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Complaining About Smell Pollution

By: Helena Stratford - Updated: 6 Nov 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Smell Pollution Complaining Council

If you have a nasty niff in the neighbourhood or perhaps a nuisance neighbour causing a stench, then there are procedures in place by which you can complain.

The Personal Approach

If the bad smell is being caused by a neighbour, then in the first instance, a polite, personal approach is usually best. Unless you fear an aggressive reaction, popping round and raising the problem in a friendly manner often sorts things out. Most people have no idea that there is a problem and are totally unaware that they might be offending people. They are often happy to resolve things and might even thank you for pointing out the problem!

If you don’t seem to be getting anywhere with this approach, then make a note of the date and time of your conversation and follow it up with a more formal letter in writing – but remember to keep it polite.

If a second or third follow-up letter doesn’t provoke a solution, then give fair warning to the person or company that you will be contacting the council.

Involving The Council

Your local Council has a responsibility to investigate all complaints about odour under the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

If the problem is coming from an individual or household, they will visit the property and try to determine the cause of the smell. They will also speak to the householders and help them solve the issue.

If the problem is being produced by a local business or industry, then the Environmental Health team will determine whether the smell constitutes a Statutory Nuisance under the Act and whether they need to offer advice on good practise for minimising the odours or impose regulatory sanctions.

Complaining To The Council

If you have tried and failed with a personal and friendly approach to the neighbour or local business causing a problem, then your next step is to make a formal complaint to the Environmental Health Services of your local authority.

Write to the department with as much detail as possible as to the nature of the smell, the times and days it occurs and the effect it has on your life. You should also state what action you have taken so far.

An Environmental Health Officer will then be likely to ask you to keep a diary of exactly when the smell occurs, for how long it is present and perhaps the ‘strength’ or nuisance factor it causes each time. For instance if it is a beautiful sunny afternoon and you wish to be in the garden but find it uncomfortable because of the smell, then this would create more of a nuisance than if the weather were bad and you stayed indoors. All such factors are taken into consideration and help decide if the smell is to be ‘expected’ (and put up with, or if it can be classified as a statutory nuisance and action taken.

Investigation By Environmental Services

The Environmental team will visit the site causing smell pollution and if identified as a nuisance, will implement steps to reduce or solve the problem.

Part of their decision will be based upon whether the smell is deemed ‘expected’. For instance, each year, many people complain about agricultural smells and particularly odours from muck-spreading by farmers. However, while advice is given to farmers to help minimise the nuisance to the local community, it is considered that these smells are temporary and an expected by-product of living in the country.

In other cases, a foul-smelling industry, such as poultry manure farms, rendering plants or sewage works, may have a special licence or planning permission stating that the odour emitted is under Industrial Pollution Control, in which case further investigations will need to be done in conjunction with other parties. It may be just ‘bad luck’ if you live near such an outlet.

However, for any smell which is persistently causing a nuisance is not an expected outcome of a licensed industry, it is affecting the enjoyment of your property and/or can be shown to be prejudicial to health, the council has powers to take action.

Remedial Sanctions

If the Council has found the smell to be a statutory nuisance, then they have the powers to serve an Abatement Notice on the person(s) or company responsible.

Sometimes, if not already in place, the Environmental Officer can ask that Best Practicable Means are put in place, which means that if there are things that can be done to help minimise the odour, these steps are taken.

If your Council is not able to help, individuals do also have the right to take private action. They may complain directly to the Magistrates’ Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 as amended.

Should you wish for more information on complaining about smell pollution, do contact your local Council who will be able to assist you and who usually have a leaflet available giving practical advice.

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Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
Zanner - Your Question:
Someone nearby to us is burning something at night and the smell is horrendous. It is very much like a chemical smell. I normally like to keep one of my bedroom windows open at night, even in winter, but recently I've been unable to do that because the smell is so bad, I cannot stand to breathe it in. In fact, it woke me up last night from a deep sleep and even after I closed my window the smell had permeated my bedroom and the rest of the house. I had to light a candle to get rid of the smell in my bedroom so I could go back to sleep. This problem has only just started within the past few weeks. We have lived in this same house for the past 4 years and I've never smelled this smell before. Since I'm unsure where it's coming from and it's very late at night, is there anything that can be done?

