Neighbourhood nuisance

This information relates to domestic properties and farm land only. If your problem concerns a business, including pubs and clubs please see our commercial pollution pages.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) includes a wide range of unacceptable behaviour that affects the quality of life for residents and others living or working in the community. This behaviour is often a criminal offence and therefore a matter for the Police.

However, we often receive complaints about things that are not anti-social but are more about a different style of living.

What is nuisance?

Statutory nuisance is a legal term meaning that the actions of someone else are substantially affecting the reasonable enjoyment of your property. For a matter to be actionable as a nuisance in law it must be a serious and persistent issue - one-off events rarely qualify.

Nuisance can be a form of anti-social behaviour, but often people do not realise that their actions will be negatively affecting others.

For the issue to count as a statutory nuisance, it must do one of the following:

  • Unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
  • Injure health or be likely to injure health.

Types of nuisance

The most common types of nuisance are:

  • Anti-social behaviour (ASB) - This includes a wide range of unacceptable behaviour
  • Noise - Equipment such as stereos, a barking dog or DIY work at inappropriate times
  • Smoke and fumes - Bonfires, chimineas, construction work or DIY
  • Light - A floodlight at a neighbouring property shining directly into your window
  • Unpleasant odours - Very unpleasant smells after a farmer has spread manure on a field (see agricultural smells) or unpleasant smells coming from a nearby property
  • Rubbish in gardens - A large pile of domestic waste in a neighbour's garden or animal fouling that is not being cleaned up regularly in a neighbouring yard.

What you can do

Before you contact us, we would advise you to discuss the problem with your neighbour, if you feel it's safe to do so. Often, they simply do not realise they are causing a problem. It can create ill feeling in communities if people approach the council directly without talking to their neighbours first.

However, if the problem continues you can report it to us.

Before you report it, you should complete a nuisance diary detailing how and when you are being affected by the issue, especially when dealing with noise and smoke complaints.

What we can do

We have a duty to investigate complaints of alleged nuisance. If your problem is being caused by a domestic property, see what steps you can take to report it to us:

If someone fails to deal with a nuisance once they have been formally instructed to do so by the council, they can face prosecution in court and a fine of up to £5000. In cases of noise nuisance, the council also has the power to seize noise making equipment such as stereos.

All complaints that we receive are confidential and your details will not be disclosed unless we have to take the case to court. We will NOT investigate anonymous complaints.

Taking private action

You may also wish to take formal action at the Magistrate’s Court. We may advise you to do this if after investigating your complaint, we have been unable to gather enough evidence to demonstrate that a statutory nuisance exists.

© Wigan Council