Neighbour nuisance guidance

What is the law on nuisance

To be a legal nuisance the problem must cause a significant disturbance to the complainant’s property. The legal focus is on situations where there are multiple incidents that recur on a regular basis and cause a significant impact over a reasonable length of time when they occur; rather than a one-off or occasional occurrence eg

  • the nuisance will cause a major disturbance
  • the nuisance will recur on a regular basis eg daily or at least three or four times a week
  • the incidents will last for a long period eg on/off throughout the day or at least lasting one or two hours
  • it is possible to experience a nuisance at any time of the day or night, but the problem might be made worse if it disturbs sleep at night

Nuisance law does not specify days or times when you can or can’t do something, nor does it prescribe certain loudness limits for noise nuisances. This means that you can have a nuisance at any times of the day or night

Current nuisance law does not require more than one complaint to be made before we become involved. Perhaps other neighbours are disturbed by this problem, but felt too scared to mention it. Or maybe they are genuinely untroubled by the nuisance.

It can be difficult to judge reactions to certain disturbances as people have different sensitivities and what bothers one person may not be a problem to another eg some people may not be fussed about what noises they hear between say 8:00am and 5:00pm, but strongly object to anything outside of these hours, even though legally you can have a noise nuisance at any time of the day or night.

In many cases there are always going to be disturbances in our domestic lives; it is an unavoidable consequence of the type of society we live in. We may not be able to help someone who is overly sensitive to a particular nuisance, or has too high expectations of what they should be exposed to at their property. Instead, we try to imagine the impact of the nuisance in question upon 'an average person' and put ourselves in their position.