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Your Rights Under the Noise Act 1996

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 16 Jan 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Noise Act 1996 Neighbour Advice Noisy

Under the provisions of the Noise Act 1996 and other associated legislation, your local authority has a mandatory obligation to deal with any noise which is deemed to be a ‘nuisance’. It’s not simply at night where the act might come into force, nor is it restricted to common complaints like music and loud parties – general traffic noise, DIY/construction projects and use of other kind of machinery is also incorporated into the legislation.

Measuring The Noise and Permitted Levels

The Permitted Level Of Noise can vary depending on different circumstances and ignorance is not an acceptable excuse. If, for some reason, a person knows that an activity is going to result in excessive noise, it is their responsibility to check with their local authority what level is permitted and what is considered excessive. Local authorities have approved noise measuring devices to determine whether or not a particular ‘noise complaint’ is breaching the law.

Abatement Notices

If the local authority deems that the noise represents a Statutory Nuisance and/or that it’s likely to reoccur, they can issue an abatement notice which will stipulate that the noise stops altogether, is reduced to an acceptable level, or is only permitted between certain times of the day.

However, an abatement notice is not normally served immediately. Usually if you Contact An Environmental Health Officer, they will visit the ‘offender’ first to see if the problem can be resolved without having to take matters further. If the issue hasn’t been resolved within a week, then an abatement notice must be served.

If The Abatement Notice is Not Complied With

Once an abatement notice is issued, if it not complied with, then the offender will have committed an offence. There can be fixed penalty notices and both the courts and the police will now get involved. Fines of up to £5,000 can be imposed on individuals and up to £20,000 if it’s a business within or close to a residential neighbourhood which is involved.

In certain situations where the noise maker might end up being violent or aggressive, the police, in conjunction with the local authority, have the power to Issue An Anti-Social Behaviour Order and if the noise maker fails to comply with that, it might even end up with them even being sent to prison.

Seizing of Equipment

Once an abatement notice has been served, if it is not complied with, an officer from the environmental health department or someone acting upon their behalf, such as a police officer, has the power to gain entry to the residence and to seize the equipment responsible for the problem under warrant provisions. This can be done by force if necessary and can result in a further fine if the person involved wilfully tries to obstruct the removal of the equipment.

The equipment can be seized for up to 28 days, and it is up to the courts to decide what will be done with the equipment in the long term. If no court proceedings have begun within 28 days, the equipment must be returned to its rightful owner. However, if the court decides to convict a person in relation to the said equipment, then a forfeiture order can be made by the court which deprives the offender of any further rights to the equipment.

What to Read Next...

Your Rights Under Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act.

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My neighbours on the adjoining house have had workmen in doing huge alterations to their house. It has been going on for six months now. The noise has been unbearable even on Saturday afternoons and Sundays! At one point there were five workmen working on separate rooms drilling and banging so I couldn'tget away from the noise! As I am writing this a huge router has been drilling loudly next to the adjoining wall and it is 6.50pm. I can't even hear the TV! I was put on hold when ringing noise pollution council phone number. It is driving me crazy. I've been next door to complain twice now and they were very unpleasant. What can I do? It
Long suffering - 16-Jan-17 @ 6:51 PM
Please give me advice on what to do, I'm literally going crazy! I do 12-14 hour shifts, finish at around 3-4am, then, the builders over the road start drilling at 6am! Over the past week I've probably had about 6 hours sleep - I've tried everything from putting a loud electric fan next to my bed to muffle the noises which doesn't work because they're so loud, to trying to sleep on the kitchen floor with a blanket because it's the room the furthest from the noise, but I can still hear it! My next option is gonna be sleeping tablets but I'm scared that if I take them I'll miss my alarm and be late for work.
Ryan - 12-Jan-17 @ 9:13 AM
karen - Your Question:
Hi,Just a bit of advice please, my neighboughs over Christmas suddenly started playing music and it was coming through my walls quite loudly like the whole one side of my house, I messaged them on facebook and asked if they could turn it down, they said sorry yes and did slightly but I could still hear it, then the next day it came on again I spoke to my daughter who was off uni for xmas and she said it had been happening on a morning for the past week and had woke her up, I went next door and spoke to the man of the house I said do you have your music on now again as it is coming through the walls really loudly again he said yes sorry I will turn it down I said do you have surround sound or anything like that as it really does echo through the whole side of my house he said no I just have one big large speaker so I thought well that must be it, anyway I didn't hear it again until new years eve whicj I thought was fair enough it was party night however last Saturday I heard it again around 5pm tea time it is annoying as I can hear it over the sound of my tv boom boom in the background, I Messaged them around 10pm as I was going to bed to turn it down , they never replied but it went off around half 11, I was just wondering if I could do something about it as it is distressing to me and I have told them this but it looks as though it is going to continue whenever they feel like it.

