What Can I Do if My Neighbours Are Smoking Cannabis?

mariam-abu-hussein
Mariam Abu HusseinLegal Assessment Specialist @ Lawhive
Updated on 7th February 2024

If you suspect your neighbour is smoking cannabis whether in their garden or home, you’re probably right. The drug has an unmistakable smell. 

While you might not usually be bothered by what your neighbours get up to behind closed doors, the truth is cannabis odours can be pungent, and dangerous if you have young children that play in the garden.

The smell of weed may also put off potential buyers from putting down an offer on your house.

However, there are steps you can take if your neighbours are smoking weed. In this guide, we’ll help homeowners, landlords and renters in the UK understand what they can do if their neighbours (or tenants!) are smoking cannabis.

We cover:

  • Whether you can call the police if your neighbours are smoking cannabis

  • If the council do anything about neighbours smoking cannabis

  • Whether you should report cannabis smoking to your neighbour’s landlord

  • What landlords can do to stop cannabis being smoked in their property

Is smoking cannabis illegal?

Yes, if a neighbour is smoking drugs in their garden or elsewhere at home, this is against the law.

Whether the distinctive smell is evidence of your neighbour lighting up an occasional joint after work or a sign of an illegal growing and dealing operation, no one wants their peace disturbed at home by antisocial behaviour.

Some people believe an urban myth that says you are allowed to smoke cannabis in the UK as long as it is on private property. Like many myths, this simply isn’t true.

Cannabis is a Class B drug and it is illegal to sell, grow, possess or consume anywhere in the UK. 

Typically, the police will issue on-the-spot fines for cannabis possession, usually £90, they also have the discretion to issue a warning and being caught with cannabis can trigger a maximum of 5 years in prison.

Producing or supplying a Class B drug, like cannabis, carries a maximum sentence of 12 months imprisonment in the Magistrate’s Court and 16 years’ custody in the Crown Court, when on indictment trial. However, a case for possession and supply can also be dismissed and the individual fined.

Medical cannabis was legalised in the UK in November 2018 however it is still fairly infrequently prescribed. The NHS states that medical cannabis is only prescribed when it is in the patient’s ‘best interests, and when other treatments had not worked or were not suitable’. 

The statement above ‘would only apply to a very small number of people’. Therefore, you shouldn’t worry that a neighbour you report for smoking cannabis is doing so medicinally.

Can I call the police if my neighbours are smoking weed?

Yes, you can make a report to the police if you believe your neighbours are smoking weed.

Police will investigate either by making a visit to your neighbour’s house or sending a patrol to your neighbourhood to see if they can catch your neighbour in the act.

If the police smell cannabis when making their investigations, they can knock on the door and potentially search your neighbour and their house if the situation allows them to legally enter your neighbour’s house without a warrant.

You might be reluctant to call the police if your neighbours are smoking marijuana. You might fear that they will find out and it will lead to a neighbour dispute. And while many people who smoke weed are normal law-abiding citizens in other aspects of their lives, you may be unlucky enough to live near or next door to a drug dealer.

To set your mind at ease, if someone suspects you of reporting them to the police they will have no evidence unless you have previously been in dispute. The police will never tell someone who made a report of suspected criminal activity.

The best way to stay anonymous when reporting a neighbour is to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Can the council do anything about neighbours smoking cannabis in their gardens?

Your local council has no power to act against the illegal possession of cannabis.

Councils can investigate smoke coming from premises that is classed as a statutory nuisance, this is outlined in the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Smoke needs to conform to the below criteria to be considered a statutory nuisance:

  • Unreasonably and substantially interferes with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises

  • Is injurious to health or is likely to injure health.

Statutory nuisance is not usually used for weed, however, in the right circumstances it can be.

There is no strict definition of what constitutes a nuisance, however, if you can prove either point above you may be able to get help from the council. In all likelihood, they would report the issue to the police as smoking marijuana is illegal and an abatement notice which orders the person responsible to stop the smoke does not deal with the unlawful practice of smoking weed.

Is it illegal to smoke weed in a rented house?

Yes, it is illegal to smoke weed anywhere in the UK, so yes, it is also illegal to smoke in a rented house.

Landlords will usually want to be made aware that tenants are smoking cannabis on their property as it can indicate poor treatment of the property, and a landlord may wish to evict them.

If you have a dispute with a neighbour about them smoking weed in their garden or property resorting to legal action should be your last resort.

Your first port of call should be to ask them to stop and if they don’t report them to the police. If all else fails you can resolve a dispute with a neighbour by taking action through the courts.

You may need to pay court fees and you will need to appoint a solicitor if this is the route you choose to take.

Should I tell my neighbour’s landlord they are smoking drugs?

If your neighbour lives in rented accommodation you may be considering telling their landlord that they are smoking cannabis in the property.

If you know your neighbour’s landlord you could report the issue to them, however, it's important to be aware that a landlord may not preserve your anonymity in reporting, which could have some repercussions on the relationship with your neighbours.

Because of this, your best option is to call Crimestoppers anonymously

What can landlords do to stop cannabis being used in their property?

If you see evidence of or interrupt your tenants smoking cannabis you should ask them to stop and remind them that this is breaching the terms of their tenancy agreement if there is a no-smoking clause.

If they refuse or say they’ll stop and then renege on their promise you may consider sending them a letter reinforcing this.

To evict a tenant for smoking weed in a property, a landlord must use fault-based grounds, such as Ground 12: The tenant has broken the terms of the tenancy agreement, except for rent payment. However, the court can choose whether to grant a possession order to the landlord for this reason.

Landlords have a duty of care to maintain the peace in the community – if your tenants demonstrate anti-social behaviour or cause problems in the neighbourhood, liability could bounce back to you if a case were to go to court under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003.

Eviction should always be considered the last resort. Sometimes other tenants will report a drug issue to a landlord, in this case as a landlord you will have to manage their feelings also, however, you should start by talking to the tenant that has been accused to get their side of the story.

Get help with a neighbour dispute

If you are locked in a neighbour dispute, our solicitors can help you take proactive steps to remedy the situation in your best interests. 

Alternatively, if you’re a landlord dealing with anti-social behaviour, our landlord and tenant solicitors can help you understand and pursue your options.

Get a free case evaluation today to find out more.

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