Property Clinic: For this to be a legal nuisance, it must amount to unlawful interference with your use or enjoyment of your land
– Bird droppings can make for an unpleasant environment
We would be very grateful for your advice. Our neighbours leave out large pieces of bread to feed the birds. Unfortunately, this is mainly attracting large groups of crows, which are landing in our garden. The crows drop these large pieces of bread in our yard, which could obviously attract vermin and is extremely unhygienic.
The crows also land on our roof and make lots of noise, which is really problematic as we often work at night and so need to sleep during the day. Our fence and garden are continually covered in bird droppings. We are very surprised, as our neighbours have very young children who are often outside with these birds, which appear fearless. What options do we have in dealing with this matter? The neighbours are aware of our unhappiness with the situation and have made no efforts to address it.
Nuisance is an unlawful interference with a person’s use or enjoyment of land. The interference must be unreasonable and may be caused by any number of acts.
By feeding the birds your neighbours are causing nuisance to you. Seeking to have this ended by order of the courts would appear excessive. Legal responsibility only arises where a person failed to take reasonable steps to abate the nuisance once they knew or ought to have known about it. Although your neighbours are “aware of your unhappiness with the situation”, you should bring the nuisance to their attention formally by writing to them, setting out the issues caused and inviting them to desist from feeding the birds for the reasons you have set out in your question.
If they fail to heed your formal request, you may wish to lodge a complaint with your local authority and request that the matter be investigated from a public-health perspective. If your neighbours are not the owners of the property and they are renting it, then you should also contact the landlord. If, having informed your neighbours, they fail to stop feeding the birds, you will be better placed to make a stateable claim against them, at which point you may consider exploring alternative dispute resolutions as a sensible, cost-effective way to resolving the issue. It would be best to try to resolve the issues with your neighbours amicably.
William O’Connor is a solicitor and partner at P O’Connor & Son Solicitors