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Neighbour Noise FAQ

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about neighbour noise and what you can do about it.

Before you complain

I want this noise to stop what can I do?

Speak to your neighbour - the best way to deal with any issues you have with your neighbour is to speak to them. They may not know that their dog barks all day or their teenage son plays music very loud when they go out.

If the problem relates to a noisy party late at night then it is probably best to wait until the next day before approaching the neighbour.

I don’t think I can approach my neighbour myself what else can I do?

You could write to them letting them know the effect their behaviour is having on you. If the problem affects other neighbours, involve them as well. It can be easier to settle a dispute if the complaint comes from a number of people.

We have a template letter you can use in order to write to your neighbour.

A tenants’ association might help if you’re a member of one.

I have done all this but it’s still happening, can you do something?

If your neighbour’s behaviour is substantially interfering with your enjoyment of your home then we will be able to take action. This cannot be a mere annoyance. An example of this would be that a noise is so loud you need to turn your own TV up to be able to hear it.

Investigations

What sort of things do you take into account when investigating?

When investigating a noise nuisance, we are trying to find out whether there is a statutory nuisance. If there is a statutory nuisance, then we must take action. In order to determine whether a statutory nuisance exists, we consider the following:

  • How often the noise nuisance happens
  • The loudness and character of the noise
  • The duration of the noise nuisance on each occasion it happens

Next door has been having a very loud party until midnight every Saturday night for the last four weeks and I can’t sleep - what should I do?

In general complaints like this are best resolved by speaking to the person causing the noise and telling them that you would like it to be quieter so that you can sleep. We would recommend that you do this the following day when you may be calmer and there is less likelihood of there being issues related to alcohol consumption.

If this does not work or you do not feel that you can contact your neighbour about this then you can report a noise problem and the Council shall investigate. We will require Noise App reports or diary sheets to show that this was not a one-off event. If the parties are very regular (e.g. weekly) the investigating officer may decide that it will be quicker and more effective for an officer to try and witness the incidents instead of using recording equipment.

If we witness behaviour that is determined to be a statutory nuisance we will serve an Abatement Notice on your neighbour which will require the noise nuisance to stop immediately. Breach of an Abatement Notice can result in a prosecution or seizure of their noisemaking equipment.

How do you witness the noise nuisance?

Before any noise monitoring by the Council takes place the person who is responsible for causing the alleged noise nuisance will be written to and advised that we have been provided with evidence (Noise App reports and/or diary sheets) that they may be causing a nuisance. The letter asks them to contact the Council to discuss the case so we can advise them what is acceptable. It also acts as a warning that we are investigating their behaviour so that if formal action is subsequently taken, they cannot appeal on the grounds that they did not know that their behaviour may have been causing a nuisance.

We may install noise monitoring equipment, which records the levels of noise you are experiencing and can record the actual audio when it is triggered. We may also visit to witness the noise in person. However, if we visit on three occasions when we are told that noise is occurring  or is likely to occur and no noise nuisance is witnessed, then we shall end our investigation. It is important that you can be as accurate as possible in regard to the times and likelihood of the noise nuisance occurring (this is partly why the Noise App records and diary sheets are essential).

Can you just send a warning letter?

In general we cannot ask someone to change their behaviour when we have no evidence that they are doing anything wrong. Therefore we require some evidence in the form of Noise App reports or diary sheets to substantiate the complaint before contacting the person making the alleged noise. The information contained in those reports / diary sheets is also useful in advising the person responsible for the noise what it is that is causing the issues so that they have a better idea what they can do to minimise or stop the noise. If the noise relates to dog barking we may be able to offer the services of our Animal Services team, who can give advice on methods to prevent excessive barking.

Will my neighbour know who has complained?

In the early stages of a complaint the person who is causing the noise will not be told who has raised the complaint, although neighbours can often guess who has made it. Unless instructed to do so by the person making the complaint, we will not tell the other party who has made the complaint.

At what stage will my name be known to my neighbour?

