Noise can be defined as unwanted sound. It is a source of irritation and stress for many people and can even damage our hearing if it is loud enough. Many of us are exposed to stressful levels of noise at home and at work. Noise problems can be dealt with in various ways depending on what the source and nature of the noise is. 

Dealing with nosiy neighbours

Noisy neighbours can disturb your enjoyment of your home and inconsiderate behaviour can even be detrimental to health. If you are concerned about the noise coming from a neighbour's home, a local business or manufacturer, or noise from stationary vehicles or equipment in the street, often the best way to deal with the problem is to go to the source.

Consider contacting the person or company responsible for the noise and point out the problem. You may find they are unaware that they are disturbing you. Remember, we may all be guilty of making noise at some time without knowing it. The problem is not always one of inconsiderate behaviour; even homes that have reasonably good sound insulation may not cope with noise from powerful, modern equipment.

If you are concerned about contacting them in person, then you can use our complaint to a noisy neighbour letter. You can use this letter to complain to a neighbour about excessive noise. You should keep a copy of this letter when you send it along with any other correspondence between you and your neighbour. You should also begin keeping a record of the noise if you have not already done so.

Mediation with your neighbour

If the direct approach does not succeed, you may want to consider mediation.

An independent third party will listen to the views of both parties and can help you to reach an agreement or compromise.

Escalating your noise complaint

When informal action is not possible or fails, you can resolve the problem by taking formal action. The most common route involves complaining to your local authority about the noise problem. Local authorities have a duty to investigate complaints from premises (land and buildings) and vehicles, machinery or equipment in the street. Local authorities have a duty to deal with any noise which they consider to be a statutory nuisance under the following legislation:

In England and Wales under sections 80 and 81 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended by the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993)

If previous attempts to resolve a problem with a noisy neighbour have failed, use our complaint to local authority officer about noisy neighbours document to send a letter to the local authority responsible for noise complaints. You should have already sent at least one letter to the neighbour and kept a copy of that letter as mentioned early. 

Noise between 11pm and 7am

A local authority in England and Wales has separate powers under the Noise Act 1996 to give warnings over excessive noise between 11pm and 7am from dwelling houses or licensed premises if they have received a complaint by a person residing in the area affected by the noise. A person who does not comply with a warning is guilty of an offence punishable by a fine of up to £1,000. Alternatively, an officer of the authority can issue a fixed penalty notice of up to £100 to the occupant of a private dwelling and £500 to the occupants of licensed premises. The officer can also (or instead) enter the premises and seize noise-making equipment, such as televisions, stereos, etc.

Commercial noise

Noise pollution from trade, industrial and business premises (for example, noisy machinery, pubs and clubs) is dealt with similarly to that from domestic premises, except where those premises have to comply with special provisions relevant to the business that is being carried out on those premises. For example, the council may not need to prove a statutory nuisance where the premises hold a public entertainment licence. Action can be taken against premises that operate outside of their licensing agreement.

Barking dogs

Dogs bark naturally - however, constant barking, whining or howling can be disturbing and annoying for neighbours. You can make a complaint to your local council about a dog that is disturbing you, or causing a nuisance because of its barking. Usually the environmental health department will handle your complaint. Contact your local council for details.

For more information about dealing with noise and pollution can be found in our free legal guides.