Our Response:
Contact your environmental health officer, they will investigate and take action if necessary.
PollutionIssues - 6-Nov-17 @ 3:38 PM
Someone nearby to us is burning something at night and the smell is horrendous.It is very much like a chemical smell.I normally like to keep one of my bedroom windows open at night, even in winter, but recently I've been unable to do that because the smell is so bad, I cannot stand to breathe it in.In fact, it woke me up last night from a deep sleep and even after I closed my window the smell had permeated my bedroom and the rest of the house.I had to light a candle to get rid of the smell in my bedroom so I could go back to sleep.This problem has only just started within the past few weeks.We have lived in this same house for the past 4 years and I've never smelled this smell before. Since I'm unsure where it's coming from and it's very late at night, is there anything that can be done?
Zanner - 6-Nov-17 @ 12:03 PM
IM - Your Question:
I rent a flat above a 1 bed apartment- the tenants constantly cook food be it 7am or midnight there is always a strong smell noticeable- I have tried everything to combat this in my flat however as we have floorboards it comes straight up- it gets into our drawers and can be smelt on our clothes and furniture. I also have reason to believe that there is multiple people living in the 1 bed which is also stressing me out. I don't know the people and am very reluctant to approach them personally for fear of retaliation. I am desperate to move out however we are here for the foreseeable

Our Response:
Speak to you landlord in the first instance. They might be able to make improvements to your property. If they are also landlord of the people in the other apartment then they may be able to speak with the other tenants.
PollutionIssues - 18-Oct-17 @ 3:45 PM
I rent a flat above a 1 bed apartment- the tenants constantly cook food be it 7am or midnight there is always a strong smell noticeable- I have tried everything to combat this in my flat however as we have floorboards it comes straight up- it gets into our drawers and can be smelt on our clothes and furniture. I also have reason to believe that there is multiple people living in the 1 bed which is also stressing me out. I don't know the people and am very reluctant to approach them personally for fear of retaliation. I am desperate to move out however we are here for the foreseeable
IM - 17-Oct-17 @ 3:00 PM
Melzy - Your Question:
I live in a semi detached house , a joined to me is a couple whom have two large dogs and a cat , all three animals live in the house , they are let out periodically during the day to do thier business , this has never been cleaned up in the 2 years I have been here , as you can imagine , especially when it has rained is horrific , god only know what it’s like inside the house as when watering my hanging baskets in the summer the smell coming from their window was just as bad as outside if not worse. There are now also squirrels living in the roof !! How do I complain about this ? Kind regards

Our Response:
Firstly you could try talking to the neighbours to let them know your feelings, this may be sufficient to prompt them to do something. If that doesn't work, call environmental health.
PollutionIssues - 11-Oct-17 @ 3:47 PM
I live in a semi detached house , a joined to me is a couple whom have two large dogs and a cat , all three animals live in the house , they are let out periodically during the day to do thier business , this has never been cleaned up in the 2 years I have been here , as you can imagine , especially when it has rained is horrific , god only know what it’s like inside the house as when watering my hanging baskets in the summer the smell coming from their window was just as bad as outside if not worse . There are now also squirrels living in the roof !! How do I complain about this ? Kind regards
Melzy - 10-Oct-17 @ 4:00 PM
Dani - Your Question:
Hi my neighbour keep smoking at the entrance of the building ignoring the sign on the wall that this is smoke free area.I spoke to her and asked her to move away but she ignored me What can I do next?

