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Factors determining a nuisance

We follow case law and common law in deciding whether an incident counts as a statutory nuisance.

Some of the key factors we have to consider are;

  • does the problem affect a person’s enjoyment and use of their property? The problem must be considerable, and not just because the person making the complaint is sensitive
  • does the problem make it hard for somebody to enjoy a comfortable life? For example, does it stop them getting a good night’s sleep? We have to take into account the time the noise occurs, the area in which you live and any precautions taken to minimise the disturbance
  • is the problem caused by a normal household activity, such as shutting doors or walking up and downstairs? If so, it’s unlikely to count as a statutory nuisance
  • does the nuisance cross a boundary and affect somebody’s enjoyment of their property? Visual eyesores like overgrown gardens do not count as statutory nuisances. However, officers may be able to deal with such problems informally
  • does the problem occur regularly or is it continuous? Isolated problems, such as one-off parties or bonfires do not count as statutory nuisances unless they are extreme
  • is it unusual in the area where you live? If it is common, it is unlikely to count as a statutory nuisance
  • if the problem stems from a trade or business, have they employed all best practicable means to minimise it?
  • if the problem is light-related, does that light come from a transport premises or somewhere else with a high need for safety and security? If so, it does not count as a statutory nuisance
  • does it harm somebody’s health?
  • is the problem stemming from crown property? Nuisance laws do not usually apply here
  • is the problem serious? We cannot take trivia into account when determining nuisance

Some examples of what could be considered a statutory nuisance;

  • accumulations of refuse or rubbish must be considerable and pose some health threat such as the attraction of vermin
  • smells must materially affect the comfortable enjoyment of a person’s home. They must therefore be intrusive. Agricultural smells in a country location will not be considered a nuisance unless excessive (usually due to bad agricultural practices)
  • noise in the street relates only to noise from car radios, car alarms, machinery and equipment in the street
  • it is your basic right to enjoy your home peacefully, but there is no right to total silence
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