So you’ve got noisy, smelly neighbours

October 26, 2016

Neighbourhood disputes can be difficult to resolve. Generally, we have a “live and let live” attitude to neighbours. In Steer v McLellan, the aggrieved neighbour sought an injunction from the Court to, among other things, re-position the neighbour’s barbeque away from the boundary and to stop their dogs dropping faeces close to the boundary, as the smells were causing offence. After hearing much conflicting evidence (as you would expect), the Court refused to grant an injunction for the simple reason that it would be near impossible to frame the wording of an injunction in such a way that it could be enforced. When are barbeque smells reasonable; when are dog droppings inoffensive? In the absence of a total ban on the neighbour having barbeques and dogs, the Court’s hands were tied.

The granting of an injunction is a serious step, because a breach is a contempt of Court which can result in imprisonment. The wording of an injunction therefore must be precise because the person injuncted must know exactly what he is prohibited from doing.

So the best advice still remains to talk to your neighbours and try to resolve what is causing the problem.