Noise from neighbours can be irritating and very annoying. Excessive noise can reduce the quality of life and, in some extreme cases, can even destroy it completely.
Everyone has a right to reasonable enjoyment of their home and garden.
Local authorities have a number of powers to deal with noise. The main legislation is that relating to statutory nuisance in Part III of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Noise from neighbours is a common source of nuisance and can originate from barking dogs, loud music, machinery, alarms and frequent parties. Neighbours may undertake construction and DIY activities at their premises during normal daytime hours. However, if works are unreasonable or occurring at antisocial hours, we can investigate.
Please note that some neighbour noises, such as from children, raised voices, footsteps, doors being closed etc, cannot normally be dealt with under the Environmental Protection Act, as this is often an indication of poor sound insulation or may constitute everyday living. Also, the council has no enforcement powers to remedy complaints of noise caused by aircraft, road traffic and trains.
Whether you own or rent your property you are entitled to the same consideration within the laws.
Remember that no house or flat is totally soundproof – everyone can expect some noise from neighbours. Environmental Health consider that each resident can reasonably expect:
- not to have their nights sleep disturbed by noise;
- to be protected from significant loss of amenities due to noise;
- to have suitable trained staff where necessary to assess nuisance;
- not to hear excessive noise from someone else, in their property on a regular basis.
Noise nuisance can occur at any time of the day or night, and the Environmental Protection Act does not specify times at which statutory nuisance can or cannot occur.
What should you do before you make a complaint?
It is a fact of life that the sounds we all make every day, although acceptable to us, are likely to be unwanted by someone else. One person’s music is another person’s noise.
- Before making an official complaint firstly try talking to your neighbour, they may not be aware they are causing a problem. It maybe that the problem can be sorted out quite quickly.
- If however you do not feel comfortable speaking to the neighbour directly, you could write a letter explaining the problem, offering them the opportunity to talk to you about it.
If you live in a rented property you should also contact your managing agents or landlord. Housing association tenants should in the first instance report any problems to their Housing Association as they have powers under the terms of the tenancy which will enable them to take action.
We all like a party from time to time, and enjoy listening to music. Where this is only very occasional and the music is controlled, most people will be tolerant.
If you intend to hold a party, please consider the following advice:
- Inform your neighbours and let them know when it is and when you plan to finish.
- Arrange the music so that it only entertains your guests – not the whole neighbourhood!
- Come indoors, close all windows and doors, and turn the volume down after 11pm.
- After 11pm check that it is no longer audible outside your home.
- Ask your guests to leave quietly (put a notice on the door).
It is quite a different matter if the parties become too frequent and the music is played too loud, or late into the night.
Making a complaint about noise
If you are regularly disturbed by noise from the same address contact a member of the Environmental Protection Team by:
Officers will write to the person causing the problem and ask you to complete diary sheets showing frequency, duration, times and type of noise. Once they have been returned to Environmental Protection, officers will be able to assess these and then decide on the next course of action for the noise to be witnessed. There are various methods to do this, installing a noise recorder, planned visits or our out of hours call out service.
Where we assess that a noise coming from a person or property is unreasonable and is causing a noise nuisance we have a duty to serve an abatement notice requiring the person to eliminate the ‘unwanted noise’. Failure to comply with the notice is likely to lead to a fine of up to £5000 and/or seizure of all noise making equipment and accessories (e.g. Music system, computer, laptop, tablet etc.) Permalink