Our Response:
If the noise continues on a regular basis, it's excessive and it occurs after 11pm, your environmental health officer should be able investigate and if necessary, take action.
ProblemNeighbours - 10-Jan-17 @ 12:30 PM
Hi, Just a bit of advice please, my neighboughs over Christmas suddenly started playing music and it was coming through my walls quite loudly like the whole one side of my house, I messaged them on facebook and asked if they could turn it down, they said sorry yes and did slightly but I could still hear it, then the next day it came on again I spoke to my daughter who was off uni for xmas and she said it had been happening on a morning for the past week and had woke her up, I went next door and spoke to the man of the house I said do you have your music on now again as it is coming through the walls really loudly again he said yes sorry I will turn it down I said do you have surround sound or anything like that as it really does echo through the whole side of my house he said no I just have one big large speaker so I thought well that must be it, anyway I didn't hear it again until new years eve whicj I thought was fair enough it was party night however last Saturday I heard it again around 5pm tea time it is annoying as I can hear it over the sound of my tv boom boom in the background, I Messaged them around 10pm as I was going to bed to turn it down , they never replied but it went off around half 11, I was just wondering if I could do something about it as it is distressing to me and I have told them this but it looks as though it is going to continue whenever they feel like it.
karen - 9-Jan-17 @ 2:03 PM
my neibour is playing loud music and its 1 in morning what can i do
gavybaby - 8-Jan-17 @ 12:59 AM
Can you please advise me.Ime house owner next door is landlord renting house (actually is council renting 4 bed house for the one person but actualy leaving 4 peopl)for the day she moved we don't have quiet life.she shout.talk on phone very loud till 1am.I know now all her live.. plus dog barking.we go talk to her she call police and said that we disturb her privacy. So now 4 moth we complain every were but noresults as council and environmental said the will come to talk to as.Sone as we both working full time my husband take day off no one come ,no one call.plz plz advise what to do as I can't sleep properly I need to awaik everyday at 5 am I get sleep just 4 or 5 h.thanks
Vi - 6-Jan-17 @ 10:56 PM
Mona - Your Question:
I have been at my new apartment for a year now and ever since I moved in my neighbors upstairs have been drilling every day of the week all day long and there I's also a lot of banging and furniture moving after 9pm at night it's making me feel like killing myself just to get a little peace. What should I do

Our Response:
It's worth popping round and politely mentioning it to them first. The drop them a note followed by a formal letter - see our templates here for assistance. If that is not successful, you could call your environmental health officer.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jan-17 @ 10:41 AM
I have been at my new apartment for a year now and ever since I moved in my neighbors upstairs have been drilling every day of the week all day long and there I's also a lot of banging and furniture moving after 9pm at night it's making me feel like killing myself just to get a little peace.What should I do
Mona - 5-Jan-17 @ 8:43 AM
mar570 - Your Question:
Can somebody give some advice. I have a neighbor that lets his children run upstairs until after 1 am in the morning. We have been down the route with the council which ended up with him accusing me of making up complaints against him because he's Pakistani and despite me giving the council video and audio recordings of the noise. He said that his children were under 11 and he cannot control them. It went quiet for about a year and now his children are back to playing and running all day and up to 1 am, now they are all over 11 years old. They yell abuse at me through the walls and kick the partition wall on my bedroom at all hours when they think I am asleep. Been round to ask him to stop his children playing but they run even more after I asked them. I am wondering if I could seek legal advice to either get the council to do something or can I take legal action against him?