Our Response:
Is there a landlord or management company you can complain to? They should be able to take action.
PollutionIssues - 25-Sep-17 @ 12:40 PM
Hi my neighbour keep smoking at the entrance of the building ignoring the sign on the wall that this is smoke free area. I spoke to her and asked her to move away but she ignored me What can I do next?
Dani - 22-Sep-17 @ 1:49 PM
Mrsteapea- Your Question:
Hi, recently my neighbours used chemicals to fibreglass their house extension, the fumes seeped into my house. They were very strong that my eyes watered, and my nose swelled up. I have since lost my sense if smell and taste. What can I do about this?

Our Response:
You may have to take a private legal action against your neighbour to address this.
PollutionIssues - 8-Sep-17 @ 2:01 PM
Hi, recently my neighbours used chemicals to fibreglass their house extension, the fumes seeped into my house. They were very strong that my eyes watered, and my nose swelled up. I have since lost my sense if smell and taste. What can I do about this?
Mrsteapea - 7-Sep-17 @ 11:46 PM
Cecil - Your Question:
Hi, I live next door to a cow shed/farm not 10m away from my home. The smell and noise pollution is horrendous I can't open any window without the smell emanating throughout my home due to the slots in which the sh#te is held and silage he puts out to feed them! What makes this worse is that the cows will be brought in over winter and the NOISE of the cows roaring that keep my family awake all night every night is driving me mad! What can I do?

Our Response:
Unfortunately this is one of the downsides of living in a rural environment. While you can try your environmental health department, they do not usually act on smells related to normal farming procedures.
PollutionIssues - 5-Sep-17 @ 2:01 PM
RonM - Your Question:
My local council has for the past few months refused to investigate a very powerful smell of asian spicy cooking entering my house from the property next door. They dispute both the information contained on your website and the responsibility of the council to investigate.My neighbours are quite aware of the problem and are trying to mitigate the problem by opening there kitchen door to the outside.THe smell when entered my house lingers for a few hours and seem to be coating the furnishings with the odour.I am at a loss what to do nextThis has been going on now since my neighbours moved in 9 months agoHelp!

Our Response:
While you can also contact your local council about a smell from a neighbour's house, domestic smells are not usually treated as a statutory nuisance.If the smell is coming from vermin etc they will investigate.
PollutionIssues - 5-Sep-17 @ 1:59 PM
Hi, I live next door to a cow shed/farm not 10m away from my home. The smell and noise pollution is horrendous I can't open any window without the smell emanating throughout my home due to the slots in which the sh#te is heldand silage he puts out to feed them! What makes this worse is that the cows will be brought in over winter and the NOISE of the cows roaring that keep my family awake all night every night is driving me mad! What can I do?
Cecil - 5-Sep-17 @ 12:08 AM
My local council has for the past few months refused to investigate a very powerful smell of asian spicy cooking entering my house from the property next door. They dispute both the information contained on your website and the responsibility of the council to investigate. My neighbours are quite aware of the problem and are trying to mitigate the problem by opening there kitchen door to the outside. THe smell when entered my house lingers for a few hours and seem to be coating the furnishings with the odour. I am at a loss what to do next This has been going on now since my neighbours moved in 9 months ago Help!
RonM - 4-Sep-17 @ 10:29 AM
Sarah z - Your Question:
I live in a block of flats owned by a housing association. There is a rubbish shoot in the building which has recently started to smell really bad. When you come into the main entrance it's the first thing that you can smell. Is there anything that the housing association must do in order to get rid of this, or do I have to put up with this smell every time I enter the building to get to my flat? Thanks