If the matter should come to court either as a result of an appeal or if the abatement notice is not complied with, then you will need to give evidence in most cases. It is not possible to do this anonymously. If an investigation reaches the point where giving evidence is required to proceed with the case, the person complaining has the option to withdraw from the process if they wish to remain anonymous to the other party. If that occurs then no further action can be taken against the perpetrator and the case will be closed.

However, we can offer support to people who feel they are at risk and signpost to other agencies such as victim support if necessary.

I think my neighbour is doing this just to intimidate me how can I stop this?

If this is the case we will refer you to our Anti Social Behaviour Team who have experience in dealing with these problems.

What can you do about the noise made by my neighbour's children playing?

We cannot take any action regarding noise from children playing.

Complaints about me

What happens if my neighbour complains that I am making too much noise?

Nothing will happen unless we are given evidence that their complaint is valid. The initial evidence that we require is the submission of Noise App reports or diary sheets which provide detail on what the noise is, when it is happening and audio recordings if the Noise App is used.

If the Noise App reports or diary sheets do not show that you are making too much noise then the person complaining will be told and the case closed. We will not need to contact you to say that a complaint has been made.

If the Noise App reports or diary sheets suggest that there may be a noise nuisance, we shall write to you to advise that we will be investigating and may carry out monitoring. At this point we would recommend that you contact the investigating officer for advice on what is reasonable noise.

Monitoring can include the use of recording equipment and/or officers visiting the home of the person who has made the complaint. If the monitoring demonstrates that the noise is a statutory nuisance then the Council have to take formal action to stop the unreasonable noise continuing.

What does interfering with a person’s enjoyment of their home mean?

It means unreasonable behaviour affecting someone else in their own home.

What happens if I think that my behaviour is reasonable?

Nuisance law requires the Council to consider what the average person would find reasonable. For example an average person would agree that it is reasonable to carry out DIY to your home. However if the DIY starts early in the morning and/or went on until late at night and stops your neighbour from sleeping then that would not be reasonable.

If your TV is so loud that the neighbours can hear what you are watching and have to turn their TV up to hear it then that is not reasonable.

I am a bit deaf so I have to have my TV quite loud to hear it?

We cannot take into account any personal or medical issues when making our decision regarding statutory noise nuisance. Having the TV at a volume so loud that your neighbours’ enjoyment of their home is affected would not be reasonable for an average person. If that is the case then you may need to look at alternative measures such as using headphones or subtitles.

I don’t like the thought of someone monitoring the noise from my home?

The noise monitor will simply pick up what your neighbour can hear with the naked ear. The official guidance on surveillance and monitoring makes it clear that if someone makes noise that is audible in neighbouring properties or outside they have forfeited their right to that noise being private. However, the complainant does not have access to the recording and we will only listen to it to determine if there is a statutory nuisance. The recording however, may be used in court if necessary.

I think my neighbour has complained because of a long standing dispute?

The Council is under a legal duty to investigate allegations of noise nuisance irrespective of whether there are any other neighbour disputes.  Therefore we will still investigate issues related to nuisance behaviour following our own procedures. If there is insufficient evidence to substantiate the complaint then no action shall be taken against you. If you would like us to, we can refer you to our Anti Social Behaviour Team who have experience in dealing with these types of problems.

How can I help it if my alarm goes off when I am on holiday?

Alarms going off accidentally can be extremely annoying - often waking up an entire neighbourhood. If you have a car or intruder alarm, please make sure it is properly fitted, regularly maintained and has a cut out so that it turns off after a short period.

The Council has powers to disconnect your alarm if it is causing an annoyance to your neighbours. If this occurs you shall not only be responsible for the costs of re-connecting the alarm, but also the costs that the Council have incurred in disconnecting it. We strongly urge you to register a key holder for your premises with our department so that we can contact them in the event of a complaint being received. This can save you aggravation and expense if your alarm goes off accidentally when you are out or away.

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Last updated 18 June 2020
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