Noise issues

Noise or unwanted sound can cause annoyance, stress and in extreme circumstances, sleep deprivation. We can investigate the causes of nuisance and try to resolve matters informally, or resort to legal means if we need to.

Action you can take:

If the noise nuisance you are experiencing is coming from a neighbour (for example vacuuming, loud music or TV) you could try to resolve the issue by contacting them first. By explaining the situation to your neighbour you could resolve the noise nuisance immediately, as it well may be that your neighbour is unaware of the disruption they're causing.

If you don't feel comfortable contacting your neighbour face to face, you can write them a letter using our template guide below. 

If the noise issues persists, you can report it to us.

What is meant by ‘statutory nuisance’?

Statutory nuisance is often described as an unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of your property. It must occur regularly and must continue for a time that makes it unreasonable.

We do investigate
  • Bird scarers
  • Building sites and DIY
  • Car alarms
  • Cockerels
  • Dog Barking
  • Intruder alarms
  • Domestic noise (Neighbours TV, radio systems, musical instruments)
  • Pubs. clubs and commercial premises
We do not investigate

We do not investigate:

  • Aviation noises
  • Children playing in the street
  • Domestic noises (for example vacuuming or mowing)
  • Emergency Vehicles
  • Fireworks
  • Noise nuisance from an unidentified source
  • Transport noises (for example cars or trains)
  • Noise nuisance from wild animals and birds

Types of Noise Nuisance

Intruder alarms

Audible intruder alarms can sometimes cause a nuisance to neighbours when they are activated.

To help ensure alarms can be silenced as soon as possible, we maintain a record of nominated key holders who can enter the premises shut it off. To tell us about your nominated key holders, fill in the form at the bottom of the page and return it to us. 

If you have an intruder alarm installed, you are required to ensure that it meets British Standard 4737 for the installation, operation and maintenance of the alarm and that the alarm has a 20 minute cut-off device fitted, however new installations need to consider British Standard EN50131/PD6662 which requires a 15-minute cut-off device.

What happens if my alarm sounds, but there is no-one to silence it?

The Environmental Protection Act 1990 enables an us to obtain a warrant from the Magistrates' Court to enter the premises and carry out such works as are necessary to silence the alarm. Costs incurred, including any necessary to make repairs subsequent to this entry, may be re-charged to you.

We therefore strongly recommend you let us know of your nominated key holders.

Building and construction sites

The generally accepted working hours on construction sites are:

  • 7.00am to 7.00pm pm Monday to Friday,
  • 8.00am to 1.00pm Saturday
  • where possible, no working on a Sunday or Bank Holiday.

There can sometimes be exceptions to these hours when special circumstances demand that work is done at other times. For example, work on railway tracks or stations can only be done when there are no trains; if heavy plant needs to be brought on site the Police sometimes insist on it being done on a Sunday to reduce interference with traffic. In such cases, we encourage contractors to notify local residents in advance.

There are exemptions from nuisance legislation for certain activities such as road building and railway maintenance which mean that enforcement action is limited.

Advice for builders

We have advice leaflets available in English and Polish which give general advice to the building trade on avoiding causing a nuisance to neighbours.

Cockerel crowing

Several measures can be used to minimise cockerel crowing:

  1. Location of the cockerel - It is important to ensure that the cockerel is located as far away as practicable from neighbouring residential properties
  2. Competition - Other cockerels in the area will cause them to compete with each other and may result in excess crowing.
  3. Housing - Keep the coop as dark as possible to minimise early morning crowing as a cockerel will crow when light enters the coop. The coop ceiling can also be lowered to prevent the cockerel throwing back its head and crowing.
Domestic noise

One of the most common causes of domestic noise complaints is loud music and TV noises.  

Some people would accept hearing a loud recording of a violin concerto but they would not tolerate a quieter dance recording with a heavy bass beat. This difference in taste, and often lifestyle, means that music complaints are always difficult to deal with and can lead to stress and arguments between neighbours.

Car alarms

How to avoid problems with your alarms:

Car alarms can be activated when the car battery is running flat, in strong winds or even when cats jump on them. If your car alarm keeps going off, or will not switch off automatically after 20 minutes, it can cause a noise nuisance to your neighbours. To avoid this you should:

  • have the alarm system serviced and repaired by a competent alarm engineer
  • have a cut out fitted to the alarm system and audible warning device that will silence the alarm no more than 20 minutes after the first sound
  • disconnect the alarm system until it has been repaired
  • always ensure that your windows are fully closed when locking the car as wind entering the car can easily set off the alarm.

Sometimes businesses as part of their normal day to day running may cause noise problems with their equipment and machinery or from a music or entertainment business.

Many pubs, restaurants and other premises are licensed for regulated entertainment which can include music and dancing. There will likely be conditions on the individual licence regarding the times the entertainment can be conducted along with restrictions on audibility. Complaints in relation to licensed premises should be addressed to the Licensing Enforcement Officer in the first instance.

Bird scarers

The use of auditory bird scarers is a legal and essential approach for farmers to help protect certain crops, such as oilseed rape from wild birds.  However, if used recklessly they can cause a nuisance to the public. In order to prevent this from happening the National Farmers Union (NFU) have issued a code of practice to farmers on the use of such devices.

DIY noise in domestic properties

We have to accept that many people have jobs during the day and need to do DIY work in the evenings and at weekends.

This does not however mean that DIY should be carried out at all hours of the day and night or for the work to go on for a considerable amount of time. When carrying out DIY works, you should be considerate to your neighbours. 

In extreme cases DIY noise at any time of the day can constitute a statutory nuisance which can be reported to us using the online form above. 

Advice for DIY-ers

Much DIY or building work can be very noisy, so consider your neighbours when you are carrying out work. Follow these guidelines to minimise noise problems:

  • Let them know if you plan to do anything that involves work on party walls or floors or that will be extremely noisy - e.g. floor sanding.
  • It helps if you can agree a time for work when it will least disturb them.
  • Avoid drilling and banging late at night and early in the morning.

What happens after you have reported the nuisance?

  1. We may ask you to complete a record sheet which logs all incidents of the nuisance over a period of time, usually three weeks. Whilst we do not divulge the name of the person making the complaint, please note it may be obvious to them who that is.
  2. If we think there is a problem then we could install noise monitoring equipment for noise cases. We need to establish whether a statutory nuisance is occurring and witness this to take action.
  3. The action we take will depend on the nature of the problem and could range from writing a warning letter to serving a legal abatement notice.
  4. If someone is found guilty of failing to comply with an abatement notice they can be fined up to a maximum of £5,000 for domestic noise and up to £20,000 for commercial noise. If we serve an abatement notice because of excessively loud music, but the problem continues, we may also seize all the sound equipment that is causing the problem.

Response times

For complaints about car or intruder alarms, we will deal with the matter on the day or as soon as possible the next day. For other noise complaints, we will investigate within 5 working days.

Taking your own legal action

There are times when, despite the best efforts of our officers we cannot obtain the evidence necessary to take action in respect of a noise nuisance; this can be due to the unpredictable or irregular nature of the noise. In such circumstances you may wish to consider taking your own legal action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. Please be aware that this can be an expensive process and you are encouraged to seek legal advice.

The procedure is as follows:

  • Keep a written record of the dates, times and nature of the noise and make the notes at the time the noise occurs. It is helpful if some indication of the effect of the noise can be included, for example, "so loud I couldn't hear my own TV".
  • Give notice to the person responsible for the noise that you intend to make a complaint to the Magistrates' Court.
  • Make the complaint to the Court.
  • Give evidence at the court hearing.
Last updated 12 October 2022
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