Noise disturbance is by far the most common type of anti-social behaviour reported to the police, local authorities and housing associations and nearly every aspect of anti-social behaviour involves some level of noise whether it be loud music, parties, multiple visitors frequenting a property, banging, alcohol related disorder, foul and abusive language to name but a few.

Who do you report noise to?

Prior to making a formal noise complaint to your Local Authority, ASB Help would strongly suggest you attempt to have a reasonable discussion with your neighbour or even write them a note to try and resolve the issue.  They may not even be aware that they are causing a problem.  

We strongly recommend you DO NOT RETALIATE.  If you get into a tit-for-tat situation (e.g. they play loud music at 2am, so the next night you hoover at 5am, so then the next day they start banging on the walls, etc.) it can quickly get out of control.  

If speaking to your neighbour proves unsuccessful or you do not feel it is appropriate to approach your neighbour, then depending on nature of your complaint, would dictate your next course of action.  

Primarily, the Local Authority’s Environmental Health Team is responsible for investigating noise nuisance complaints e.g. loud music, dogs barking, door slamming or similar.  However, if the noise is because there are frequent visitors to a local drug den next door, then your housing provider or local authority’s ASB would be the most appropriate route.  

Help to report the anti-social behaviour in the right way Act Now!’ Interactive Guide

Being Reasonable

When living in a flat, semi-detached or terraced house hearing some noise from neighbouring properties is inevitable.  Babies will cry, children will play, toilets will be flushed, taps turned on, doors occasionally slammed and everyone is more than likely to exchange words with a partner within their own home at some point. 

In society today, we often do not know our neighbours. Keep this in mind when you experience any annoyance or nuisance. If on a summers day your neighbours had a barbeque and there was music and lots of noise from everyone talking and having fun, would this be considered anti-social behaviour? If you had had a bad night with your children for example or was trying to sleep in the day because of shift work, does that make the BBQ anti-social?

Bear in mind that if you do not know your neighbours, they do not know you either.  So, if this is the first and probably only BBQ that your neighbours have had this year, and it’s the middle of the day on a Saturday, then that is clearly not something to bother the police or local authority about. It may simply be a party and a one-off event.  There are things we can do to shut out an annoying noise – go out for a few hours, use earplugs if trying to sleep, or put the TV on. Do not let a situation get out of control – if not dealt with quickly, it can escalate.

Sound Insulation

Poor sound insulation is a problem in many homes.  If often means you can hear domestic noise from your neighbour such as footsteps, talking, dropping objects or children playing.  This can be stressful, but you might have to learn to live with that noise.  Legally they are entitled to go about their life creating normal amounts of noise without having to worry about how it affects you.  You may struggle with noisy kids or perhaps your next door neighbour is hard of hearing and has their TV too loud.  Yet we do need to balance a level of tolerance with others when it comes to anti-social behaviour.

Statutory Noise v Nuisance and Annoyance

In order for noise to be considered a statutory nuisance it must meet one of the following legal tests:

If one of the above is met, then a Noise Abatement Notice can be served (click link for further information).

Environmental Health Officers have the ability to issue warning notices for noise between 11pm and 7am which does not meet the statutory threshold, but it is believed that it may exceed the permitted level.   The warning will request that the noise is reduced to the permitted level within a certain timeframe.  If this is not adhered to, a person may receive a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN), face prosecution or their noise equipment may even be seized. 

However, what if, after investigating the noise does not meet the threshold to issue a Noise Abatement Notice or the noise is in the daytime but still ongoing and causing a nuisance and annoyance to you and possibly others residing nearby.   There are options such as mediation, good neighbour agreements, ABCs, tenancy warning letters and mediation that could be pursued.  In these instances your housing association (if appropriate) or Local Authority ASB Team may be able to assist.

Furthermore, the ASB Crime and Policing Act 2014 introduced a power for Local Authorities and Police to issue what is known as a Community Protection Warning (CPW) and Community Protection Notice (CPN) and these have been used in cases whereby the noise is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those within the locality, persistent and continuing in nature and unreasonable.  

Dog barking and other animal noise

When it comes to noise, a barking dog can be the most frustrating sound to be living next door to.  What can you do about barking dogs and other noisy animals? Please visit our page on animal nuisance for further information on this matter.