When properties are left empty for long periods of time they can become a focus for vandalism, especially if the gardens are overgrown and the house falls into disrepair.
This can then cause a downward spiral. Owners of an empty house should ensure that it is kept tidy and secure.
If a house has been empty for six months or more, the owner can apply for a grant of £5,000 to put the property in order so that it can be rented out.
You should notify the Environmental Health Team if the disrepair is causing dampness or other structural problems to your house, or if doors or ground floor windows have been broken or are left open.
Our Building Control team operate a 24 hour service to deal with dangerous structures.
We would all like to live next door to well tended gardens, some people however are not gardeners and their garden can look a bit untidy. An untidy garden is not an area that we will get involved in. There may be a valid reason why your neighbours’ garden is not tidy. You may be able to offer a bit of practical help. It may also cause problems for neighbours if people leave out food waste, for example feeding birds.
If the house you are complaining about is a Housing association property, you should notify the housing association first.
Our Environmental health team will investigate your complaint if the garden
- is more than untidy (has piles of rubbish)
- is causing a smell, or
- is attracting flies or rats.
Where the garden is overgrown and has building rubble or other material that will not attract flies or rats, contact the Planning team. They have powers to deal with properties that are very unsightly and detrimental to the amenity of the area.
Artificial light from street lights, security lights, and flood lighting can be a problem when it shines directly into the windows of your house preventing sleep.
If street lighting is causing you a problem, your first course of action is to contact the County Council highways department by filling out a fault report form or calling 0845 609 6609.
If a nearby house is causing the problem, contact the light owner and ask them to change the angle of their lighting so that it does not light up your property. (See our guide to resolving neighbour disputes)
If this does not work you can contact Environmental health who will investigate the problem and, if necessary, talk to the neighbour on your behalf. If informal action does not work we will take formal action. Read more about light nuisance at gov.uk
If you notice a fire unattended that appears to be out of control, or has been set wilfully to cause damage then you should notify the fire brigade immediately by calling 999.
In November, we expect to see a bonfire or two. However some people regularly have garden bonfires to dispose of garden waste. This can cause problems for neighbours if smoke blows into their garden or home. It is best to dispose of green waste in your green waste bin. Household waste should never be burnt as it can emit toxic or cancer causing fumes. Garden bonfires are not illegal, but they must never cause a nuisance to neighbours.
Your neighbour might not realise they are causing you a problem. First you should ask them not to light bonfires when smoke will be blown in your direction. (=See our guide to resolving neighbour disputes, if they don’t respond to a friendly request, contact our Environmental Health Team.
Our Environmental health team will investigate your complaint if your neighbour routinely has garden bonfires that cause smoke to either enter your house or garden.
Chimeneas and barbeques (BBQ)
These can be used in any garden. It is important they are positioned in a location that will not cause a nuisance to the neighbours or damage to trees or fences.
Smoke from chimneys
Smoke from chimneys would only be considered a problem if
- The chimney is in a smoke control area; and
- The smoke was from an unauthorised appliance; or
- The chimney is not in a smoke control area but smoke was regularly falling into a neighbours garden or house.
Some wood burning stoves can be used in smoke control areas. See a list of approved appliances on DEFRA website.
How to make an official complaint
To Make an official complaint you must Complete the Request for Formal Investigation form and send us evidence of the continuing disturbance using the Witness Record Sheet.
With all the above problems, it would help if you kept a record of when the problem occurs. For example, noting the date and time, wind direction, temperature, associated smells and where the smoke is coming from.
*Official complaints will not normally be considered unless both the request for formal investigation and evidence has been submitted.