Law guide: Complaints and disputes

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Animal-related problems

Animal-related problems

Irresponsible dog ownership

Irresponsible dog ownership is a major source of complaint, and pets can cause nuisance, intimidation and distress to others. Dog fouling can lead to harmful infections, is unpleasant and degrades the environment. For more information, see our Dog fouling section.

Most animal-related complaints are of:

  • Constant barking
  • Fouling of footpaths
  • Allowing dogs to intimidate individuals

Taking action

Individuals concerned about noise or other nuisance caused by animals should talk to the person responsible and explain the problem. They may find that they can resolve the problem amicably. If the direct approach does not succeed, mediation can be effective.

The RSPCA or USPCA can be useful partners in dealing with animal-related problems. They can advise on the animal's well-being and whether the accommodation is suitable. The local authority may also have an animal welfare officer.

All landlords, whether social or private, have powers to take action against tenants who are breaching their tenancy agreement by causing nuisance to neighbours, for example, with dogs that are not kept under proper control. This may include injunctions, which can be highly effective as preventive measures to reduce the nuisance caused.

Barking dogs

Where the barking is deemed to be a statutory nuisance by the local authority, an abatement notice must be served under s80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990) in England and Wales.

However, in Northern Ireland, you will need to contact your local council's environmental health department to find out what their procedure is for dealing with this type of nuisance and usually an abatement notice can only be served after the local council's procedures have been followed, which may include keeping a log of when the noise occurs, installing recording equipment and legal action against the owner.

An environmental health officer can use fixed penalty notices (FPN) and noise abatement notices to stop a noise that is causing a statutory nuisance. For more information on abatement orders, the EPA or PCLGO and statutory nuisance, see our Pollution section.

Social landlords may take out an Anti-social Behaviour Injunction (ASBI) on a tenant for causing noise nuisance in breach of their tenancy.

An Anti-social Behaviour Order (ABSO) (in Scotland or Northern Ireland) or an injunction or Community Protection Notice (in England and Wales) may be taken out on individuals causing noise nuisance irrespective of their type of tenancy.

For more information, see our Solutions (England & Wales) or Solutions (Scotland & Northern Ireland) chapter.

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