Legal advice: Are you being a nuisance?

Related tags Environmental health officer Officer

Publicans have many things to worry about besides revenue raised per week. They may, for instance, be concerned that they could be prosecuted or...

Publicans have many things to worry about besides revenue raised per week. They may, for instance, be concerned that they could be prosecuted or complained about by neighbours for being a nuisance.

As you might have guessed, to be a "nuisance" includes actions which may be prejudicial to people's health or to your neighbours' enjoyment of their homes and gardens.

You could be a nuisance if you keep your premises in a poor state or if smoke, fumes, smells, deposits and accumulations of refuse escape from them. This is often hard to avoid given that you are trying to run a business and please customers,

without having the additional task of pleasing your neighbours and local council.

Given today's society, dealing with an accumulation of waste and refuse and keeping noise under control are subjects that are hitting the top of local councils' lists of priorities. You can be prosecuted if such a nuisance exists for which you are responsible.

It is therefore important that you are alert to the risk of being prosecuted and take practical measures to avoid that ever happening to you.

How can you be a good neighbour?

The following is a checklist of measures you might consider introducing to avoid such complaints and any prosecution:

  • Check whether your business is causing a nuisance to your neighbours by monitoring noise, odours and other emissions close to the boundary of your premises with your neighbours. It would be wise to check under different operating conditions, including opening and closing times, and at different times of the day
  • Maintain good relationships with your neighbours. Advise them in advance if you are planning to do work on your property, such as the installation of a new bar area, which might have an adverse effect on the environment in terms of noise and dust. By keeping your neighbours well informed they may perceive you as being more considerate, and therefore less likely to make a complaint
  • Make sure that your staff and/or management are aware of the need to avoid nuisances. Check regularly for any waste accumulation, evidence of vermin, noise or smells
  • Pay particular attention to night-time activity in terms of noise levels. Address any external noise issues and make sure that customers leave the premises as quickly and quietly as possible
  • If you are forced to carry out noisy operations on the premises, try and ensure that these are carried out as far away from boundaries with your neighbours as possible. Try and mitigate the effects by, for example, making use of existing buildings/stockpiles as noise barriers
  • Minimise noise escape from your premises by keeping doors and windows closed if possible
  • Ensure that your burglar alarm has a maintenance contract and call-out agreement to avoid false alarms causing persistent noise nuisance which can be a major source of irritation - especially in the small hours
  • Consider replacing any noisy equipment and take account of noise emissions when buying and replacing your equipment
  • Ensure that equipment such as boilers, especially oil and solid fuel-burning models, are not pumping smoke into the atmosphere

All of the above are good practical measures which will not only enhance relationships with your neighbours, but also avoid any action being taken against you by them or by any statutory authority.

These types of precautionary measures can be found on the website, which is full of useful information on these types of topics.

If in doubt give your local environmental health officer a call and see if he or she can meet you to assess the adequacy of the equipment and measures you have in place and advise you on what you could do better.

Related topics Legislation

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