If a property is in such a condition that it causes nuisance, Environmental Health Officers can investigate. Where a nuisance is confirmed, the owner of the property causing the nuisance can be required to carry out works to remove the nuisance.
Public Health Nuisances
Public health nuisances can be defined as 'a premises which is kept in such a state as to be offensive or injurious to health' under Section 29 of the Health Act 1956.
This covers a range of situations including excessive amounts of rubbish, overcrowding, raw sewage, breeding of pests (mosquitoes, rats, cockroaches), unsanitary living conditions, asbestos containing materials, chemical contamination, etc.
When Environmental Health Officers receive a complaint they will inspect the property and if a health nuisance exists, the officer may issue and enforce health nuisance abatement notices, cleansing orders or repair orders.
Where Environmental Health Officers consider it necessary to put an end to the nuisance without delay, the officer may enter a premise without notice and put an end to the nuisance. All expenses incurred will be recoverable from the owner or occupier of the premises.
A one-off incident will rarely constitute a nuisance as an element of repetition is usually required. It is also necessary to put the alleged nuisance in the context of the locality, as something which may be a nuisance in a residential area may not be in an industrial location.
Rubbish and Litter
We receive a wide variety of complaints about dumped rubbish. They are handled differently, depending on the relevant legislation.
It is an offence under the Litter Act 1979 for any person or body corporate to deposit or leave litter of any kind in a public place or on any private land without the prior consent of its occupier.
Action under the Litter Act can be taken when there is evidence as to who the offender is, for example:
An eyewitness recording a car registration number
Letters with addresses within the rubbish itself.
When rubbish is deposited with the consent of the landowner, such as people simply failing to remove their refuse from their property and a nuisance situation is created, the Health Act 1956 is used to instigate follow up action.
The Complaint Process
If you have a complaint regarding litter or rubbish, contact the Environmental Services Unit, phone (06) 374 4080. In most cases we will simply make a formal request to the offender to remove the rubbish within a stipulated time frame.
In some cases, we will issue instant fines, particularly when the problem is significantly dangerous or offensive.
Although prosecution can be taken under both pieces of legislation, this is very rare. It is the most likely course of action when offenders fail to remove the rubbish, offend repeatedly or when the offence is of such a serious nature that it poses a significant risk to public health.