1. What is nuisance?
Nuisance can be understood as any on-going or recurrent activity or state of affairs that causes a substantial and unreasonable interference with people’s property, or with their use or enjoyment of that property. Common types of nuisance include noise, smoke, fumes and smells, dog barks and water leakage.
If residents cause a nuisance to their neighbours, the residents are civilly liable for nuisance and can have civil proceedings brought against them under the tort of private nuisance. If your neighbour causes a statutory nuisance, you may also lodge a complaint with the relevant government department.
For more details about nuisance, please visit Daily Lives Legal Issues > Disputes with neighbours > An overview of nuisance .
2. Who can sue for nuisance, and who can be sued?
Owners or occupiers with the right to exclusive possession, such as tenants, are entitled to sue for nuisance. The right to exclusive possession means the right to prevent others from using or invading the property without your consent. Members of the owner’s or occupier’s family living in the affected flat who are mere licensees are not entitled to sue.
On the other hand, the person who creates a nuisance is primarily liable. If an owner or occupier does not create the nuisance, but knows about it, or has a way of knowing about it or that it is likely to happen in his flat and allows the nuisance to continue, he is liable.
For more details, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Disputes with neighbours > Private nuisance .
3. What are the possible remedies for nuisance?
A person affected by a nuisance may commence legal proceedings to seek damages for the actual loss suffered. Damages usually include repair costs, alternative accommodation costs, loss of property value, and general damages for annoyance, inconvenience and discomfort.
You may also seek an injunction to restrain another person from continuing to create the nuisance.
If you suffer loss or damage arising from a nuisance caused by your neighbour, you may sue the person in the Small Claims Tribunal if the amount claimed does not exceed $50,000.
If the nuisance continues, the Small Claims Tribunal may not be the proper forum for the dispute, as it has no power to grant an injunction to stop your neighbour from causing further nuisance. In that case, depending on the amount of the claim, the District Court or the Court of First Instance may be a more appropriate venue.
For more information about possible remedies for nuisance and taking civil action, please refer to
For more details, please refer to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Disputes with neighbours > Private nuisance > D. Remedies .
4. Are there any regulations for noise arising from domestic renovation works?
Yes. No powered mechanical equipment can be used to carry out renovation works from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on any days or any time on a general holiday, unless a valid construction noise permit has been issued by the Noise Control Authority.
However, if an owner or tenant of domestic premises carries out small works on his own with a portable mechanical device, this is exempted. The exemption however does not allow the making of any noise which is a source of annoyance to any other person between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., and at any time on a general holiday.
For more details about noise nuisance, please go to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Disputes with neighbours > Common types of nuisance: Noise .
5. I suspect my neighbour’s flat has water leakage problem which affects my flat. What should I do?
The Joint Office of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) and Buildings Department (BD) has published a pamphlet entitled “Do-it-yourself water seepage test” , which introduces various methods to identify the source of water leakage. The owner should co-operate with the neighbour to carry out the tests referred to in the pamphlet.
If the water leakage is suspected to originate from a flat above or next door, the owner should quickly approach the owner and the occupier of the suspected flat to investigate and arrange repair work to stop the leakage.
If the water leakage is suspected to originate from the common area of the building, assistance may be sought from the managers or the incorporated owners of the building, as they are responsible for the maintenance of the common parts of the building.
If the owner cannot resolve the dispute with his neighbour, he may lodge a complaint with the Joint Office of the FEHD and BD.
For more details, please go to Daily Lives Legal Issues > Disputes with neighbours > Common types of nuisance: Water leakage .