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