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Your Rights Under the Noise Act 1996

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 21 Jun 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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I own my house. Next door is a rental house. The landlord only rents to East European people. We have a constant string of anti-social people living there for about 7 years. Loud music day and night, hammering and banging, we have been physically assaulted by one lot who were living there. I have spoken to the landlord countless times and to be fair, he sorts it out, but then puts another problem family in it. The house and garden is a tip, scruffy curtains nailed up at the windows. Last night, next doors were hammering at gone 10pm. I get up for work at 5.15am, so I banged on the wall and the man came knocking to ask what was the problem! He used the old "You are racist" chestnut, which I'm not. I don't care where they're from, I just would like quiet and consideration. Last Saturday, they had extremely loud music in the garden, so we couldn't sit in ours. He just said we should go in and close the windows. It was 30 degrees. Why should we, and why should we listen to their crap music blaring out.
Tog - 21-Jun-17 @ 9:39 AM
Hi I live in an apartment building and the walls are very thin, the kitchen/diner being attached to someone's bedroom . Our neighbours are constantly complaining that there should not be any noise until 8:30am ! My toddler which is the issue wakes up by 6:30 as most kids and I have to bring him to have breakfast by 7 or 7:30 to get ready for nursery . Can you advise me of my rights as she has started to be rude and comparing my child to a dog !
Lisa - 17-Jun-17 @ 5:10 PM
Sylvie - Your Question:
I had issues with noisy neighbours. I called the police who were out within 10 minutes. I made a note of each police call out with the police reference. I then launched an official complaint with the council who took it on very seriously. The music and get togethers have now stopped. No one should have to put up with the excessive noise of their neighbours.

Our Response:
Glad the whole process has worked effectively for you.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jun-17 @ 2:05 PM
Dave - Your Question:
Hi, my neighbour has had a massive extension to there house last year which took 6 months of noise and disturbance. Every weekend when I get time off work and want to relax and my girlfriend wants to sleep after a night shift, he has jobs done in and around the house. Its rediculous the noise they create with power tools. Nothing happens through the week but every weekend they do something, its making me angry towards them and I dont enjoy living here sometimes. Which is a shame as its a lovely area appart from the newsance neighbour

Our Response:
Have a polite word with the neighbour. Ask how long it's likely to go on for and if they can restrict the work to say a specific a three hour period on each weekend day every now and then. That way you will be able to plan your weekends around the noise at least. They can't be doing DIY forever, so once you've established an end point, things might become easier for you. If they noise starts up before 7 or 8 in the morning or after 10pm you can complain to environmental health about the noise nuisance.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Jun-17 @ 10:50 AM
I had issues with noisy neighbours. I called the police who were out within 10 minutes. I made a note of each police call out with the police reference. I then launched an official complaint with the council who took it on very seriously. The music and get togethers have now stopped. No one should have to put up with the excessive noise of their neighbours.
Sylvie - 4-Jun-17 @ 9:21 AM
Hi, my neighbour has had a massive extension to there house last year which took 6 months of noise and disturbance. Every weekend when i get time off work and want to relax and my girlfriend wants to sleep after a night shift, he has jobs done in and around the house. Its rediculous the noise they create with power tools. Nothing happens through the week but every weekend they do something, its making me angry towards them and i dont enjoy living here sometimes. Which is a shame as its a lovely area appart from the newsance neighbour
Dave - 3-Jun-17 @ 10:11 AM
My mums neighbour leaves her 16 year old son home alone all weekend and during school holidays. Every time he is left he invites all his friends round to drink, smoke and party in their hot tub (they have loud music and shout and scream constantly, using foul language). This weekend he saw my mum looking out her window at them (as they were being so loud and obnoxious) and he called her a f@#king c@#t, he hopes she gets run over and dies and then said to his friend he was going to throw sh#t up her house. These "gatherings" have been going on for over a year, most weekends and school holidays. She's at breaking point. If she complains she is worried about his reaction and the consequences of it. She's spoken to his mum many times, she's been to CAB. What will the council or police do if she contacts them?
Sarah Yeo - 29-May-17 @ 10:38 PM
Windy. - Your Question:
What time legally do you have to finish diy like banging and drilling.

