There are cooking smells coming through from next door following my neighbours renovating their kitchen. What can I do?
Paula Higgins, chief executive, Homeowners Alliance says: I feel your pain. Having pungent cooking smells infiltrating your home can be unpleasant to say the least. Indeed, unwanted smells are such a problem there are laws in place to prevent them. Furthermore, if cooking smells are getting into the house, cigarette smoke/carbon monoxide could presumably also come through.
Under the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990, smells that are deemed to be a ‘statutory nuisance’ can result in hefty fines for homeowners.
However, the phrase ‘statutory nuisance’ is key here. The offending smell must qualify in order for action to be taken. Odours that are classed as nuisances under the EPA include accumulation of waste or smells coming from vermin-infested properties. And you can complain to your council’s environmental department about these.
Unfortunately, however, they won’t do much about cooking smells from domestic properties.
If you’re on good terms with your neighbours, you could mention the issue to them yourself, although be warned this could be an awkward conversation!
You say they recently had some work done. It might be worth checking whether the works complied with building regulations and see what ventilation system has been installed (is there an extractor fan?) – again, this would involve a polite conversation with your neighbour.
If you think building regulations haven't been complied with, you could contact the building regulations department of your council to see if it will get involved.
Short of this, all you can really do is try your best to minimise the smells in your property. An air purifier may help. You could also try leaving a bowl filled with white vinegar or baking soda in the room most affected overnight. This should dissipate the smells.
Paula Higgins is chief executive of property help portal, the HomeOwners Alliance and is one of the organisation’s co-founders.