Sat | Mar 24, 2018

A matter of land | Help: 'Fowl' stench preventing me from enjoying my property

Published:Sunday | August 21, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Craig Francis
A chicken coop similar to the one which is causing a 'fowl' smell for a reader.

Good day, readers. This week, I address another concern of a reader.

Dear Mr Francis,

I have some neighbours who moved in in 2014 and started rearing chickens. Our premises are joined at the back and I am above. The front of each is on a different street.

Since they started, we are fortunate if we get half-day fresh air occasionally.

The fumes/odour from what seems like bleach, motor oil and other chemicals blanket my home and we inhale same.

Depending on what odour/fume is in the air, our bodies react. I can feel it in my mouth, eyes become watery, I cough, my sinus drains and my throat is under constant attack. They also burn the waste after killing the chickens. It seems this is being done in a container and takes days to burn out. Even when it is raining, it goes on. It is really a miserable situation.

I have spoken to the owners at least three times. I have called and written to the authorities several times. After their intervention on two occasions, we got a break for a few months and then it was back.

My title has a clause that says: "No building erected on the said land shall be used for the purpose of a shop, school, chapel, church or nursing home and no trade or business whatsoever should be carried on upon the said land or any part thereof."

Do you think the same would be on theirs, since we are on different streets?

I have been living here for more than 37 years and have never experienced anything like this. The doctor said I will have to move. What else can I do?

Your kind assistance will be greatly appreciated.

- R.R.


Good day R.R.,

I can imagine your sense of total frustration at being unable to enjoy your place of residence owing to the 'fowl' stench.

It is very likely that the same restrictive covenants will be on their title as, despite being on different roads, it is part of the same residential community.

Based on the nature of your letter, it doesn't seem to be a farmstead or farm-size lots, thus the rearing of animals in that magnitude is not allowed by the restrictive covenants.

This malodorous chicken farm' in the vicinity of your residence is a nuisance to you and to the enjoyment of your property and shouldn't be allowed to continue.

The Public Health Act prohibits any person from carrying out any action that will cause a nuisance on any premises owned or occupied by him.

A nuisance is anything that is injurious to health, such as unreasonable noise or smell or pollution that defaces property. Essentially, any unreasonable invasion of one's interest in the free use and enjoyment of one's property is considered a nuisance.

The remedy for you, R.R., is to have the medical officer (health) or the public health inspector serve notice on the offending party to abate the nuisance. Failure to abate the nuisance could lead to legal proceedings against the offending party for non-compliance.

You have indicated that the authority has tried but has not succeeded in effecting a complete abatement of the nuisance. You can also appeal to the local authority as the neighbour is in breach of a restrictive covenant, and they can instruct them to comply with same. Again, it might be that you will have to consult an attorney-at-law, who will advise you of the options open available to you to have the nuisance abated.

Until next time. Traverse well.

- Craig Francis

• Craig Francis is a commissioned land surveyor and managing director of Precision Surveying Services Ltd. He can be contacted for questions or queries at or Precision Surveying Services.