Are You a Nuisance Neighbour?

Are You a Nuisance Neighbour? We are currently in a period of predicted dry and warm weather.  These are the perfect conditions to get out to undertake some DIY, relax or, perhaps best of all, dust off the BBQ.  But what happens if there is a light breeze and either you or your neighbour’s barbecue causes smoke to billow across along with cooking smells over into your or your neighbour’s property? Smoke from the grill, a chimera, garden fire or even an outdoor wood burner can constitute an offence.  You need to be cautious if yours or your neighbour’s barbecue may be very close to dwellings which could be a fire risk.  A technical issue is to look at the title deeds to both your property and your neighbours to see whether there are any restrictions on barbecuing. If you have a situation with neighbours whose barbeque causes you a problem and they disregard any polite complaints that you make, you may have a claim in nuisance.  If this were to be the case, have a look at your buildings and/ or contents insurance to see whether you have legal expenses insurance that could assist you with your claim. A local council can investigate complaints about smoke near residential premises that causes what is known as a ‘’statutory nuisance’’.  If the problem cannot be resolved between you and your neighbour then the issue could be raised with the local environmental health officer at the council. The council will look at the amount of smoke that has been caused, how frequent the barbequing is, how long the barbeques usually last and if the activity is deemed to be unreasonable.  Smoke caused by cooking is unlikely to be a statutory nuisance.  However if you feel that that is excessive the council may look into this for you. Other potential issues of accidental summer offences would include:
  1. If you want to attach a washing line or plants to a neighbour’s wall or fence you must obtain their consent.
  2. A bubbling hot tub and even a small water feature could be annoying to your neighbours. This depends on the level of noise but it can actually constitute a legal nuisance.
  3. Noise regulations also cover DIY and domestic chores. Environmental health officers recommend that the use of power tools and noisy domestic appliances (which can include vacuum cleaners and washing machines), should only take place between 8am and 6pm on weekdays, between 8am and 1pm on Saturdays and never on a Sunday.
  4. Overhanging branches from your neighbour’s garden might be annoying when you are out and about making your garden perfect for the summer. You can only cut them back as far as your own fence.  Cutting over your neighbour’s property is illegal.
  5. Also you cannot take fruit for your neighbour’s tree even if it does overhang your land. This is theft.
  6. Security lighting can constitute light pollution if it shines directly into your neighbour’s property. Take care with those feature lights.
  7. Finally, if you have children and you have a trampoline in the back garden, do make sure that your children cannot see into the neighbour’s garden as they leap. This could also be seen as an invasion of privacy.  Also keep an ear on the level of noise your children are making as they jump.
Simon Horwood Litagation Executive If you have a query or would like to book an appointment please get in touch with our First Contact team on 01256 320555 or email: mail@clarkeandson.co.uk

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