BBQ smoke leaves me fuming

Our lawyer, Katharine Marshall, gives advice on how to deal with irritating smoke levels from neighbouring barbecues
Legal cartoon
© Merrily Harpur
Question: My neighbour regularly (well, to be more exact, every time the sun shines) cooks outside on a barbecue. I don’t want to sound like a miserable moaner but each time he does, the smoke drifts over the low wall between our two gardens so that I feel I can’t enjoy my outside space.

Is there anything I can do either to reduce the frequency of his barbecues, or to force him to do something to keep the smoke levels down?

Answer: The first approach that might solve the problem is a polite conversation over that low garden wall. If this fails then it is unlikely, but possible, that your property benefits from a covenant which imposes on your neighbour an obligation not to have open fires (which would include a barbecue).

You should check your title deeds to see if there is such an entry. If not then you can complain about excessive smoke drifting over your property to your local council, which can investigate and may give a warning to your neighbour or even, in extreme cases, may take further action.

A lot of smoke could, in certain circumstances, also amount to a common-law nuisance and a claim through the courts, although this may be expensive and an award of damages may be minimal.

What's your problem?


If you have a question for Katharine Marshall please email legalsolutions@standard.co.uk, or write to: Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5EE.

We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here.

Katharine is a solicitor and director at Pitmans Solicitors (www.pitmans.com).

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