Our Response:
The usual time period for excessive noise to be "actionable" is between 10pm and 7am
ProblemNeighbours - 19-May-17 @ 2:30 PM
What time legally do you have to finish diy like banging and drilling.
Windy. - 18-May-17 @ 6:19 PM
new upstairs neighbours that every day play their music. I can hear it as their lounge is above mine. it's beyond a joke now. last neighbours were just as bad. I've reported it to my landlords who don't seem to care.
fedupwithconstantmus - 13-May-17 @ 5:57 PM
Karzee - Your Question:
My neighbours build things after midnight? They have children?! That go to school?! Consistent dull hammering that you can hear through the whole building. They live across from me! I can hear it like they are above me. I am a light sleeper and after 12pm is completely not acceptable. If the noise dept came to my house it wouldnt be loud enough for them to hear. What would they be able to do?

Our Response:
Sorry, you say if the "noise department" came to your house it wouldn't be loud enough to hear, so how is it disturbing your? Also noise after 12pm until 11pm would not usually be considered a disturbance in the same way as noise from 11pm to 7am
ProblemNeighbours - 9-May-17 @ 12:56 PM
Lou- Your Question:
My neighbour had party 7th may started at 3pm to 11pm shouting drinking and speakers outside back garden this neighbour is having special treatment because she and her girlfriend work in the week and the dogs go mad Barking early hours in the morning late at night housing associations don't do nothing I have 2 year daughter and partner we and all other tenants got the right to peace and quiet

Our Response:
Try environmental health about the barking dogs. It's unlikely anything can be done about a one-off party that finished at 11pm.
ProblemNeighbours - 9-May-17 @ 12:16 PM
My neighbours build things after midnight? They have children?! That go to school?! Consistent dull hammering that you can hear through the whole building. They live across from me! I can hear it like they are above me. I am a light sleeper and after 12pm is completely not acceptable. If the noise dept came to my house it wouldnt be loud enough for them to hear. What would they be able to do?
Karzee - 8-May-17 @ 12:28 AM
My neighbour had party 7th may started at 3pm to 11pm shouting drinking and speakers outside back garden this neighbour is having special treatment because she and her girlfriend work in the week and the dogs go mad Barking early hours in the morning late at night housing associations don't do nothing I have 2 year daughter and partner we and all other tenants got the right to peace and quiet
Lou - 7-May-17 @ 10:15 PM
Rebecca - Your Question:
Hello, I need some advice, I have recently moved into my first home with my boyfriend. We bought the property and after 5 days of being their my neighbors started being really loud (they privately rent, do not work). They scream at each other for hours on end, bang and slam doors, smash things against the wall, threaten each other and are very aggressive. This can occur any time night or day. They often keep us awake all night and it is really upsetting, I have stayed at my mums on a number of occasions. I have spoken to the neighbor on the other side and she has informed me that the woman may have mental health issues, however I am unsure because as soon as I knock on their door it falls silent and they wont answer but then as soon as myself or my boyfriend are back inside the house they will continue. I am unsure weather I should be calling the police. I dont know what action to take at all. I am aware that I could contact environmental health but I know that they are often ineffective and the process takes a very long time. I have looked and paid for the Land Registry details but they are out of date. Could anyone please advise us on which steps to take first? It is ruining our experience and either of can stand being at home.

Our Response:
The police will not be able to do anything unless you actually witness violence/aggression. You should complain to Environmental Health about the anti social behaviour and the noise. You say they are ineffective but that's just from anecodotal evidence we imagine; most local authority EHOs are extremely efficient at fulfilling their statutory duties. If you don't want to do that, you could consider taking a private legal action against your neighbour.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-May-17 @ 10:45 AM
Hello, I need some advice, I have recently moved into my first home with my boyfriend. We bought the property and after 5 days of being their my neighbors started being really loud (they privately rent, do not work). They scream at each other for hours on end, bang and slam doors, smash things against the wall, threaten each other and are very aggressive. This can occur any time night or day. They often keep us awake all night and it is really upsetting, I have stayed at my mums on a number of occasions. I have spoken to the neighbor on the other side and she has informed me that the woman may have mental health issues, however I am unsure because as soon as I knock on their door it falls silent and they wont answer but then as soon as myself or my boyfriend are back inside the house they will continue. I am unsure weather I should be calling the police... I dont know what action to take at all. I am aware that i could contact environmental health but i know that they are often ineffective and the process takes a very long time. I have looked and paid for the Land Registry details but they are out of date. Could anyone please advise us on which steps to take first? It is ruining our experience and either of can stand being at home.
Rebecca - 4-May-17 @ 1:03 PM
Rachel - Your Question:
Hi, we've been in our house for a year now and we have 2 small children. My next door neighbour has 2 boys, one a teenager and the other about 10. As soon as the weather changes and gets slightly warm the younger one and his mates are out very late, screaming and shouting, dropping litter everywhere and generally being a nuisance. None of the other neighbours seem to mind, or haven't said anything. But it's disturbing my kids sleep, and my sanity. These kids never go to any other house except my neighbours. And the problem is that half the time their mother is out because she works, so I'm not even sure if she's aware of it. We're kind of like the new kids on the block so don't want to rock to boat, but what can we do? My husband is going to speak to the family but failing that where do we stand? I don't want to stop the kids fun, but it would be nice if it wasn't every night right outside my house! Many thanks

