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Neighbour Dispute - Cooking Smells - Advice needed

(73 Posts)
MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:21:01

We live in a semi detached house. Our neighbour cooks strongly fragranced foods which seem to seep through our walls into our hallway, bathroom and front bedroom. All these areas connect to the party wall. We have another wall separating the staircase from our lounge which seems to prevent the smell spreading further. The neighbours don't have this wall, it was knocked down so their entire ground floor is open plan.

The neighbour doesn't open windows or doors when cooking and they don't have an extraction fan either.

We have to open all upstairs windows to clear the smell. During the summer, if there is a breeze then it clears, however if not it hangs in the air. In the winter we waste so much money heating the house only to end up opening the windows to ventilate.

All this occurs regularly, around 4 times a week and lasts at least 2-5 hours on each occasion.

We tried to speak to the neighbour on several occasions but she's a bit anti-social and never answers the door. We have written her letters asking her to ventilate her property whilst cooking and have told her how it effects us. She wrote back saying it wasn't her fault and if there is a smell in my house then it must be for another reason!

We contacted Environmental Health who said they could only assist if a commercial business was the cause of the problem. They won't get involved in residential/neighbour disputes.

We're at our wits end and feel that the only solution is to take legal action.

Can anyone advise me what legislation or acts are in place which she might be breaching. Someone mentioned the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Is that right?

All we want is for her to show some consideration and work with us by ventilating her property.

Sorry for such a long post!

VivaLeBeaver Fri 14-Sep-12 23:24:28

I might be wrong but I really don't think you can force someone to ventilate their property. Extractor fans aren't a legal requirement and she's not going to want to open windows in winter, etc.

pictish Fri 14-Sep-12 23:24:30

Never heard of anyone complaining about the neighbours cooking before, so don't know what to advise.
Does it really bother you that much?

VivaLeBeaver Fri 14-Sep-12 23:26:14

I'm amazed to be honest that smells can seep through a brick and plastered wall! But I have a poor sense of smell. Dh goes mad if I cook sausages as he hates the smell and flings the back door open!

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 14-Sep-12 23:29:24

I honestly don't think there's anything you can do, OP. I've seen threads here where cigarette smoke gets into the NDN's place, and there's no legal comeback, so I don't see that cooking smells could be any sort of legal issue.

Can you move?

5madthings Fri 14-Sep-12 23:29:52

sorry but i dont think there is anything you can do!

the neighbours opposite me often cook indian food. the whole cul.devdac smells as they have windows open. its bloody lovely actually! cooking smells are part of life. cant actuallynthink what they are cooking could be so strong to seep through the walls or be so offensive, its food!

MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:31:55

It's really vile. I appreciate it's her own home and she can cook whatever she wants but all we want is to try and get her to air the place whilst she's cooking.

I spoke to a surveyor and he said that the build up on her side could cause it to seep through as it has nowhere else to go. This is true, the last tenant ripped out a gas appliance before they did a runner, the gas starting seeping through so we called the emergency gas line who said had we ignored it we'd have most likely been blown away shock

BustersOfDoom Fri 14-Sep-12 23:32:08

I think you need to get a builder to check out your party wall. Cooking smells should not be able to permeate a solid brick wall, which is what your dividing wall should be. I have never heard of this before.

It is important that you get this checked out as it isn't only cooking smells you should worry about. If your neighbours had a carbon monoxide issue you would be at serious risk. As would they if you did. It doesn't sound normal to me for a semi detached house, both should be separate.

MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:32:31

No chance of moving unfortunately.

MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:33:51

I'm wondering if we have that cavity insulation stuff injected it might help?

CointreauVersial Fri 14-Sep-12 23:36:28

I used to live above a launderette. My whole flat smelled of Ariel. Quite nice. actually; I'm not sure I'd be so happy if it was cooking smells.

Can I suggest you stock up on scented candles and Febreze? I'm not sure there is a lot else you can do.

lindsell Fri 14-Sep-12 23:38:05

You could potentially have a claim for the tort of nuisance but you'd have to show it was an unlawful and unreasonable interference with your use of your property - likely to be very difficult & expensive with no guarantee of success.

If the property is tenanted can you approach the landlord? If it's permeating to your property then it's undoubtedly leaving awful smells in the property which could affect value so he may be willing to install the sort of ventilation that comes on automatically with the light.

MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:40:02

We live in a HA property, I'm going to have to see if they'll send someone round to assess it. I think I'll mention what Buster said about potential carbon monoxide issues.

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 14-Sep-12 23:40:53

I would doubt that a party wall would be a cavity, so insulation wouldn't help.

But, I'm not a builder, and someone else might well know better.

What are they cooking that smells so bad?

MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:43:26

I'm not sure to be honest, it's like nothing I've ever smelt before. We have seen empty cans of cooking oil (Palm, I think) lying around in their back garden.

LRDtheFeministDragon Fri 14-Sep-12 23:45:34

Eww, that sounds awful. My neighbour (flats, so only a flimsy door between me and him) smokes like a chimney and it drives me nuts, but at least I did know to expect that when we moved in. You wouldn't expect it with a semi-detached house!

I don't see what you could do but it would really put me off.

firsttimemama Fri 14-Sep-12 23:46:02

This used to happen in a house I lived in as a child - oohh 30 years ago. It was a solid 1930s built 3 bed semi and it seeped into every room - I remember it clearly.

NCForNow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:46:13

I had a neighbour who used to cook what smelled like rancid mince. It was awful!

Can you maybe try to trace the area where the smell is strongest?

OldLadyKnowsNothing Fri 14-Sep-12 23:47:07

Aha! Does it smell sweetish, like violets?

MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:48:32

It's strongest in the hallway and bathroom upstairs.

MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:52:55

It's a though she's boiling a rancid corpse. Seriously.

Had it been Indian, Chinese, curry etc, I would recognise those smells as I eat them myself. This is different.

She is Nigerian. I know little of the dishes from there so not sure what it could be.

BustersOfDoom Fri 14-Sep-12 23:53:00

I can understand the smell of fabric conditioner coming up through the floorboards from the property below but cooking smells should not be coming in from next door unless the windows are open. It does imply that the dividing wall has no integrity, which would concern me both for carbon monoxide and smoke if next door had a fire.

Although it is possible that the cooking smells are also coming in from under the neighbours kitchen and up through the floorboards it sound unlikely.

There is no reason why two conjoined houses would not be totally separated by a brick wall. Both should be totally separate and I can think of no reason other than a building irregularity as to why one would be able to smell what it going on in next door's house with the windows shut. My DF worked in housing architecture for a LA and this is one of the things he told me.

NCForNow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:54:35

Well I am not being funny but if it is not a recognisable food smell, then tell the HA to investigate! Could be something WEIRD!

MaisyMooCow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:54:52

That has me really concerned Buster. I am definitely going to take it up with our Landlords on Monday.

NCForNow Fri 14-Sep-12 23:54:54

Rancid corpse smell is certainly worth reporting!

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