We can investigate a nuisance on your behalf. This includes:

However sometimes we may not be able to take action, such as if there’s not enough evidence.

If we can’t take action, or if you would prefer to the take action yourself, there are alternative options. On this page you will find information about dealing with nuisance privately.

What counts as a nuisance?

There are various types of nuisance ranging from noise, dust, unhygienic practice and others.

A nuisance is something which affects the comfort or quality of your life. It can happen day or night, and can be a constant problem or something that comes and goes.

It’s important to remember that people have different ways of living, and you should be reasonable in your expectations. It’s only a nuisance when something becomes unreasonable, and interferes with your life.

What to do when dealing with a nuisance

Dealing with the issue yourself

  • Firstly, be absolutely sure of where the nuisance is coming from, and find out who is responsible. For example, if the issue comes from a rented property, the tenant won’t be responsible for any disrepair or poor soundproofing.
  • Make sure you try to talk to the problem maker first. The court will expect you to have done this, and it’s always best to try to resolve the problem informally.
  • Make a note of the dates every time you approach the problem maker and ask them asked to stop. The court will be more sympathetic to your case if you have already taken steps in a friendly manner.

Before taking court action

  • Get advice from the citizens advice bureau as they may offer free legal advice.
  • Get help from a solicitor if you choose to.
  • Speak to neighbours and find out if they are also affected. Ask if they could attend as witnesses, as this will help your case.

Choosing to take action

If you do decide to take action you must legally give notice to the person causing the nuisance. It should be in writing and include details of your complaint. You will need to give:

  • at least three days for noise nuisance
  • and 21 days for other types of nuisance.

You should deliver this notice by post or hand, making sure the letter is dated and you have kept a copy.

Applying to court

When you contact the clerk to the Magistrates’ Court tell them you wish to make

  • a complaint under section 82 Environmental Protection Act 1990

You will need to pay a small fee and prepare evidence to show how you and your household are affected. It should show:

  • how frequent the nuisance is,
  • how long it happens for,
  • and what times it happens.

You may then need to visit the court. They will explain the procedure and may ask you to present your evidence, which will demonstrate that you have a reasonable case. You should also let the court know if you’ve reported the problem to us.

The court will decide if a summons can be issued against the person responsible for the nuisance. The summons will state the date and time for the court hearing.

Court hearing

When the time comes for the hearing, you and any witnesses will have to attend court to give evidence.

It’s up to you to decide to present your own case or use a solicitor. If you are going to present your own case, the clerk of the courts may give you limited guidance. Alternatively, you can contact citizens advice bureau who may be able to help.

The person responsible will probably come to defend themselves, which may involve counter accusations being made. You may be questioned under oath.

During the hearing

  • If the person responsible admits causing the nuisance, the court will hear the case on that day. You will normally be asked to make a statement in support of your claim.
  • If the person responsible fails to attend and makes no plea by post, the case will usually be adjourned. On rare occasions, if the court is satisfied that they received their summons, it may decide to hear the case in their absence.
  • If the accused attends but denies causing the nuisance, the court may hear the case or adjourn to another date, depending on the time available.

Likely outcomes

  • If the court is satisfied that you have proved that a nuisance exists, they will make an order against the person responsible. They may also impose a fine of up to £5,000.
    • In addition, you may ask for reasonable costs (such as lost earnings) to be paid for bringing your case to court. Any claim must be made at the hearing.
  • If you are unsuccessful, your case will be dismissed and you may be asked to pay the defendant’s costs. You may wish to seek specialist advice from a solicitor on this matter.

If the problem continues

If you have been successful, but the problem continues, return to the same court as soon as possible and apply for a “summons for failure to comply with the court order”. You don’t need to let the person responsible know you are doing this.

You will then be able to start a prosecution for breach of the order. It’s likely that further fines will be imposed if they are found guilty.

Further support

If you require help with court proceedings, the clerk of the court may be able to advise you, usually after the courts have finished proceedings.

Alternatively, it may be possible to take civil proceedings in the county court for a ‘private nuisance’. Again, take legal advice first.