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.