Our Response:
Report it again to your environmental health officer, they have a duty to investigate especially if the noise occurs after 11pm. If they cannot find any proof to take further action, you could try legal action.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Jan-17 @ 11:59 AM
Can somebody give some advice. I have a neighbor that lets his children run upstairs until after 1 am in the morning. We have been down the route with the council which ended up with him accusing me of making up complaints against him because he's Pakistani and despite me giving the council video and audio recordings of the noise. He said that his children were under 11 and he cannot control them. It went quiet for about a year and now his children are back to playing and running all day and up to 1 am, now they are all over 11 years old. They yell abuse at me through the walls and kick the partition wall on my bedroom at all hours when they think I am asleep. Been round to ask him to stop his children playing but they run even more after I asked them. I am wondering if I could seek legal advice to either get the council to do something or can I take legal action against him?
mar570 - 3-Jan-17 @ 11:55 AM
Do anyone actually take notice of these complaints I have thirteen people living next door to me the noise and banging is constant I've reporting this so many times its driving me crazy nothing is ever done somebody has got to help
Help - 2-Jan-17 @ 3:12 PM
My neighbors above me was second time making noise make me crazy . Open loud music whole night at the first time , walking up and down with lots of noise and talking screaming like nobody . I talk to them at the first time, when the door open I see like lots of younger inside the flat , they said will lower down the volume . I said now is 4 am you supposed to off the music not lowering down . Second time was yesterday with music not loud then last time , but we still can hear at 3 am morning and I can hear they have sex . The girl screaming and you can the sexual activity was on going . What the hell is this people doing . I failing complaint to council second time . There never replies me at all .
Anonymous - 2-Jan-17 @ 8:59 AM
ok i know it new years eve ive enjoyed myself with my family tonight. the problem i have is a neighbor thats is playing music from there culture its been going on since 1pm and it is still going on now at 4pm. id love to go and knock on the door but i live on a street where a lot of them live and it could make life hell so please is there anything i can do about it. i know the house is rented out and there are different people in alot. but it moves from one toom to and other and it is very loud.
johnny7944 - 1-Jan-17 @ 4:08 AM
I know it is New Years eve and it is the time to celebrate but having a stereo in the back garden at 2315hrs on full blast is a bit over the top. This is not the first time this has happened can any one make a suggestion as to what i can do. Approaching the neighbours is not an option.
Carlos - 31-Dec-16 @ 11:25 PM
I have a new neighbour. He has contacted me living a note in my letterbox reproaching me to listen to the same piece of music too often. I do not listen to music often and always day time. The flats we live in are let by an agency and he twice contacted them to complain. I am upset he dares to complain.I do hear him taking showers late at night. I told him.to contact me first. But he did not today. It is embarrassing and very unpleasant not to have a chance now and then to listen to classical music or a little bit of other styles without having a neighbour complaints. What shall I do? I a very upset about I all.
nanoo - 30-Dec-16 @ 1:22 AM
Hi there i live in a property and a garage workshop business has an extractor fan motor mounted to their roof which is at the end of my garden. The noise is approx 65db at 775hz as a constant drone in operation from 9am to 7-9pm daily. You can also hear the hum even indoors when the windows and doors are closed. It is a nuisance to me and i was wondering what noise limits there are on commercial businesses to emit this much noise in a residential area. I don't want to contact the council at this stage until i know what likelihood there is they will ask the business to replace the fan for something less noisey. i.e. if there are permitted noise limits in effect. I've already spoken to the owner of the garage who wasn't interested in taking any action even when i offered to pay a contribution to any costs. He simply stated he has a license to run the business 24hrs and he'll do as he pleases. Charming! Any help hugely appreciated. Thanks!
Peace&Quiet - 29-Dec-16 @ 5:55 PM
Can you advise please. I live in a converted property on Christmas Eve at 12.10 I had the handrail put back on the wall as it became loose. The guy who did it for me was coming back into the property when he was approached very rudely from the owner of his flat below. He demanded he stopped drilling which he was not doing he was putting the screws back into the wall where the original holes are. Ihave lived in my flat for over 28years and it has been very difficult for me. The man below always approaches anyone who comes to do works in my home he has also tried to stop council workers from carrying out their work which he did not succeed in doing. His approach is very much bullish towards myself and others. He makes noise but i dont complain I am so depressed I am not having Christmas. I really am hurt at the way he speaks to people who come to me I am elderly and I don't need this.
BM - 25-Dec-16 @ 11:34 AM
toogoo- Your Question:
On a Saturday night my parents have my two young children so me and my partner like to have a quiet drink in the house and listen to some music. We never play the music passed 11pm as we are normally in bed by this time. Last night our neighbours come knocking on the door screaming at us to turn the music off. It was before 11pm Which to my knowledge is okay.?? This really upset me as every night we have to listen to these neighbours arguing and fighting really loud with one another. Can anyone tell me my rights on music loudness before 11pm please.??

