The law provides a range of remedies
which are designed to tackle neighbour
nuisance. In practice most neighbour
complaints of anti-social behaviour
relate to excessive noise, however, this basic guide should be
relevant to a wide range of potential complaints.
Legal remedies should only be pursued where there is absolutely no
prospect of reaching a compromise or consensus with your neighbour
in other words where common-sense cannot prevail.
Criminal law some
forms of nuisance may constitute a criminal offence whether
breach of the peace or another common law crime at Scots law.
Some forms of nuisance may represent a statutory offence. For
example, dog fouling in public places comes within the provisions of
the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, as does noise
nuisance; the 1982 Act (as amended by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998)
gives the police power, in certain circumstances, to remove musical
and electrical equipment where a noise nuisance exists. Accordingly,
the police might well be the appropriate authority to complain to in
the first instance.
Noise control where
a neighbour plays excessively loud music or creates a noise nuisance
generally, you should consider contacting the police. As noted
above, the police have statutory powers to deal with excessive noise.
You can also complain to your local environmental health department
(a department within your local council). Environmental
health officers (EHOs) have the power to serve abatement
notices upon those who are responsible for the
creation of unreasonable noise (see s.80, Environmental Protection Act
1990 the EPA). In terms of the EPA a local authority must
investigate an alleged complaint of statutory nuisance.
Whether the council decides to act upon the alleged nuisance (and for
example, serve notice under section 80, and/or take legal action) is
a matter for their discretion.
However, you may have right to personally serve a statutory
nuisance notice upon the person responsible for a nuisance
see Govan Law Centre's section on EPA
aggrieved person procedure.
Interdict If you are
personally suffering from a continuing nuisance, you can ask the
court to grant an interdict to
stop the person responsible for the nuisance repeating it. If you
are on a low or modest income you may be eligible for civil legal aid
in order to raise proceedings. The Scottish
Legal Aid Board has information on eligibility criteria for
civil legal aid and advice and assistance. As a fast track measure,
the court can be asked to grant interim
interdict against the person responsible for the
nuisance. Interim interdict can be obtained within a day or
so. If you are an owner-occupier
and the person responsible for the nuisance is also, it is worthwhile
checking your title deeds often there will be real
burdens and conditions preventing a particular use of the property
other owners may be able to use these conditions as a ground
for interdict. If the person responsible for the nuisance is a tenant,
their landlord may be able to interdict them against the offending
behaviour, This will depend on whether the tenancy agreement
expressly prohibits such behaviour if it does, then this may
be used as the ground for interdict.
Anti-social behaviour orders
Your local authority may be in a position to apply to the
sheriff court for an order prohibiting the person against whom an anti-social
behaviour order (ASBO) is made from doing anything described in
the order. Breach of the order without excuse will be a criminal
offence. It is a matter for the discretion
of the local council to decide whether or not it should
raise ASBO proceedings against an individual.
Tenancy agreement if
the person responsible for a nuisance is a tenant, you can complain
to his/her landlord. Ultimately, the landlord is in a position to
require the tenant to adhere to the responsibilities as set out in
the tenancy agreement. The final sanction a landlord may pursue is,
of course, eviction.
You can obtain further free
help and advice from your local law centre (which
employs solicitors practising in this field of law). If you are
in receipt of a modest or low income, you may be entitled to help
from a private practice firm of solicitors.