What we can investigate

  • Loud music from neighbours

  • Extractor fans e.g. from takeaway restaurants
  • Shop delivery trucks at unreasonable hours
  • Industrial machinery
  • Entertainment
  • Ventilation systems
  • Alarms
  • Factories
  • Dog barking
  • Construction and demolition
  • Music from shops, pubs and clubs

What we can't investigate

Whilst all complaints are treated seriously, we can't investigate the following:

  • Anonymous complaints*
  • Noise from unknown sources
  • Common domestic noise (e.g. lawn mowers, washing machines, hoovers etc.)
  • Road traffic, railway or aircraft noise
  • Emergency vehicles
  • Fireworks in the street
  • Traffic noise (including essential maintenance) - see the Highways England
  • Railway noise (including essential maintenance) - see the Network Rail
  • Aircraft noise - see the Civil Aviation Authority

*If you wish to make a complaint anonymously we'll still record the complaint but we won't be able to investigate as the law requires officers to assess the impact that noise has on the person who has complained.

What you can do

The most important thing you can do before contacting us is to try and contact your neighbour or the business yourself, explaining the issue and how it's affecting you.

Most importantly ask if they can do something about it. You'll probably find that in most instances they might be completely unaware that they are causing such a problem. 

If you're a Golden Gates Housing Trust (GGHT) tenant please use their online form.

What we do following a request for service

Following recent government advice concerning managing coronavirus (Covid-19) and to keep people at the lowest risk possible, we'll be facilitating business differently until further notice.  

Your request for our service will be reviewed and prioritised. Please send the advice letter to your neighbour when possible before compiling evidence via our noise diary or completing our online form. You may find that this may resolve the problem more quickly.

Diary sheet

Our noise diary should be downloaded and completed to record the disturbances for a couple of weeks.

The diary sheet must be filled out accurately, as there's a possibility that this will be used as evidence in possible legal action. Once you've completed the diary sheet, it must be signed and e-mailed to us. Where possible, we'll review the completed diary and contact you. 

Following current government guidance, the council has made changes to some face to face services. In particular, we will no longer be able to visit you in your home. Given these restrictions, our officers will identify the best course of action for your request for service. 

These are unique and challenging times for everyone, and we thank you in advance for your co-operation.

I've informed I'm making too much noise, what I can do?

Knowing that someone is affected by your noise can be upsetting, but you shouldn't take it personally. By approaching you directly, the complainant has shown they want to solve it informally. Consider what they have said, and if you think there is any truth in it, quickly take steps to reduce your noise.

If you know who's being disturbed, you may want to politely approach them and advise them what you've done/are planning to do to see if it's solved the problem.

Guidance on being a good neighbour

We encourage people to try to resolve noise issues between themselves before contacting us. However, if the complainant alleges that the noise is continuing, we have to investigate, and an officer will contact you. 

We always try to keep to the facts without taking sides, giving informal advice on reducing unnecessary noise.

Unfortunately, a few people choose to cause excessive noise knowingly. In these cases, we can carry out noise monitoring, either in person or using electronic sound recording equipment to prove existence or likely occurrence of a statutory noise nuisance.

Being a good neighbour

We frequently get complaints about noise from loud music or TVs, DIY, barking dogs, car repairs, intruder alarms and sometimes household appliances or musical instrument practice. The best advice is to use common sense and try to be considerate of your neighbours.

Top tips to prevent noise nuisance

  • Keep your music or TV volume as low as possible, particularly late at night when people may be trying to sleep
  • Put speakers away from party walls and preferably on rubber mats
  • Reduce the bass
Alarms

There's nothing worse than a house alarm going off for no reason, so make sure;

  • your house alarm is installed correctly, and serviced once a year
  • car and house alarms should cut out after 20 minutes
  • complete a keyholder registration form which will give us contact details for someone who could help us if your alarm goes off when you're away on holiday
  • make sure your alarm isn't faulty and ensure it complies with BS 4737. Inform keyholders that you're away and ask them to make regular checks of your property
DIY

DIY jobs can create a lot of noise. You can reduce the impact on your neighbours by:

  • warning them that you're going to be carrying out some noisy DIY work
  • carrying out work during regular working hours
  • making sure that you complete the noisiest tasks the best time to least impact your neighbours
  • if you have to start early, try to do the quieter jobs first - some people work from home, and some people work nights
  • seeing if there's a quieter tool available - hand tools can sometimes do the job just as well
  • when buying power tools, check them for noise ratings
  • make sure your devices are well maintained and using lower/quieter settings wherever possible
  • avoiding DIY activities late at night and on Sundays - if you're going to cause a great deal of noise for a prolonged period, tell your neighbour in advance
Garden noise

Gardens are places to relax and entertain, but they also need maintaining. Your neighbours will be able to hear any noise you make in your garden, so:

  • carry out your noisiest activities in the middle of the day
  • if you have a noisy job to do, warn your neighbours (this could be something like trimming your hedges or power washing your patio) - if possible, agree the best time to carry out this work with your neighbours
  • where possible, use CE markings to help you purchase quieter equipment and maintain your equipment properly
  • don't put noisy water features, hot tubs or wind chimes near neighbouring properties. If you can, switch them off/silence them at night or if you go away
  • if you're planning a barbecue or party, tell your neighbours - invite them if appropriate
  • wear headphones if you want to listen to music, or the radio while sunbathing/mowing the lawn
  • if you want to let off fireworks, proceed with care – let your neighbours know
  • remember, it's illegal to let off fireworks after 11:00 pm (except for Bonfire Night (5 November), Diwali, New Year's Eve and Chinese New Year)
Party/event