Our Response:
11pm is generally the time at which environmental health services will investigate. If you live in an attached property, it's general deemed inconsiderate to be playing music loud enough that it's interefering with their enjoyment of their property even if it's before 11pm.
ProblemNeighbours - 13-Dec-16 @ 10:08 AM
On a Saturday night my parents have my two young children so me and my partner like to have a quiet drink in the house and listen to some music. We never play the music passed 11pm as we are normally in bed by this time. Last night our neighbours come knocking on the door screaming at us to turn the music off. It was before 11pm Which to my knowledge is okay.?? This really upset me as every night we have to listen to these neighbours arguing and fighting really loud with one another. Can anyone tell me my rights on music loudness before 11pm please.??
toogoo - 11-Dec-16 @ 8:58 AM
me - Your Question:
Hi- can someone please give me advice? I feel that im loosing my mind. My neighbour on top of me is having music on the loudest volume right now at 00:32 and it started about 1 hour ago. I rang on the bell to tell them to please turn it down or switch it off cause it is very disturbing. they answered me that I should be considerate because they are having fun and they will try to lower the music (which sounds like they have done so but it is still loud and I am scared my kids will wake up). I tried calling the council but obviously no one is picking up. this noise has happened a few weeks ago on Saturday night and I am scared that it will happen again in the near future. can someone please tell me what I can do? moving is not an option for me right now. I have got a noise machine but it dosnt help.

Our Response:
If this becomes a regular occurrence you should report it to your environmental health officer as described in the article above.
ProblemNeighbours - 7-Dec-16 @ 2:41 PM
James - Your Question:
I have lived in my semi for 8 years. In that time my neighbours have never had a holiday. There is constant DIY - god knows what sort of DIY takes 8 years? I half expect to one day see the outside walls fall away and see a new house underneath! No jobs are ever finished - I'm still waiting for him to do his fence - I get promises every year that this is the year it will get done! Been sworn at before for mentioning this - I get sworn at for a living so not upsetting, it's more the cheek of it. I just want that fence up because they are often in their garden and I don't like to be out there on display. I have a dog too and have had to block off a boundary with pallets and other assorted rubbish. Sometimes the DIY noises are replaced by very loud sweary arguments - I don't have kids, but if I did I would put a stop to this. Just when you thought this neighbour couldn't be more annoying, I've had them bang on the wall if I make a lot of noise! Is it unfair to wish them dead? Joking btw!! Wish they'd move out tho, or that I had the money to move myself.

