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Is it legal to leave my outside Christmas lights on all night?

As part of our Is it legal to... Insights series, we’ve gone a little festive to explore how your twinkly lights might constitute a distracting nuisance rather than a Christmas delight!

Whilst Christmas lights are an important part of the festive holidays, it may cause some bah humbugs to grumble.

Whilst there is no law specifying that you have to turn off your Christmas lights at a certain time, there are laws surrounding ‘nuisances’.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, a statutory nuisance can be caused by artificial light (including decorative lighting, laser shows and light art).

If the Grinch who lives next door makes a complaint about a light nuisance to your local council, the council are obligated to investigate. Typically, councils assess one or more of the following:

  • Whether it interferes with the use of a property.
  • Whether it may affect health.
  • How it’s likely to affect the average person (unusual sensitivities aren’t included).
  • How often it happens.
  • How long it lasts.
  • When it happens.
  • Whether it’s in the town or country.

What could happen?

If they believe a statutory nuisance is happening, the council can serve an abatement notice.

This may require the activity to stop, limit it to certain times, or include actions to reduce the issue.

If you don’t comply with an abatement order, you could be fined or prosecuted.

It would therefore be best to speak to your neighbours before decorating your Santa’s Grotto to ensure that no neighbourly disputes arise.

Thank you for reading our Is it Legal to... series this year, and we look forward to exploring more commonly asked legal questions in 2024. If you have an idea about a legal question you’d like answered please get in touch via enquiries@fosters-solicitors.co.uk – we’d love to hear your question and add it to our series!

May we also take this opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year from everyone here at Fosters Solicitors.

This article was produced on the 13th December 2023 for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.