Here's a few handy tips if you're planning a party:

  • keep windows and doors closed if you're having a party
  • if you're having an outdoor event, remember that noise will travel and affect people further away
  • remember that noise is more likely to become a nuisance when people would generally be sleep
  • a one-off a party will rarely be a legal nuisance, however always try to be reasonable – if you can, let the neighbours know in advance and give an approximate finishing time. Let them know that they can come round to the property if the noise is a problem. Always act to remedy the noise if you receive complaints
Loud music

Music that's too loud can be annoying for your neighbours, so:

  • keep the volume down, especially the bass which is more annoying than higher frequencies - don't place speakers on or close to party walls, ceilings or floors
  • if you have a TV in your bedroom, please keep it quiet at night – especially if your bedroom is next to an enjoining property
  • if you play an instrument, practice when it will least annoy your neighbours - don't use amplifiers, use headphones where possible use mutes for wind instruments and pads and brushes on drums
  • if you want to listen or play music at a louder volume, then you can use headphones - just be aware that turning your music up can damage your hearing
People

When you're at home you should avoid the following:

  • slamming doors, especially if you live in a flat with a shared entrance, and especially late at night and early in the morning
  • slamming cupboard doors can also be annoying, especially those that are fixed to party walls. You can try using isolating wall plugs when fitting cupboards
Pets

Pets can often be the main cause of noise complaints. It's always best to ensure:

  • that dogs are content, if they're not, they bark. Make sure your dog is well-fed and exercised if you have to leave it alone. A tired dog barks less.You might leave a radio on, or ask a neighbour to check on them. If your dog still barks, you might want to consider dog training, or doggie daycare
  • if you have a dog which is kept in the yard or garden while you're away from the property you have no idea whether the dog is barking when you're not there. Don't leave your outside for long periods.
  • if your dog is kept inside, keep them away from party walls and away from windows
  • if your cat goes out fighting and wailing, and a neighbour complains, you could try to make sure you keep it inside at night
  • if you have a caged bird, make sure you keep it where it's least likely to disturb your neighbours, especially at night
Household appliances

Loud household appliances can often be a cause for complaints, so we'd advise that:

  • you try to purchase quieter models when looking for new appliances
  • place washing machines on even, concrete floors, don't overload them, and run them at a time when they'll least disturb your neighbours. Remember, the final spin is the noisiest bit
  • try to be considerate when vacuuming - don't do it late at night or early in the morning
  • if you're putting in a new boiler, remember the legal distances from windows when siting it. Get a plumber to check any pipes and cistern noises
  • make sure extractor fans are fitted securely, to ensure they don't rattle. Keep them clean so that they run smoothly
  • try not to put your fridge or freezer against a party wall. Vibration can pass through the structure, and also through floors, so if you live in a flat, don't put your fridge above a neighbours bedroom
Cars

We recommend the following:

  • don't carry out car repairs early in the morning or late and night, and try to warn your neighbours about really noisy jobs
  • don't slam car doors, sound horns, or play your music so loud that it can be heard outside the car
What will happen if it is a statutory noise nuisance or anti-social behaviour?

If it can be proved that the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance, we'll serve a statutory abatement notice, requesting that the noise cease immediately or after seven days. 

Noise can also be classed as anti-social behaviour (ASB) and can potentially harm an individual, or the wider community. Officers may investigate noise complaints using powers under ASB legislation. 

We can also serve notices, which requires steps to be taken to comply with this notice. If it's disregarded, it may result in a fixed penalty notice, prosecution and fines along with works being carried out in default and recharged.

The notice will request steps are taken to reduce noise within a specified time. There's no set period as the works required to reduce the noise will vary; for instance, a factory will require more time to replace a fan, whereas a stereo can be turned down immediately.
 

What is a statutory noise nuisance?

Many factors are considered to determine something is a statutory nuisance including:

  • Location - Is the noise typical for the area? A cockerel crowing in the country is more accepted than a cockerel crowing in a quiet residential area.
  • Time of day - A statutory nuisance can exist at any time; however the effects of noise late at night when most people are more likely to be sleeping would be given higher weight than the same noise occurring during the day.
  • Frequency - How frequently are you affected by the noise? Noisy parties held weekly or monthly would be viewed differently to one held occasionally.
  • Duration - How long are you disturbed? A dog barking at the postman or occasional passer-by would be viewed differently to one barking most of the day.
  • Sensitivity and intensity - How loud is the noise and how intrusive is it? We all have different thresholds and tolerances. In determining nuisance, the judgement would be how the noise would affect an ordinary individual, not someone who had a particular sensitivity to the noise.
  • Number of people affected - A view will be taken on the number of people who are, or could be, affected by the noise. If only one person complains when the whole street could equally be affected, then the conclusion may be that the individual making the complaint could be unduly sensitive. 

In very few cases, the person responsible for the noise chooses not to comply with the notice. In such instances, we'll take further legal proceedings, which may include a court case and seizing all noise-making equipment such as televisions and stereos. 

If the party/individual is found guilty of failing to comply with a Noise Abatement Notice by the court, they could be given a fine and served with a criminal notice.

However, if after monitoring, we decide that the noise isn't a statutory nuisance or despite best effects we're unable to witness the noise over a reasonable period, we'll close the case. 

Taking your own action

If we've investigated and can't establish that a nuisance exists you can take your own action to the local Magistrates' court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.