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Concerns about various kinds of nuisance from neighbouring residential or business premises are common: for example noise, smoke, smells, fumes, light, trees and vegetation and infestations.

Statutory nuisance can occur when the activity of a party on their own premises detracts from another’s the enjoyment of their property or causes a risk to public health.  The legislation covering statutory nuisance in England and Wales is the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Similar provisions exist in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Local authorities have a duty to monitor potential nuisance and to investigate complaints of nuisance made by residents. They have a duty to act to stop or prevent the nuisance if they deem it to be a statutory nuisance.  The Act also makes provision for a resident to take private action through a magistrates’ court. There is also a recourse in common law.  Section 79 of the Act outlines the different types of nuisance which can be dealt with as statutory nuisance.  To be considered a nuisance, an activity must be ongoing or repeated-a one-off event would not usually be considered under the Act.

This briefing deals mainly with nuisance affecting individual residents, which constitutes statutory nuisance and the alternative remedies which are available under statutory nuisance legislation.  It also describes other nuisances and applicable legislation, together with sources of help and advice.

There is various Government guidance on dealing with nuisance including: Noise in general; Noise from transport; Bonfires; Smells; Artificial light; and High hedges

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