Our Response:
Have you contacted the Housing Association about the problem? If there's a blockage they will be able to sort it out, but unless someone reports it, they will not find out about it. If the Housing Association does not resolve the issue you can report it to your council's environmental health department.
PollutionIssues - 22-Aug-17 @ 10:31 AM
I live in a block of flats owned by a housing association. There is a rubbish shoot in the building which has recently started to smell really bad. When you come into the main entrance it's the first thing that you can smell. Is there anything that the housing association must do in order to get rid of this, or do I have to put up with this smell every time I enter the building to get to my flat? Thanks
Sarah z - 19-Aug-17 @ 9:38 AM
22 months of complains Neighbours are dirty cat people have 18 cats the smell of urine is strong in mu property i am daily sick and on medication for this. Constant headaches and coughing till im sick. Council state the smell is slight. Environmental health came out and told me the smell isnt strong enough to act. My argument is i do not have any cats in my flat so how is it fair my flat smells of stale abd fresh cat urine and the dirty uncleanliness from the flat joining Smell is coming through joining cupboard Any advice
Urine breather - 26-Jul-17 @ 2:26 PM
Having problems with smoke from the next doors neighbours house & we are now starting not to sleep in the front bedroom. We have spoken to the neighbours nicely about there smoking & it stops for a couple of days & then we start smelling it again. We have also spoken to there landlord & he seems to not have the answer to this problem as they stop for about 5 days. The last chat I had with the landlord was not good as he told me they need to open the windows when they need to smoke. I am feeling very upset as the front bedroom window is now never shut & the smell is always some where in the house.
Fordy - 10-Jul-17 @ 7:20 PM
The next door neighbours are smoking in there rented house. I have spoken to them & also the owner of the house & I was told they will open there windows & it will go away. It seems like they are smoking more as 2 places in the house smells very bad now 24/7. My son Now has a cough & I feeling really angry with living in my house. Me & wife are starting to get tight chests & live with the bedroom window constantly open. Please advise the next step as I would love to put there windows though with a brick but they have to 2 small children that cry alot.
Fordy - 9-Jul-17 @ 11:32 PM
Complainer - Your Question:
For several years I have had a Fish & Chip Odour coming into my garden. It is obnoxious & have contacted (vial phone & email) the Environmental Health (EH). They have maintained the odour must come into my house before they will take action. your site information says differently. On a few occasions it has entered the house, mostly at times when EH is closed or on one accasion where no one was available. However, since retiring I spend much more time in my garden or at least try to. I noticed your site a month or so ago but have neen abroad for several weeks. Now back home the smell in the garden is as strong as ever and are about to engage with EH again. is there any advice you can provide before I contact them.Of note, the last time I reported the problem to them was 28/9/16. Obviously I'm not in the garden regular in winter months but Can smell the odour regularly

