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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Our neighbour has a fire pit in their garden which they

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Our neighbour has a fire pit in their garden which they light every evening throughout the summer when it is not raining. Due to the direction of ch prevailing wind, the smoke from this is always blown into our house and garden. This forces us to leave our garden, go into the house and close all windows and doors. We spoke to the neighbours in person last year, getting the reply "Yeah, we'll bear it in mind". The smoke nuisance continued throughout last summer and we were unable to use our garden in the evenings. Environmental Health came out but said that as the fire pit meet regulations it was fine, completely misunderstanding the complaint we made which was about smoke nuisance and the impact it has on our lives.
The problem has started again and I have emailed the neighbours, reminding them that the prevailing wind blows the smoke over to us and it causes us to change how we live our lives. I asked them to stop using the fire pit and requested that they did not use it this weekend when we will be camping in the garden with our two young children. (having been sworn at, verbally abused and threatened with physical violence when I tried to speak to them in person) . Their reply has come back saying "We are not receptive to threats and ultimatums. We are willing to speak in-person if it is polite and non-threatening, if you wish." The irony is not lost on me! I have said That given the threats made to my self (which led to police involvement last year) I am not willing to speak in person but only communicate by email.
Having read up on the subject it is my understanding that if smoke from a neighbours fire pit, wood burner etc. . prevents you from using your garden and forces you to close windows and doors and generally infringes the right to peaceful enjoyment of your property there is a legal case to answer. Where would we stand on this and how likely would we be to succeed if we took them to court?

Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.

Have you reported this to the Council at all please?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
as I explained in my email to you, we completed a two-week smoke disturbance diary last year following which an Environmental Health Office came out but was under the impression we were questioning the legality of the firepit rather than making a complaint about nuisance smoke.Having read the information on this website it appears that we do have a legal case.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Please find attached a document containing the email communication I have had with my neighbour. The message at the top is my reply which was sent at around 8:15am this morning.

Yes you do have a case but Environemntal Health need to consider this as a complaint under the Environmental Protection Act. Indeed you can take civil action.

You can get a local solicitor to write and ask them to stop the nuisance or say you will go to court.

If they refuse then you can issue proceedings for them to stop. You would need to complete form n1

And n16a

The court would list the matter for hearing and decide whether to make an order preventing or limiting them doing this.

If the court does and they breach it this could be contempt of court which they could be warned, fined or sent to prison.

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?


Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do I have to go through the whole process with Environmental health again or can I just get a solicitor to send the letter now?How much would solicitor charge to send such a letter?

You can go to the solicitor now. The cost would be around £250. But EH is free. That is why I suggested it.

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The problem we have with Environmental Health is that it is never the same person who deals with the complaint on the phone so, as happened last year, we spoke to them to report smoke nuisance but by the time an EHO actually got notified it was written down as illegal fires. This wasn't our complaint. I am concerned that the apparent incompetence (or Chinese whispers approach) at out local EH means that we won't get anywhere this time either. Is there anyway to be sure that it will be dealt with as smoke nuisance from a legal fire and not simply illegal fires?

Ok, then you should send a solicitor letter and then issue proceedings. It is a legal nuisance.

Does that clairfy? Ale.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
O.K. What happens if we get a solicitor to issue the notice, they ignore it, we go to court and then an injunction is not served? Will we be liable for their costs too? What sort of costs are we looking at for this process?

You can ask the court for costs when you get the injunction, but the application for injunction and the injunction itself must be personally served.

To get an interim probably about £1000 and contested hearing about £10,000

Does that clarify? Alex

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In addition to being a legal nuisance, is it also a breach of our human right to "peaceful enjoyment of our possessions" under Article 1 of the protocol, protection of property? as we are being forced out of our garden and have to close all windows and doors every time they light the fire pit?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Is there any legal aid for this because we wouldn't be able to afford these costs!

No, you can't get legal aid for this which is why I suggested Environemntal health again. Alex

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
O.K, it looks like we are going to have to run the gauntlet of the incompetent officials at Environmental Health.Can we send a solicitors letter and then not proceed with the injunction, almost like an official warning?

Yes you can. You don't have to follow through.

Does that assist? Alex

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
O.K, thanks for your help I think I will get in touch with Environemnetal Health again if they keep lighting the fire pit and then if that doesn't have the desired effect I will get a solicitor's letter sent.It's good to know that we do have a case but it is a pity that the costs prevent us from following it through and getting a legal injunction on our neighbours as I suspect we will have this problem every summer for as long as they (or we) live next door.

Indeed. I am sorry it's not better news. If I could invite you to rate my answer before you go today please, otherwise the site does not credit me for the time spent with you today. Thanks and good luck. Alex

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
O.K, I will do the rating before I leave. Can I just ask whether you felt my initial email to the neighbour was, as she put it, "intimidating and threatening"? (I attached this to a previous message on here.) as I don't wish to give her any grounds for complaint and can alter the tone, content etc. . of future correspondence to prevent giving her any leverage.

No, I thought it was fine. But they are paid to be tough.

Does that clarify? Alex

Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thanks. I'm an English teacher and thought it was fine too but just wanted to double check!Thanks for all your assistance this evening it has been most helpful and reassuring and I am now clear about how to proceed.