Dealing with Noise
Everyone has the right to the quiet enjoyment of their property
If you are experiencing problems because of noise caused by someone else there a number of ways to resolve the problem
Address the problem yourself
You can contact the person causing the noise yourself either in person or in writing. This is the simplest and often the most effective solution. You should only do this if you are confident that the person will not turn violent in response to your complaint. Many people causing noise disturbance are unaware that they are doing so and will respond to a non-confrontational approach
The problem is that some neighbours who cause noise abuse are fundamentally unconcerned about other people. They may ignore your approach and could respond by increasing the volume or frequency of the noise.
When attempting to address the problem yourself you should never
- Become aggressive or confrontational
- Adopt a "tit for tat" approach where you respond to their noise by creating your own noise disturbance. This approach never works and will potentially impact on your other neighbours
Contact your local council
Under the Environmental Protection Act your local council are required to investigate noise complaints as they constitute a potential statutory nuisance.
You should do this and in many cases this will result in a satisfactory reduction in the noise, particularly where the noise follows a predictable pattern. There are several potential problems with contacting your council
- As this is a local authority service it is up to each council to determine what resources and focus it dedicates to dealing with noise problems. Not surprisingly the quality of service offered varies dramatically between individual councils.
- The fact that you have made a complaint will probably need to be disclosed if you try to sell your house. This could reduce the value of your house or in extreme cases make it very difficult to sell
- The council officers will need to collect evidence of the noise. They will ask you to keep a log, which you should do, but they will probably want to witness the noise themselves. If after several attempts they do not witness the noise they will potentially dismiss your complaint.
Take legal action yourself
Individually you can initiate legal action, even where the council have refused to do so. There are two ways in which you can do this
- Make an application to the Magistrates Court arguing that the noise constitutes a Statutory Nuisance. If you convince the magistrates then an abatement notice will be issued, but you will still need to enforce this.
- Make a common law claim for damages. This is an unusual route but one that has potential advantages. If you can convince the court that the noise level has caused you sufficient detriment then they will find in your favour and award damages against the defendant. Damages provides you with compensation for the noise abuse but also gives the person causing the noise a good reason to stop the noise. If the damages you are claiming are less than £5000 then the action would be initiated by yourself in the Small Claims Court and it wouldn't be necessary for you to appoint a solicitor to represent you, although some form of legal advice will be essential
Taking legal action yourself is a complex and problematic approach, but for some sufferers of noise abuse it may be the only avenue left to them. NCPA provide detailed advice on these options to members. Click here to become a member
Other possible solutions include
- Use of noise cancelling devices. These can work well, but this approach is essentially part of learning to live with problem rather than addressing and reducing or removing the noise abuse. We can provide members with information concerning the best approaches to noise cancellation.
- Moving house. If you rent your property this might be your best option. You should make sure your landlord knows why you are moving as this may encourage them to take action to stop the noise.If you own your home, and are not planning to move anyway, this is very much a last resort.
- Learn to live with noise. It's your choice but unless the noise is negligible will really don't think that you should have to do this. The fact that you are reading this probably suggests that you agree with us.