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Neighbourhood nuisance

We use the term 'neighbourhood nuisance' to describe statutory nuisance.

How neighbourhood (statutory) nuisance is defined

A statutory nuisance is defined as:

  • noise from premises or from vehicles, equipment or machinery in the street
  • smoke from premises
  • smells from industry, trade or business premises (for example, sewage treatment works, factories or restaurants)
  • artificial light 
  • insect infestations from industrial, trade or business premises
  • other nuisance such as rubbish, furniture, or a build-up of animal or human faeces from a neighbouring garden or on other private land

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

Resolving neighbourhood nuisance

Before you involve us, you might want to try to see if you can sort the problem out for yourself. You may find you can sort out the issue in a friendly way, without any further action.

Here are some handy hints on how to approach your neighbour to try and resolve the problem. 

  1. Speak or write and sign a letter to the person or company responsible and explain the problem
  2. Think about what you're going to say or write
  3. Be polite, do not threaten
  4. Tell them what it is that disturbs you and why
  5. Ask for a response from your neighbour
  6. Be reasonable in your expectations
  7. Above all, stay calm and do not be rude. You may have to live near these people for some considerable time to come

Report neighbourhood nuisance

If the nuisance is statutory, then you can use the online form:

Report neighbourhood nuisance

How we take action

We may ask you to keep a diary sheet of what is troubling you. From there, we can decide the best course of action. This could be:
writing to or visiting the person causing the problem

  • performing monitoring or surveillance
  • obtaining more information
  • concluding that other action may be more appropriate
  • serving a Notice requiring the abatement, prohibition or restriction of the nuisance

How long it takes to investigate

How quickly we can deal with your complaint will depend on return of a satisfactory diary sheet.

The investigating officer will try to visit you and the person causing the disturbance in an effort to resolve the problem. Most problems are dealt with quite quickly because often people are not aware that they are causing a problem. Sometimes problems take longer to resolve, particularly if:

  • we need to monitor the problem
  • assess whether the problem is defined as a 'statutory' nuisance
  • formal action is needed
  • the disturbance is of a sporadic nature
  • there are other issues to be taken into consideration

Take independent action yourself

If, for whatever reason, the local authority cannot take action, or if you do not wish to involve them, you can complain about a noise problem direct to the Magistrates Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. There may be costs in taking this action. You may wish to take legal advice. The Magistrates Court will need to be persuaded that the noise problem amounts to a statutory notice.

Read our leaflet on Section 82 (PDF) for more information on how to do this.

Legal action should be a last resort, so the mediation service at Milton Keynes may be able to help. Be aware you will be charged for mediation. You can call them to discuss your situation on 01908 200828. Alternative organisations are Mediation UK, telephone number 0117 904 6661, and DC Mediation, telephone number 020 8556 62.


Nuisance has been defined as ‘an unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land, or of some right over, or in connection with it’. A list of the categories of statutory nuisance can be found in Section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Under Section 80 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 the Council has a duty to take ‘all reasonable steps’ to investigate complaints of nuisance.

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