Are your neighbour's Christmas lights causing a nuisance?
If your neighbour has over done it on the Christmas decorations and the light is causing a problem, then you will be happy to hear that there is potential for a valid complaint to be made. The complaint would primarily consist of the light being a “statutory nuisance”.
What is a statutory nuisance?
Statutory nuisance is covered in the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Under Section 79 it explains:
Subject to subsections (1A) to (6A) below, the following matters constitute “statutory nuisances” for the purposes of this Part, that is to say:
- (Fb) artificial light emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;
For the artificial light to constitute as a nuisance under the description above, it must unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises.
Therefore, the light that your neighbour is emitting by decorating their house must cause a significant interference. Examples of this could be the flashing lights illuminating your room throughout the night, or the light being so bright that you cannot use the enjoyment of a certain part of the property.
Action that can be taken
It must firstly be suggested that you consider speaking to the owner of the interfering light and express your concern. This would hopefully resolve the problem by coming to some form of civil agreement, such as removing some light, or restricting the time they are on.
If no agreement can be made and the council agrees your claim for a statutory nuisance is accurate, then they can grant an abatement notice. This orders the owner of the lights to restrict or stop the light that is causing interference.
The council’s assessment of the light to see whether it creates a nuisance will take into consideration the following factors:
- Whether it interferes with the use of a property.
- Whether it may affect health.
- How it’s likely to affect the average person (unusual sensitivities aren’t included).
- How often it happens.
- How long it lasts.
- When it happens.
- Whether it’s in the town or country.
Preventing a complaint
From the opposite perspective, there are precautions that should be considered before any lights are put on display. These include:
- Are the lights necessary?
- When are the lights going to be on?
- Is there the potential of the lights causing a nuisance for a neighbour?
- Do the lights cause any potential health and safety risks?
- Are there any ways that the glare of the lights could be reduced?