Our Response:
We do feel for you James, the idea ofthe walls falling away to reveal another house did make us chuckle. If this work has been going on for so long it might be worth mentioning it and the language to your environmental health department. The fence is a separate issue...it might be worth just accepting that they're not going to do anything and constructing your own fence on your side of the boundary.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Dec-16 @ 1:06 PM
Hi- can someone please give me advice? I feel that im loosing my mind. My neighbour on top of me is having music on the loudest volume right now at 00:32 and it started about 1 hour ago. I rang on the bell to tell them to please turn it down or switch it off cause it is very disturbing. they answered me that i should be considerate because they are having fun and they will try to lower the music (which sounds like they have done so but it is still loud and i am scared my kids will wake up). I tried calling the council but obviously no one is picking up. this noise has happened a few weeks ago on Saturday night and i am scared that it will happen again in the near future. can someone please tell me what i can do? moving is not an option for me right now. I have got a noise machine but it dosnt help.
me - 4-Dec-16 @ 12:39 AM
I have lived in my semi for 8 years. In that time my neighbours have never had a holiday. There is constant DIY - god knows what sort of DIY takes 8 years? I half expect to one day see the outside walls fall away and see a new house underneath! No jobs are ever finished - I'm still waiting for him to do his fence - I get promises every year that this is the year it will get done! Been sworn at before for mentioning this - I get sworn at for a living so not upsetting, it's more the cheek of it. I just want that fence up because they are often in their garden and I don't like to be out there on display. I have a dog too and have had to block off a boundary with pallets and other assorted rubbish. Sometimes the DIY noises are replaced by very loud sweary arguments - I don't have kids, but if I did I would put a stop to this. Just when you thought this neighbour couldn't be more annoying, I've had them bang on the wall if I make a lot of noise! Is it unfair to wish them dead? Joking btw!! Wish they'd move out tho, or that I had the money to move myself.
James - 3-Dec-16 @ 10:53 AM
Hi, I have an 18 month old child who regularly plays/ bangs/ has tantrums etc all the usual for her age. A few months ago next door knocked and told us to keep the noise down which I have tried to do, also been going out a lot to my mums to avoid any noise being made in my house. A few mornings ago my daughter was up at 6:30 so brought her into my room and she was playing about. She then opened and shut a drawer which made a bang. Next door blaintely slammed her wardrobe a few times very loudly. Obviously it shocked me and now I'm worried she will take it further. Am I in the wrong for my child making abit of noise ? I'm up at 7 most days & well in bed by 10pm. So I don't really see a problem but would like to be assured I'm working for nothing. Thanks x
Kearnsy - 26-Nov-16 @ 9:40 AM
Mrs B - Your Question:
Hi,My neighbours have set up a laundry business from their home. They frequently have an outdoor washing machine and dryer running, and they regularly jet wash. They do this nearly every day including in to weekends and evenings. Can you offer any advice on the steps to take to resolve the issue. I've already spoken to them but they continue.ThanksG.B.

Our Response:
Is it noisy? Causing a disturbance? Or are you just upset they are running a business next door to you? If the former, do they operate the machines late at night etc? If so, then contact your environmental health services and report it as a noise/nuisance complaint. If you feel they shouldn't be running this business from a residential property, contact your council's planning department.
ProblemNeighbours - 24-Nov-16 @ 11:31 AM
Hi, My neighbours have set up a laundry business from their home. They frequently have an outdoor washing machine and dryer running, and they regularly jet wash. They do this nearly every day including in to weekends and evenings. Can you offer any advice on the steps to take to resolve the issue. I've already spoken to them but they continue. Thanks G.B.
Mrs B - 23-Nov-16 @ 3:26 PM
Em - Your Question:
I've had builders next door for a month and I'm not expecting the house to be done anytime soon. I have a 2yr old, 12yr and a very ill 16yr old which are constantly being woken by the noise that's happening 7 days a week. sometimes till gone 12 at night. They have knocked down our front fence and caused damage to our garden by using a crane to lift building waste (windows, blocks,bricks etc) which when in motion dropped glass,upvc,bricks etc from a great height straight into our garden. I've approached the builders explaining I have children and it's not fair.to which I was told several times to inform the house owner who is nowhere to be seen. I've asked the builders to send the home owner round to me when he arrives on site several times which as been ignored. I've contacted the council and environmental health and been fobbed off. I completely understand that building work causes a large amount of noise but I'm just asking for a bit of consideration. No one can park on the street due to work vans and rubble sacks outside. Surely there is something we can do?

