Neighborhood disorders: Smell disturbances (odors)

Verified 10 December 2021 - Directorate for Legal and Administrative Information (Prime Minister)

The nuisances caused by odors (called olfactory nuisance) may, in certain cases, be penalized if they cause abnormal disturbance in the vicinity. To do this, it is mandatory to make an amicable approach. If the unrest persists despite this approach, an appeal to the judge is possible.

Smell disturbance may be considered an abnormal neighborhood disorder if it is caused by an individual (barbeque, garbage, etc.) or by a company (restaurant, factory, etc.).

We're talking about abnormal neighbourhood disorder when the nuisance exceeds the normal disadvantages of the neighborhood.

Step 1: Sending an email

First, it is recommended to send a letter to your neighbor to tell him about your embarrassment and ask him to stop the nuisance.

If the nuisance comes from the condominium building in which you live, you must first check the co-ownership rules. This document may regulate or even prohibit certain practices in housing (use of barbecues for example).

If there is a clause (i.e. a provision) on olfactory nuisance, you must inform the trustee to make the problem known and ask him to enforce the rules.


if you are bothered by strong odors in your neighborhood (home, professional activity nearby), you can contact the municipal health and hygiene service of your town hall. The mayor can appoint a health inspector to see the reality and the extent of the disorder and ask the person who caused it to stop the nuisance.

Who shall I contact

2nd step: compulsory amicable remedy

If the nuisances persist, you must try to amicably reconcile with your neighbor by using a conciliator of justice. This is free of charge.

3rd step: recourse to the judge

If despite your various steps the nuisances persist, you can make a appeal to the court.

At the same time, you can call on a commissioner of justice (former bailiff and judicial auctioneer) to come and observe the disorder. This approach pays off.

You must prove that the odors are abnormal. This evidence can be provided by any means (e.g. testimonies, petitions, findings of the Commissioner of Justice, mail sent to the neighbor).

The judge will assess on a case-by-case basis the anomalous nature of the nuisance according, in particular, to the following criteria:

  • Intensity
  • Frequency
  • Duration
  • The environment in which it occurs
  • Compliance with regulations

If the judge considers that the nuisance causes an abnormal neighborhood disorder, he can impose one of the following sanctions:

  • Payment of damages against you
  • Termination of the lease if the nuisance comes from a tenant neighbor
  • Carrying out work to reduce or eliminate nuisances
  • Suspending or even stopping activity causing discomfort

Who can help me?

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