Statutory nuisance

We can investigate complaints of excessive noise and other types of statutory nuisance from both domestic and commercial premises.

What is a statutory nuisance?

A statutory nuisance is not simply something that annoys you - it is something that causes a serious and unreasonable interference with your right to enjoy your property, or damages your health in terms of the threat of disease, rather than the risk of injury. Statutory nuisance is a criminal offence.

We have a duty to take reasonable steps to investigate allegations of statutory nuisance. We have to make a decision based on what the average reasonable person would find unacceptable, and cannot take into account individual sensitivities or personal circumstances related to ill health.

Categories of statutory nuisance

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) defines the following as potential statutory nuisances:

  • The state of a premises (but not eyesores which need to be referred to the Planning Department)
  • Smoke emitted from a premises (but not smoke from a chimney in a Smoke Control Area)
  • Fumes or gases emitted from premises
  • Dust, steam or smell from an industrial, trade or business premises only
  • An accumulation or deposit
  • Any animal kept in such a place or manner (does not include wild animals)
  • Noise emitted from premises
  • Insects in industrial, trade or business premises only
  • Artificial light emitted from premises

If your complaint does not fall within one of these categories, it cannot be deemed a statutory nuisance.

Key considerations

There are a number of factors that must be considered when assessing whether or not a nuisance exists:

  • Impact of the alleged nuisance
  • Location/character of the area
  • Time of day
  • Frequency
  • Duration
  • Custom and practice
  • Importance of the activity to the community
  • How easy it is to avoid the effects of the activity

Everyday and ordinary use of a domestic premise, and the lack of sound insulation between properties, cannot be deemed a statutory nuisance.

Examples

Here are some examples of what is and what is not classed as statutory nuisance:

  • Your neighbour or a local pub plays loud music late at night which keeps you awake. Yes, this could potentially be statutory nuisance
  • Your neighbour’s young children make a lot of noise playing in the garden during the day. No, this is not likely to be classed as statutory nuisance

But remember, this is just a guide. All cases are assessed individually, and it is the officer assessing each case who decides whether your complaint may be classed as a statutory nuisance.

Report a noise nuisance Report a smoke problem

Updated: 22 September 2015