Our Response:
Environmental health will investigate complaints whether you're experiencing them outdoors in your garden or within your home. If the odour is found to be "safe" and is not pervading your home, then the EHO might not class it as a nuisance as such. If the smell is from a local fish and chip shop and the shop's owners are complying with all relevant extraction/disposal regulations, then it's unlikely any action will be taken.
PollutionIssues - 16-Jun-17 @ 11:19 AM
For several years I have had a Fish & Chip Odour coming into my garden. It is obnoxious & have contacted (vial phone & email) the Environmental Health (EH). They have maintained the odour must come into my house before they will take action. your site information says differently. On a few occasions it has entered the house, mostly at times when EH is closed or on one accasion where no one was available. However, since retiring I spend much more time in my garden or at least try to. I noticed your site a month or so ago but have neen abroad for several weeks. Now back home the smell in the garden is as strong as ever and are about to engage with EH again.is there any advice you can provide before I contact them. Of note, the last time I reported the problem to them was 28/9/16. Obviously I'm not in the garden regular in winter months but Can smell the odour regularly
Complainer - 13-Jun-17 @ 7:11 PM
I had police involved with thinking it was someone up to no good at side of house. Were air vents are within easy access. Everytime i was suspiscious ie hearing a hiss he was in garden with water hosepipe. But when asked he'd seen no one but it was like id just caught him. I even had plain clothes watching street. Because we have been victims of crime in the past. I think it's been him all the time spraying the air-vent with butane gas. We have lived away, then returned. I've been A&E twice and vomited in past month. We had gas checked, we had minor leak. We put a new fence in which was needing doing. Started a gym as i have been really ill. Next door to them going oh they're blocking you out.? I think it must be jealousy. Or i'm being victimised again. And it is a clique. Just relaxed thinking it was just my ill health after dealing with another attached neighbour for targetted harrasment. But it was shattered because they've had barby on without any warning and my throat is burning from having the window open. They know i have a diagnosis of asthma which i got on moving hear. I never had breathing probs before that. It feels like i've eaten cough mixture that burns my oesophagus. And have pain down one side. I have fallen over. Got weakness around arms etc.
Tootie - 27-May-17 @ 11:45 PM
Our neighbours cooking is generating a horrible smell that prevents us enjoying ojr garden enjoying our home as it permates through the walls housing say nothing can be done? The smell is horrible occurs most days.
Steve - 22-May-17 @ 8:08 PM
We have tried bu they want all our details. This would mean that she will know we complained an as she and her boyfriend are aggressive they could take it out o us and as she threatened make our lives a misery. Her boyfriend has threatened both my son and husband.
newmum - 24-Apr-17 @ 5:20 PM
newmum - Your Question:
We have lived in our rented house for 13 years. In 2015 a hairsalon moved in. Our house goes besides and over the shop. The smell from chemicals coming through is awful. When she first moved in we talked to her about the smell but she denies it being from her. We have spoken to her again and again. It has gone so far that she said if we mention the smell again she will make our lives a misery. We spoke to the land lord in the summer 2016. He said he would do something but hasn't so far. We now have a newborn baby. The smell is affecting the bedrooms of two of our children. As I am writing this the smell is coming through to the wall into the dinning room. The hallway is smelly, the smell is on the stairs and the smell is very much in my son's bedroom. What can we do. Our problem is that we do not want to be told by the landlord that we need to move nor for her to make our lives even worst then they are. What can we do?? She said she contacted environmental health and they apparently told her they are not going to do anything as the smells are not toxic. But it is giving us headaches and not wanting to be in our own house. Is there a way of contacting people anonymously so she cannot take it out on us? She is a very aggressive person and so is her boyfriend. Both have hurled insults at us and our children. It is getting worst and we are at our wits end. Please what can we do?????newmum

Our Response:
Why don't you contact environmental health yourself? There may something that can make your neighbour do to ensure the smells are extracted differently from the property etc
PollutionIssues - 18-Apr-17 @ 10:52 AM
We have lived in our rented house for 13 years. In 2015 a hairsalon moved in. Our house goes besides and over the shop. The smell from chemicals coming through is awful. When she first moved in we talked to her about the smell but she denies it being from her. We have spoken to her again and again. It has gone so far that she said if we mention the smell again she will make our lives a misery. We spoke to the land lord in the summer 2016. He said he would do something but hasn't so far. We now have a newborn baby. The smell is affecting the bedrooms of two of our children. As I am writing this the smell is coming through to the wall into the dinning room. The hallway is smelly, the smell is on the stairs and the smell is very much in my son's bedroom. What can we do. Our problem is that we do not want to be told by the landlord that we need to move nor for her to make our lives even worst then they are. What can we do?? She said she contacted environmental health and they apparently told her they are not going to do anything as the smells are not toxic. But it is giving us headaches and not wanting to be in our own house. Is there a way of contacting people anonymously so she cannot take it out on us? She is a very aggressive person and so is her boyfriend. Both have hurled insults at us and our children. It is getting worst and we are at our wits end. Please what can we do????? newmum
newmum - 15-Apr-17 @ 2:58 PM
Barbs - Your Question:
We have been living out in the country in a rented property for the past 5 years and have throughly enjoyed it. Recently, one of the farmers, down the road, has opted to start breeding chickens on a mass scale for re-sale.The odour is that bad that it hurts the nostrils due to the ammonia smell wafting our way. To add insult to injury, our water has also tasted "offish" lately and we have started buying bottled water instead.Any advice on how we move forward with this is greatly appreciated.

