Chickens can sometimes be a nuisance, causing noise, terrible smells, and sometimes inviting vermin such as rats.
If you have encountered these nuisances, you may be wondering if you can stop neighbours keeping chickens.
Whether or not you can stop your neighbours from keeping chickens depends on the chicken-keeping laws in your area.
What to Expect? All municipalities have laws that stipulate various restrictions. Therefore, it is critical to understand the rules in your location to know the way forward.
Backyard Chicken Laws In The US
Keeping chickens in the US depends on the zoning ordinances in different cities combined with the laws and by-laws.
The zoning regulations include whether or not residents can keep chickens, the number of chickens per area, and whether roosters are allowed.
For Example – In New York, one can keep an unlimited number of hens. However, one cannot keep roosters or other poultry such as ducks, geese, or turkeys.
In most states, roosters are not allowed due to their noise.
Apart from the zoning ordinances, you may also consider:
- your homeowners’ association rules
- lease restrictions on a rented property
- or the building codes stipulated by the local planning offices
If your neighbour is going against any of the rules stipulated in the above, you can use it against them.
Poultry Keeping Regulations in the UK
In line with the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), backyard chicken keeping is allowed anywhere in the UK.
However, those with 50 or more birds must register themselves with details such as their location and bird species.
Those with less than 50 birds are also encouraged to register, but this is optional.
Keep In Mind – Apart from the national laws, there are also council by-laws to consider. While it may be legal to keep birds according to DEFRA, the local council by-laws may prohibit chicken keeping in specific properties.
In addition, sometimes, housing authorities may agree with the local council prohibiting their tenants from keeping chickens.
Lastly, one’s house deed may restrict keeping livestock, including chickens.
If you are in the UK, you should begin by checking whether there is a by-law, covenant, or house deed preventing your neighbour from keeping the chickens.
If not, you may have to seek other avenues to stop your neighbour from keeping chickens.
Keeping Chickens in Australia
Chicken keeping in Australia is under the Department of Agriculture, Water, and the Environment.
Generally, there are no restrictions that could stop one from keeping chicken as they please.
That Said: The local councils may have some by-laws that regulate chicken keeping. It is best to check the regulations in your area.
Steps To Stop Neighbours Keeping Chickens
If you are determined to stop your neighbour from keeping chicken, here is what you can do.
Check the laws in your area
The laws and regulations in your area help you determine whether your neighbour can keep chickens.
Check all the rules from the national level down to the lease agreement.
Countercheck whether the conditions in which the birds are kept align with the laws.
This includes the chicken coop’s location in relation to your property.
In Addition – Consider contacting your local planning offices for land-use regulations to avoid confusion.
Consider the local nuisance ordinance
If your neighbor has followed all the chicken-keeping rules in your area, you may also consider reporting a nuisance.
Nuisance regulations may cover issues such as the noise and odors that your neighbor’s chickens produce.
Depending on the rules, your neighbor may be allowed to address the problems stated before they have to eliminate the chickens.
Discuss with your neighbour
Before you involve the authorities, you may want to consider having a polite discussion with your neighbour.
They may not be aware that their chickens are a nuisance to you or the area’s chicken-keeping laws.
This discussion will help you determine if you need to involve the authorities.
If they are receptive to your feedback, you can help them work on ways to eliminate the problem.
They may not agree to get rid of the chickens, but they can apply tactics to help get rid of the smell, noise, or pests.
A discussion with your neighbourhood association may also come in handy to solve this dispute.
This also helps you get different opinions and suggestions on stopping the menace.
If all the above do not work, you can consider mediation as a dispute resolution method.
Heads Up! Court cases with your neighbour may make living together quite uncomfortable. Mediation is a more peaceful way to go about it, where a neutral party will help you reach an agreement.
How Do I File A Complaint Against My Neighbour?
If the peaceful approach doesn’t work, you can file a complaint.
Contact your local code enforcement department to find out what the process entails.
You may be able to file your complaint online, over the phone, via mail, or in person.
You need to give details such as your name, contact information, neighbor’s address, and violation details.
Can I File An Anonymous Complaint?
This will depend on the rules in your municipality.
If you are allowed to remain anonymous, ensure that you request anonymity.
That said, staying anonymous may weaken the case against your neighbour, especially if you are the only witness.
The investigator may have difficulty putting together a case without your statement.
What Happens After I File My Complaint?
After filing your complaint, investigations begin.
The code enforcement department sends an investigator to your area to determine if there is a violation:
- The investigator should inspect your neighbor’s chicken coop and ask questions about their chicken keeping activity.
- After that, they should also interview you and the adjacent neighbours. This helps them determine if there is a legitimate concern.
If the investigator finds no evidence of a violation, your complaint will be dismissed.
On the other hand, if there is a violation, the department will contact your neighbour and give them a deadline to correct the violation.
If the time lapses before your neighbour takes action, they may be fined or be summoned to court.
Can I Sue My Neighbour?
Yes, if your complaint is dismissed and all other avenues have failed, you can take them to court.
However, this should be your final solution as it strains the relationship between the two parties.
You may also lose a lot of time and money in the process.
You need to evaluate if the nuisance your neighbour’s chickens are causing is worth the effort.
What We Suggest: If you decide to go through this route, you can file a private nuisance claim. It is best to speak to an attorney before filing your lawsuit to determine whether you have a basis to sue your neighbour.
Alternative Solutions to the Chicken Problem
If your quest to get rid of your neighbour’s chickens fails, you may have to settle for alternative solutions.
Keep the chickens away from your yard
If your neighbour’s chickens have been coming to your yard, you can keep them away by:
- Get a dog. A barking dog is enough to keep chickens away from your yard, regardless of the dog’s size. If you already have one, teach them that the chickens are not welcome there.
- Put up a fence. Ensure that the fence is high enough to block the chickens. You can also use netting or chicken wire for the same purpose.
- Install motion-detecting devices. A motion-detecting sprinkler can keep the chickens away from your yard as they hate getting wet. Any time they try getting in your space, the water will scare them away. You can also use motion-activated lights or noise machines.
- Sprinkle some spices. Chickens don’t like being around black pepper or cayenne pepper. Sprinkling these two spices in your yard every few days should keep them away. You can also plant herbs such as chives and mint.
Move to a new place
If you live in a rented house, consider moving to a different location.
While moving may be hectic, you will have your peace restored.
Before You Move: It is best to ask your realtor about the chicken-keeping rules in and around the property. It may be best to settle in an area where chickens are not allowed.
Can I Shoot My Neighbour’s Chickens?
No, even if the chickens are on your property, you cannot shoot them.
It is illegal to do so, and it’ll likely cause more conflicts with your neighbour. Try the deterrent methods suggested above.
Depending on your circumstances, it may or may not be possible to stop neighbours keeping chickens.
Start by finding out laws that govern chicken keeping in your area.
From there, you can determine the way forward. It is best to try using peaceful approaches first before involving the authorities.
This will help maintain a cordial relationship with your neighbour.
If all the methods fail, you can seek alternative solutions to keep the birds away or move.