10 Ways To Deal With Smells from Your Neighbour

Find out how to deal with unwanted smells from your neighbour’s property without causing a rift in your relationship with them.


unhappy neighbour


Anything can cause a disturbance between homes – visually ugly things we have to see, music, shouting or pets we have to hear – these are common issues between neighbours that cause problems. One common issue that isn’t spoken about as much, is smell. Stinky neighbours certainly exist, but how do you deal with that problem? It’s especially hard when you don’t want to upset anyone and you want to keep the peace, right?

Don’t worry, in this article we have 10 ‘keep the peace’ options to consider when you’re dealing with a stinky neighbour:

First Things First – What Is A Stinky Neighbour?

A stinky neighbour is somebody who in some way causes you to have to smell things that you really do not want to smell. It can be a neighbour who doesn’t clear up dog mess, a neighbour who smokes, or even a neighbour who burns a lot of garden rubbish and who pollutes the air in your garden or home. Essentially, they are making it hard for you not to smell them and it’s causing a disturbance to your home life.


Councils in the UK must respond to complaints about smells from industrial, trade and business premises but nuisance laws don’t apply to smells from residential properties. That means the best first approach if your neighbours are causing unpleasant odours is first to let them know it is a nuisance, maybe offer the occupier help or point them in the direction of help such as from the Local Council or Citizens Advice.

What Can Cause Nuisance Smells

Nuisance smells in residential properties can escape into neighbouring properties through extractor vents or weaknesses in the building structure such as poorly sealed doors and windows. This is a particular problem in apartments in converted buildings. Nuisance smells can also emanate from a neighbours garden or outdoor space and affect your enjoyment of your outside areas. The smells themselves can be caused by a variety of issues such as:

  • Blocked drains
  • Strong cooking smells
  • Smells from domestic animals
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Burning rubbish


Keep a “smell” diary

One thing to try is to keep a “smell diary” describing the effect the smell has on your enjoyment of your own home. Make a note whenever the problem occurs – your notes will be helpful if the problem escalates and you decide to try and resolve it. Write details in the diary such as “10 April – strong cooking smells from 11am to 7pm permeating my whole flat even with windows closed.

Talk to your neighbour

It’s often quicker and easier to talk face to face with your neighbour – they may not even realise they are causing a nuisance. Before you do so consider what you think the solution might be so you can suggest it. Take a friend or relative with you for support if that makes you feel more comfortable.

Tell your neighbour how the unpleasant smell is affecting you and what they could do to minimise the issue. Bear in mind though that assessing how much of a nuisance a smell is can be difficult because people respond differently to smells. So listen to your neighbour’s point of view and try to reach a compromise together.

Smells are often a normal part of day-to-day living so the only way to solve the problem is to reach a compromise.


If you cannot reach an amicable compromise then here are our expert tips for minimising the nuisance smells. After all that may be better than moving home just to get away from a bad smell.


10 Ways To Deal With A Stinky Neighbour

Here are ten ways to deal with a stinky neighbour that aim to keep the peace between you:

1.  Help Them Out

Are your neighbours hoarders? Is your neighbour old and they can’t declutter their garden? Why not extend a helping hand to help them get things cleared up, so there’s nothing there to smell bad anymore. You may want to suggest affordable self storage to help them keep extra items in until they feel ready to sort through them, as it can be an emotional task for some people.


2.  Shut Your Back Windows

We all have a right to open our windows, but if the stinky smell is only occurring very occasionally, such as when next door has a barbecue, and you can avoid it by closing your back windows, maybe just give them a close when you need to, opening the front windows for ventilation instead. If you do have a good relationship with them, you could ask for a quick heads up if they are having a barbecue or doing something that causes the smell to waft through. They shouldn’t take offence to this and it stops any bad feelings moving forward.


3.  Add ‘Buffers’

A buffer in the garden could be something like umbrellas, decking roofing or even large shrubs and trees – items which will allow the smell to waft over your garden rather than linger in. It can be quite effective with stinky smells like smoke.


4.  Scent Your Garden Naturally

If the issue is a general bad smell lingering over, you could scent your garden with highly scented roses and other flowers that detract from the bad smell. Try to centre these plants around your seating area, and choose plants that can help provide a nice smell all year round.


5.  Have Less Stuff

If the smell from next door tends to cling to your garden or home items and you’re feeling a bit cluttered anyway, why not have a clear out? You could place some things you need to keep in affordable self storage, and everything else could be sold to make a few bits of extra cash.


sad young man because of inconsiderate neighbours


6.  Mist Some Essential Oils

Essential oils can do a great job of making the garden smell lovely. Just be sure to check the safety of the mixture in regards to the plants, animals and people that use the garden before misting it everywhere.


7.  Absorb Bad Smells With Baking Soda

If the bad smell comes from a kitty using your garden as a toilet you could use baking soda to absorb nasty urine smells. You could also use tips like the ones in this video to encourage the kitty not to access your garden.


8.  Burn Some Candles

Candles are excellent at burning up nasty smells and putting nice scents into the air. You can also often have lots of them burning for a while without having to worry about the cost of electricity. They also provide a lovely ambient light and they don’t cost much to buy either.

Why not use citronella candles so you’re not only dealing with the bad smells from next door, but you’re telling the pesky insects to clear off too!


9.  Encourage Ventilation

Did you know that gardens can struggle with ventilation? They are outdoors, but the way they are designed can actually strangle air-flow and cause bad smells that linger in, to stay in. The best way to add ventilation is to have your shrubs and trees trimmed so there is lots of airflow going through them, something that is important to stave off pests and disease too. You may also want to speak to a landscaper to ask about the best ways to encourage more air flow through the space. Sometimes it is a case of moving things around, or having more movement in general in the space.


10. Move Your Outdoor Sitting Spot

If you have a seated area outdoors that seems to always be next to next door cooking fish on the barbecue or having a cigarette, maybe simply moving your outdoor sitting spot makes sense. If it is easy to move your seating elsewhere without causing you discomfort or too much strain, it could be an easy win that keeps you away from the bad smells.


And If All Else Fails…

If all else fails and you’re struggling with bad smells, then you may feel the best option is to move house but this really should be a last resort – it is expensive and your new neighbours may be no better than your current neighbours. But just in case moving house is on your mind take a look at these helpful guides for our moving house experts:


Everything you need to know about Moving House


Expert Hints & Tips on Buying a House


2 Responses to “10 Ways To Deal With Smells from Your Neighbour”

  1. Tasha

    Some great ideas here for minimising horrible smells from neighbours but why can’t the council do something when someone is causing a smell nuisance? They can if there is a noise nuisance as far as I’m aware

    • MS

      It’s tough Tasha if a neighbour is causing any sort of nuisance. It’s good advice to try and talk to them first but they aren’t always receptive. Citizen’s Advice may be able to help in such cases…


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