Our Response:
Try your local environmental health office. They will certainly be able to look into the water issue to be sure that it's nothing untoward. They will also check the smells and the poultry keeping practices of the farmer to be sure they are complying with the necessary standards etc.
PollutionIssues - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:10 PM
We have been living out in the country in a rented property for the past 5 years and have throughly enjoyed it. Recently, one of the farmers, down the road, has opted to start breeding chickens on a mass scale for re-sale. The odour is that bad that it hurts the nostrils due to the ammonia smell wafting our way.To add insult to injury, our water has also tasted "offish" lately and we have started buying bottled water instead. Any advice on how we move forward with this is greatly appreciated.
Barbs - 5-Apr-17 @ 8:22 PM
Haze - Your Question:
Hi, my husband, child and I became homeless 3 years ago after job losses and pregnancy, and failing to pay our mortgage. We were placed in a 'non secure temporary accommodation' 3 bedroom terrace, which we were grateful for, but the problem we now face is that the bathroom at the end of the property has rats in the flat roof and wall cavities as we hear them and have occasional rat droppings, the smell of urine is awful especially in summer we have to keep windows open and it is now smelling out the downstairs area of our house. The landlord paid for rat poison to be put down but we had dead rats then followed by maggots and flies in the bath and windows for weeks. The council won't do anything and the landlord refuses to do anything apart from occasional rat poison what can we do?

Our Response:
Why won't the council do anything? If there's clearly a rat infestation or your property is substandard then they have a duty to investigate. Make sure you contact the Environmental Health department rather than any of the others at this stage.
PollutionIssues - 27-Mar-17 @ 12:06 PM
Hi, my husband, child and I became homeless 3 years ago after job losses and pregnancy, and failing to pay our mortgage. We were placed in a 'non secure temporary accommodation' 3 bedroom terrace, which we were grateful for, but the problem we now face is that the bathroom at the end of the property has rats in the flat roof and wall cavities as we hear them and have occasional rat droppings, the smell of urine is awful especially in summer we have to keep windows open and it is now smelling out the downstairs area of our house. The landlord paid for rat poison to be put down but we had dead rats then followed by maggots and flies in the bath and windows for weeks. The council won't do anything and the landlord refuses to do anything apart from occasional rat poison what can we do?
Haze - 25-Mar-17 @ 7:00 PM
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Latest Comments
  • ian
    Re: Bad Smells and the Law
    hi bought a new flat 6 months ago,im directly above a kebab shop have had the environmental health up about 6 times to deal with fumes and…
    22 November 2017
  • PollutionIssues
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Zanner - Your Question:Someone nearby to us is burning something at night and the smell is horrendous. It is very much like…
    6 November 2017
  • Zanner
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Someone nearby to us is burning something at night and the smell is horrendous. It is very much like a chemical smell. I…
    6 November 2017
  • PollutionIssues
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    IM - Your Question:I rent a flat above a 1 bed apartment- the tenants constantly cook food be it 7am or midnight there is…
    18 October 2017
  • PollutionIssues
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Melzy - Your Question:I live in a semi detached house , a joined to me is a couple whom have two large dogs and a cat , all…
    11 October 2017
  • Melzy
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    I live in a semi detached house , a joined to me is a couple whom have two large dogs and a cat , all three animals live in…
    10 October 2017
  • PollutionIssues
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Dani - Your Question:Hi my neighbour keep smoking at the entrance of the building ignoring the sign on the wall that this is…
    25 September 2017
  • Dani
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hi my neighbour keep smoking at the entrance of the building ignoring the sign on the wall that this is smoke free area. I…
    22 September 2017
  • PollutionIssues
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Mrsteapea - Your Question:Hi, recently my neighbours used chemicals to fibreglass their house extension, the fumes seeped…
    8 September 2017
  • Mrsteapea
    Re: Complaining About Smell Pollution
    Hi, recently my neighbours used chemicals to fibreglass their house extension, the fumes seeped into my house. They were…
    7 September 2017
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