Domestic Noise Nuisance

The Environmental Protection Team receives over a 1000 domestic noise complaints every year and whilst there is a wide variety of issues complained about the most common problems relate to loud music, barking dogs and DIY.

In the majority of cases the person responsible for the noise is unaware that they are causing a problem to their neighbour. It is for this reason that it is best to try and approach your neighbour and explain politely that you are being disturbed by the noise. If you feel you can’t approach your neighbour, for whatever reason, then a polite note through the door will often help. Experience tells us that this is the best way to maintain neighbourly relations and friendships.

Despite this, officers are aware that there are occasions when people can’t approach their neighbour, if this is the case we recommend that you contact the Environmental Protection Team using either our Report a Noise Complaint form or via the telephone number 0300 123 5015.

What sort of noise can't be investigated?

Prior to making a complaint it is important to note that whilst officers will try their best to help, there are certain domestic noises which will not amount to a statutory nuisance and as such can’t be investigated. The reason for this is because case law states that noise from the ordinary and reasonable use of residential premises can’t be considered as a statutory nuisance. These generally include lifestyle noises such as:

  • Footfalls (especially between flats)
  • Dropping objects and moving furniture
  • Lights being switched on and off
  • General talking coming from both the house or the garden
  • Shouting unless it is happening frequently and for prolonged periods
  • Slamming of doors or cupboards
  • Flushing of toilets
  • Babies crying
  • Children playing

What action can be taken by The Council?

If, after an investigation, the officers professional opinion is that the noise is likely to cause a statutory nuisance they can serve a Nuisance Abatement Notice in accordance with section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, which will require the noise maker to stop causing the nuisance. If anybody fails to comply with this notice and continues to cause a nuisance the council have powers to do any or all of the following:

  • Prosecution in the Magistrates Court where you can be fined up to £5,000 plus costs, please note that this does not always stop the noise.
  • Undertake the works to ensure the notice is complied with and any costs incurred along with officer time can be recharged to the person causing the noise.
  • Seize any noise making equipment which they believe is capable of causing a noise nuisance.

For more information please see the leaflet – Are You Creating A Noise Nuisance (PDF, 130KB).

What happens if the council cannot take action?

If, after considering all of the information and evidence, the investigating officer determines at any point that the noise is not at a level, frequency or duration to be a statutory nuisance or there isn’t suitable evidence to prove a statutory nuisance, the officer will inform you and explain why they have come to this decision and advise of options that may be open to you. At this point the investigation will be closed.

Taking your own action

In some cases, due to the complexity of some complaints it is not possible for officers to witness the noise (despite our best efforts); hence it will not be possible to determine if the noise is a statutory nuisance.

In these instances Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 allows you to take your own action by complaining directly to the Magistrates’ Court. You will have to produce evidence to satisfy the Court that the noise problem amounts to a nuisance.

Further information about noise

Contact us

We will not tolerate abusive or threatening behaviour and ask that you are civil when dealing with council staff.

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