LAWLINK: Animal animus

Q: We live in a small suburban estate about four miles outside Limerick City. Each property has a substantial amount of land to both sides and the rear.  One of our neighbours died recently and his daughter has moved into the property. She is very ‘green’ and is now rearing chickens and other small animals. We think she even has a pig! She is a lovely person and we get on very well, but the noise (and occasionally the smell) are getting to be a bit much. Is there anything we can do?

A:The first thing you should do in any situation like this is to speak to your neighbour and see if any accommodation can be reached amicably.

Perhaps this is a short-term plan while sourcing another location for the animals. Perhaps she does not realise the impact the animals are having on you and your other neighbours.

As the keeper of hens and chickens, your neighbour is obliged to register the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, regardless of the number of chickens she has.

There are obligations as regards keeping hens and chickens, but they only apply to flocks of more than 350 birds. Your neighbour still has a general duty to ensure that the hens’ welfare is maintained and if you have a concern in this regard you can make a complaint to the local authority.

Sign up for the weekly Limerick Post newsletter

When it comes to pigs, there are legal requirements as regards accommodation for such animals. These regulations are quite technical, so a relevant expert might be required to confirm whether or not the pig is being housed in an appropriate and compliant manner.

She is also obligated to ensure that animals do not stray and don’t pose a risk to other animals, pets, or people in the neighbourhood.

Aside from animal welfare issues, it is likely that all houses in the estate are subject to restrictions and obligations in the initial transfer from the developers to the initial purchaser. These obligations are assumed by every owner. Generally, these restrictions are the same for each property in a development.

You should seek to obtain a copy of the initial Estate Transfer to ascertain exactly what restrictions on use there might be, as it is likely that there would be some manner of restriction on the keeping of the animals.

As the transfer to you will be the same to a transfer to your neighbour, you should contact your solicitor and request that they take up a copy of the transfer instrument from the Property Registration Authority so you will see what the obligations and restrictions are.

It may well be the case that the local authority and/or the Environmental Protection Agency could provide some assistance in the event that there are sustained noise or odour issues.