Noise problems

Noise from neighbours

Noise from neighbours is a common nuisance complaint received by Environmental Health Departments.

The main problems arise from domestic activities such as barking dogs, loud music, TV, radio, shouting and DIY. But noise problems can also come from commercial or industrial activities such as construction noise or loud music from pubs.

No house or flat is totally soundproof and you shouldn’t expect total silence from your neighbours. However if you feel the noise is not an isolated incident - and you are being seriously disturbed - it is not unreasonable for you to make a complaint.

Your options

  • Approach your neighbour and explain politely that you are being troubled by the noise. A lack of communication with neighbours is thought to be a major cause of increased noise complaints and about half of all noise makers claim to be unaware they are causing a disturbance. Try it - the response may surprise you.
  • If the direct approach does not work - or you find it difficult to approach your neighbour you could always try community mediation. Trained mediators act as ‘go-betweens’ to organise a meeting between the neighbours in a neutral venue where neighbours are encouraged to talk constructively about their situation and find a way to work things out.
  • If considering sound insulation or structural change to a property we can provide practical advice on noise reduction measures.
  • If the noise maker rents the property, then contact the landlord. Most tenancy agreements include a requirement not to cause nuisance. A breach of this can lead to eviction.
  • Report it to us for a formal noise investigation to be carried out. This involves a legal investigation under the Environmental Protection Act 1990. It is important to try and resolve the matter in a reasonable and amicable way first.

Can the council help?

We receive many complaints about a range of noise problems. We adopt a balanced and managed approach to noise complaints and seek to resolve most cases informally. Our Environmental Health staff will take all reasonable steps to investigate noise complaints which may include installing noise recording equipment into your home. If a statutory noise nuisance is found to exist, a legal notice will be issued to secure its abatement.

A statutory noise nuisance is a significant and unreasonable emission of noise that substantially effects the way you use and enjoy your property. It is more than annoyance or the mere detection of a noise. In determining a nuisance other factors will also be considered such as the time of the day, your location, duration, frequency, volume and character of the noise.

The procedure

  • We will write to the noise maker advising that a complaint has been received and request co-operation in preventing further complaints. We will aim to do this within five working days.
  • All complainants’ details are kept confidential and are not released to the noise maker unless agreed. Situations may occur where it will be self evident who is affected and has therefore complained. If you have concerns you may wish to discuss these with the case officer.
  • As part of the investigation you will be required to keep an accurate diary of the noise disturbance including the type of noise, its duration, time and date it occurred, and how it affected the way you use and enjoy your property - this can include outside areas. Diary forms will be sent out within five working days.
  • If forms are not returned within six weeks the complaint will be closed. If completed forms show unreasonable noise disturbance, it will be necessary for an officer to collect independent evidence to substantiate this, such as witnessing the noise and/or installing noise recording equipment into your home. This equipment is simple to use and you have full control over when and what it records.
  • As part of this process we will try to liaise with the noise maker to try and secure improvements informally
  • Should evidence show a statutory noise nuisance is found to exist a Noise Abatement Notice will be served on the noise maker to prohibit its re-occurrence or restrict the noise level.
  • For repeated offences the noise equipment (eg stereo system), may be seized.

The effect of such a notice is to make any further occurrence of the nuisance a criminal offence punishable, on conviction in the Magistrates Court, by a fine of up to £5,000 or £20,000 in the case of commercial premises.

Should the noise continue more evidence will be collected to prove the notice has been breached.

If it becomes necessary to take formal action the council must be able to justify its action in court. Because you are directly affected, you will be asked to provide a witness statement and may be required to attend court. It must be stressed that this happens in the minority of cases. However if you have a complaint and are not prepared to go that far you will have to accept that we may not be able to resolve the case.

Taking private action

Regardless of our investigation, private action can be taken by complaining directly to the Magistrates’ Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

If the Court is convinced there is a case it will make an order requiring the nuisance to be abated and prohibit it’s re-occurrence.

Report it

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Further information

Contact our Environmental Health team on 01609 737138 or download this information as a leaflet: