Are there any legal problems with using a stink bomb in your own garden?
April 20, 2017 3:58 PM   Subscribe

This is an odd question I know, but are there any legal problems with releasing a stink bomb in your own garden or the entry behind your garden in the UK?

I know this is probably a ridicolous idea and question I'm currently unable to spend much time in my garden due to some obnoxious people working in the two business units that are around 3m from the bottom of my garden. There's a lot of noise, but at least in a pinch I can wear headphones, although that defeats the point of me being in the garden as I want to hear the birds. The main problem though is that they're smoking cannabis in the rear fire escape route. This means that my garden is filled with the smell of cannabis smoke - the other day I opened my kitchen door and was hit by the smell. This gives me a splitting headache and means that I really can't be out in my garden until the smell goes away. As holding my breath or wearing a vapour mask isn't really an option.

They've been told to keep the fire exit doors shut by the letting agent and the environmental health officer. They say they'll keep them shut to these people, then will open the doors and keep them open throughout the day. Having experience of someone else who was like this, I know that sometimes the only way to get them to listen isn't with words but actions. For instance my ex fiance, when he was lodging with me left bread crumbs all over the kitchen, despite me asking him nicely to clean up after himself. He'd say he would but never did. The only time he did start cleaning up after himself was when I put his bread crumbs in his bed.

Obviously this would never normally be my first choice, but I feel that the only way to stop them smoking cannabis is to make life uncomfortable for them in some mild way. For more information they're smoking in a fire escape route that they're using to store old tyres, next to a metal cabinet that I'm presuming is a solvent safe, and by the open fire exits of a car body shop with flammable paints etc. So it's not just that I can't go in to my garden when they're doing this, it's also a safety issue.

So my idea is to get some stink bombs and each time they start smoking cannabis right next to my garden, I'll drop one in my garden next to the gate. I've never used a stink bomb before, so I presume in the open air they'll dissapate fairly quickly. But hopefully it'll make it unpleasant enough for them temporarily to encourage them to not smake cannabis by the gardens and to shut the fire exit doors as they've been told to do.

I'm going to tell my neighbour about the plan as he spends time outside during the day too. Though he's smelt the cannabis smoke as well as my friend further down the road. So hopefully he'll understand.

I've contacted the police who said they won't do anything as it's just smoking and they lack manpower. Enviromental health say it's the police who need to deal with it. And the HSE say it's the job of enviromental health or the police to look into it. So I doubt they're going to just listen to the letting agent telling them not to smoke, as they've ignored him already. So I really have exhausted every option.

So the main question is are there any legal reasons not to release a stink bomb in my own garden? Or possibly the joint entryway next to my neighbour's garden? As I said, I'm aware that this must sound like a ridiculous plan but I can't think of anything else, so other ideas are very welcome.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Dude just escalate the police inaction to your local politicians, mayoral/borough would be your best bet. They will make police pay attention, really they will.

But honestly, man, I've been reading along with your saga of the workshop. Unless you own your place, moving would be the best route to your happiness I feel.

Don't stink up your neighbourhood, two wrongs don't make a right.

(ps you're going to be very disappointed if you think joke shop stink bomb will be anywhere near strong enough for the intended effect)
posted by smoke at 5:13 PM on April 20 [9 favorites]

If you can see them, or at least see the open doors, can you record them in some way, say with photos (with date and time stamps) or on video? Then you will have something to show to the letting agents / EHOs. I would also log each breach in writing.

And certainly use your local councillors - this is why they're voted into their roles, to represent local concerns and fight the good fight on your behalf. Some of them are even good at it.

Failing that, sometimes local MPs can write a letter to the relevant person at the local council or police station, and while they're all going to be gearing up for June, it might be worth a punt.

It's always possible that a fox might wander along one of these spring evenings, after the unit has shut, carrying a chicken carcass or similar that it somehow manages to get unobtrusively wedged somewhere in the vicinity of the door. It's very possible that this could happen in an urban environment. I bet that would start to fume pretty quickly after a few warmer days. Foxes really are a nuisance.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 5:37 PM on April 20

Releasing noxious smells from your property to another property is potentially an actionable tort.

Depending on where you are, stink bombs may also be a bylaw infraction. They're sometimes regulated along with fireworks.
posted by jacquilynne at 5:49 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]

Have you uhh, talked to these people?
posted by so fucking future at 6:00 PM on April 20

Thanks for the comments everyone. I must admit I'm not thinking straight at the moment due to the stress of the noise pollution and the worry about the fire hazard etc. It's one of those things that is more satisfying to think about than do. I feel like I'm trapped in my front room and have started dreading leaving work due to the noise.

I'm already photographing, videoing the doors open, and have gotten footage of them smoking by and in the building. I've reported all the problems to all the right people. At least with the noise, whilst distressing and preventing me from enjoying my property, I can stand the noise for a brief moment to enjoy the sight of my garden. The cannabis fumes however prevent me from not only going outside, but also from even opening my kitchen window, as otherwise I'll end up with a splitting headache.

Smoke, I do own my house so moving isn't an option at the moment. I'll try the local politicians, see if they're of any help. Although after emailing them about the dangers possed by converting the unit next door to these two into a gymnastics studio they may not be very co-operative.

So fucking future, I'm a woman living on my own, I don't really want to piss them off and risk retalliation because they know where I live. My other half is already worried about my safety. Besides, the letting agent talked to them and told them to keep the doors shut and they ignored him. The environmental officer talked to them about the broken chimney that is releasing paint spray and fumes into the local gardens. They lied to him and said they'd fixed it, when all they'd done was add a tiny elbow joint on to it. The environmental office told them to keep the doors shut, they ignored him. They are smoking, and discarding possibly lit cigarette butts, next to tyres and a metal cabinet that I can only presume is something like a solvent store. They are ignoring the people who have the power to do something about it, so why would they bother listening to me?

I think for now I'll just day dream about playing with stink bombs in my garden as a way of trying to de-stress. Because I certainly can't do anything else I love doing to unwind without the awful noise or smell.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 6:24 PM on April 20

Have you talked to any of your other neighbors about this? If you can find one or two people who agree with you, you might be able to accomplish a little more.

Or, yeah, escalate legally, step by step. Don't defeat yourself. Steady on. Also, take a vacation away when you can just to refresh yourself.

People do have to occasionally fight -- using all their resources, mental and legal -- to defend their territory. It's not necessarily unwinnable.
posted by amtho at 6:57 PM on April 20 [4 favorites]

I remember your last question. Amtho has it. If it is that bad it must be bothering other people. Organize.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 7:44 PM on April 20

Thanks amtho and Mr. Yuck, my friend who lives down the road is bothered by it too so is filling in the diary sheets as well. My direct neighbours are both slightly deaf so aren't as bothered by the noise. I'm going to try and chat to other neighbours over the next few days.
posted by Ranting Prophet of DOOM! at 7:51 PM on April 20 [1 favorite]

I have had very similar thoughts about neighbor rudeness. I would not recommend a stink bomb.

However. Do know about bokashi? It is a method for anaerobic composting. It's really cool, and it REALLY stinks. A lot. Like death. And you have plausible deniability completely covered. Just sayin. You don't even need to buy anything to start, any sealed container of a 1/2-5 gallons will do. Mail me if you want more details :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:02 AM on April 21 [1 favorite]

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