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What constitutes a nuisance

You may feel that something that annoys or bothers you is a nuisance. The test in law is quite different and is based on what the ordinary reasonable person should have to suffer.

A balance has to be maintained between the rights of people complained about to do what they like in their own home and the rights of the person complaining to enjoy their home peacefully.

We can only take action if the nuisance is defined as a statutory nuisance by the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 as amended by the Noise Act of 1996. However, you may also have a right to take private legal action under common law.

Statutory nuisances include:

  • any premises in a state that is harmful to health
  • smoke, including soot, grit or ash emitted from a premises that is harmful to health
  • fumes or gases emitted from a private dwelling that are harmful to health
  • any dust, steam or smell arising from industrial, trade or business premises that are harmful to health
  • any accumulation or deposit that is harmful to health
  • any animal kept in such a place or manner that it is harmful to health
  • any insects emanating from relevant industrial, trade or business premises that are harmful to health
  • artificial light emitted from premises that is harmful to health (certain premises are exempt)
  • noise (including vibration) emitted from a premises or noise made in the street that is harmful to health
  • any well, butt, tank or cistern used to supply drinking water for domestic purposes that is liable to contamination and is harmful to health
  • any tent, van, shed or similar structure used for human habitation which gives rise to conditions that are harmful to health
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