Our Response:
You might want to seek legal advice with regards to claiming compensation for the damage and inconvenience. Your home insurer might also be able to advise you. There's not a lot you can do to speed up the building work but rubble sacks and vans in the road could be dealt with by the council highways department perhaps?
ProblemNeighbours - 22-Nov-16 @ 11:59 AM
I've had builders next door for a month and I'm not expecting the house to be done anytime soon. I have a 2yr old, 12yr and a very ill 16yr old which are constantly being woken by the noise that's happening 7 days a week.... sometimes till gone 12 at night. They have knocked down our front fence and caused damage to our garden by using a crane to lift building waste (windows, blocks,bricks etc) which when in motion dropped glass,upvc,bricks etc from a great height straight into our garden. I've approached the builders explaining I have children and it's not fair...to which I was told several times to inform the house owner who is nowhere to be seen. I've asked the builders to send the home owner round to me when he arrives on site several times which as been ignored. I've contacted the council and environmental health and been fobbed off. I completely understand that building work causes a large amount of noise but I'm just asking for a bit of consideration. No one can park on the street due to work vans and rubble sacks outside. Surely there is something we can do?
Em - 21-Nov-16 @ 6:34 PM
I have a case of double standards going on with my neighbours Who are regimental Sunday evening to Friday morning having their household on shut down from 8.15pm (where they expect our family to also follow) My family do not live the same life style as they do and we can be up late and quite noisey I will admit (My 17 and 14 year old are autistic so don't see rules boundaries like others do) they have meltdowns which are out of their control and can be at any time day or night resulting in lots of noise , I have lived next to them 7 years and all was well untill recently when the mother of the house hold has an issue with my 14 year old and her autistic behaviour , this family act whiter than white but are far from it !!! Screaming and shouting at my 14 year old verbal abusive threatening langauge been used along with vile threats towards here and did I fail to mention when they party it lasts a weekend , out into the garden from Friday till early hours of Sunday morning , police have done little and housing officers haven't said much of their behaviour. Last night my 17 year old autistic who is also hard of hearing (progressive deafness) wearer of hearing aids played music before 9pm and we had a visit from police then today a card about noise was put through my door from housing officer! I am on edge walking on egg shells and feel it's making me ill living next to them , I would move but why should I move iv been here 10 years this is my home I won't leave here for anyone! Driving me insane that I feel I'm living my life by other people's standards,especially when they have double standards !!! If I'm honest I want to go through and take matters into my own hands but know it's not the answer .... time will tell I guess as I'm being pushed to the point of loosing my rag! Any one any suggestions?
Libby - 19-Nov-16 @ 12:03 AM
jallen- Your Question:
Hi,Just moved into my flat in September and since we've moved in, either the flat above or beside us makes loads of noise.Bangs and thumps throughout the day then when it comes to 1am at night they decide to have their tv up full blast which causes me to wake up and stay awake until they turn it off.Frequent loud music is played as well.I have to live here for a while and can't really stick this and it's only been like 2 months :(

Our Response:
Since you're not sure which flat it is, you could pop round to both of them asking if they know where the noise is coming from.They may realise they are the problem and start being more considerate. If that doesn't work try dropping them a note followed by a formal letter (use our letter templates here). Your final course of action is complain to the environmental health services at your local council.
ProblemNeighbours - 15-Nov-16 @ 10:17 AM
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