Rules and Regulations

There are no national rules or regulations in the UK that stop you from keeping small numbers (less than 50) chickens however there are some regulations to check first.


  • DEFRA: You are allowed to keep up to 50 chickens on your land without registering with DEFRA, however after the avian influenza outbreaks, a poultry register was set up in 2005 and you are required to register if you keep more than 50 poultry on the premises – so you need to take into consideration any other poultry you have. There is more information on my page: DEFRA: The Poultry Register
  • By-Laws: There are occasionally by-laws for certain properties that prevent people from keeping livestock. Check with your local council that this doesn’t apply to you.
  • Covenants: There are sometimes covenants put in place by housing authorities and councils to stop tenants from keeping chickens at their property. This seems to be a local decision as there are no national restrictions.
  • House Deeds: Again, the deeds of some properties may state that you are not allowed to keep chickens (again, often stated as keeping livestock). If your property is free of restrictions, you should be able to keep chickens without a problem, however do keep in mind that local residents may complain to the council about noise levels if you keep a cockerel.

There are a number of Laws, regulations and requirements that can affect you (in the UK) and I have created a number of sub pages to cover these briefly:


  1. my neighbour is erecting a chicken run approx 2m x 2m right on our joint border, which is approximately 10m from my house.
    Are their any UK restrictions regrading this?
    I live in helston, Cornwall.

  2. Bylaws, Covenants and House Deeds cannot prevent you from keeping hens. Check the Allotments Act 1950 S12(1). It explicitly states that keeping hens is always lawful unless it is in unsanitary or nuisance conditions…

    • I’m not sure the Allotments Act applies to back gardens? It would be good to find out.

      What I’ve heard though is that there are a number of challenges on an earlier statute that gives people a right to keep chickens, although I’ve not yet heard of anyone that has been successful with this yet.

  3. I live in Haringey North London and can’t find anything on their website regarding keeping chickens in my council house garden ???.
    Can you help me please.
    Catherine Hill.

    • I’m sorry Catherine, you’d need to call them and ask them, I don’t know if it’s permitted or not.
      Usually the deeds of a house will state any covenants but if you rent, I guess it should be stated in your contract.

      • Ok thanks,I did read that I don’t need a licence or permission if I only have 2 hens,and their not a problem with noise They are pretty quiet until a neighbor’s cat starts watching them from the top of the fence then it’s like they turn into fog horns letting me know he’s there,really funny actually cause for the last few days it’s at the same time & he’s not really camouflaged cause he’s mainly white with big black spots.
        I shouldn’t have any problems with them unless someone wants to be nasty and put in a complaint.
        Catherine .

  4. We live in Hertford, we bought a house next door to a housing assoc. house. The young couple that were living there when moved in exchanged house with another family because they needed more room. The family they exchanged with moved in with 15 chickens! The gardens were not that big, their garden turned into a large chicken coop! In the summer the stench was horrendous. The housing assoc. did nothing regarding our complaints. We sold our house and moved, when I hear of people wanting to keep chickens, I think yes one or two, maybe three, but not fifteen,

    • A very fair comment. I get comments here from people asking for help because of complaints or because they are not allowed to keep chickens, BUT it’s important to see the view from both sides of the fence. No pun intended!

  5. Hi, I keep reading articles which says you should check your deeds for permission, but we don’t have the deeds to our house? Don’t you only get the deeds when you’ve bought it outright? I’m confused. Our house is mortgaged. Where else can you find this information? I’m in the UK.

    • The solicitor would normally have these during a house purchase and then (I think) pass them to the mortgage company.
      I think you can get a copy from either of these two.

  6. Please can you advise what is the recommended distance from a house you can keep a chicken coop.
    Many thanks

    • I don’t believe there are any rules on that? At least I haven’t read any.

      Ultimately, if it’s near a neighbours house you don’t want to cause a problem with noise, so it’s about common sense really.

  7. We are Not nasty people because our neighbours are wanting chicks and we and the adjoining neighbour object to it strongly . The deeds clearly state no fowl although the bungalows were built 53 years ago It is a private housing estate, with close neighbours and the noise, smell , the flies and the dreaded vermin and an extremely large shed (nothing to do with these chicks ) taking up half the garden leave an under floor gap just waiting for anticipating rats . These are not too tidy neighbours .No we are not nasty just common sense prevails.
    PS the allotment running at the backs of our gardens are not allowed to keep chicks

  8. Hello I have just had all the fencing which is mine replaced , due to having brought a neglected property , now as you can imagine this was quite costly , everything was done above board discussed with all neighbours , now during this lock down period the neighbours at the back of me have decided to keep chickens , but they are using my fence as the back of their chicken shed . the coup they have built has no back , no raised floor , my brand new fence is the back of the chicken shed , I also suffer from emphysema, which will mean that I will not be able to sit in my garden , when lock down is finished , what I would like to know is , can they use my fence as the back of their chicken shed , I don’t object to them keeping chickens , but I am concerned with them using my fence like this , is there any thing I can do

    • Hi Georgina,

      I’m certainly no expert and have no legal training, however, I think that if that boundary is yours in your deeds and you put the fence up, it is your property. That would mean you can ask them to move the chickens off the fence and make good any damage.

      As I say, I’m not a legal person so I’m the wrong person to give advice like this, but that’s what I think the law would say.
      Whatever happens, if you approach it in a nice way, hopefully, they will be understanding and resolve it with you.
      Do let us know how you get on.

  9. Thank you this is interesting. I’ve just tried searching on my council’s site for “chickens” but nothing pops up. I’d love a couple of hens but not sure about the neighbours…

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