Our Response:
Speaking to the neighbours is the thing most likely to achieve results in this case, as there don't seem to be any specific laws broken (apart from the litter).If the noise continues after 11pm, environmental health will be able to do something. If the behaviour is extreme, there's a possibility that antisocial behaviour legislation could be used - you'd need to speak with your council or PCSO about this.
ProblemNeighbours - 12-Apr-17 @ 12:24 PM
Anonymous - Your Question:
I tread the dry weather coming due to the neighbours children screaming , shouting etc in the the Garden directly next to ours from early morning to the evening , the parents are fully aware of the noise but don't really understand how much it effects us in our own garden. I now wear ear plugs to cut down the noise.Their property is private ours is rented with 6ft fence between both gardens. What can we do?

Our Response:
There's not mcuh you can do about this kind of noise. It's natural for families to be outside in the fine weather. You could play music through your headphones, that might help cut out a bit more noise. Or move house?
ProblemNeighbours - 11-Apr-17 @ 12:26 PM
Hi, we've been in our house for a year now and we have 2 small children. My next door neighbour has 2 boys, one a teenager and the other about 10. As soon as the weather changes and gets slightly warm the younger one and his mates are out very late, screaming and shouting, dropping litter everywhere and generally being a nuisance. None of the other neighbours seem to mind, or haven't said anything. But it's disturbing my kids sleep, and my sanity. These kids never go to any other house except my neighbours. And the problem is that half the time their mother is out because she works, so I'm not even sure if she's aware of it. We're kind of like the new kids on the block so don't want to rock to boat, but what can we do? My husband is going to speak to the family but failing that where do we stand? I don't want to stop the kids fun, but it would be nice if it wasn't every night right outside my house! Many thanks
Rachel - 10-Apr-17 @ 9:24 PM
I tread the dry weather coming due to the neighbours children screaming , shouting etc in the the Garden directly next to ours from early morning to the evening , the parents are fully aware of the noise but don't really understand how much it effects us in our own garden . I now wear ear plugs to cut down the noise .Their property is private ours is rented with 6ft fence between both gardens. What can we do?
Anonymous - 9-Apr-17 @ 9:53 PM
Charlotte bradbury- Your Question:
I have moved into my house a year ago and loved it from the beginning. But then my neighbour started drilling doing works at around 7 in the morning to 2am in the morning. I live alone with my son and im currently pregnant with my second my kids father doesnt live with us but has come to stay hes complained 5 times but the man just makes exscuses. Today I went and complained because he was banging on my wall at nearly 3am in the morning I said can you stop banging first he said its not me and then he said im banging on the celing because of up stairs it then went on to us getting heated discusstion because I said they were not my probley mine is the fact that on a sunday your drilling and banging in the walls late at night he slammed the door in my face. I have no clue what to do and to be quite honest im scared of him hes s big man with tattoos all down his face and body and seems aggressive as iv heard a few times. Iv put my home up for swap but not been successful. Is there any advise I could have ? Thank you charlotte

Our Response:
First talk to your landlord, they may be able to have a word with the neighbour on your behalf. If the neighbour is not an owner but renting, his own landlord may be able to take action because of a breach of tenancy agreeement. Report it to your environmental health department (at your council offices). This department has powers to take action especially with noise made between the hours of 11pm and 7 am.
ProblemNeighbours - 4-Apr-17 @ 10:08 AM
I have moved into my house a year ago and loved it from the beginning. But then my neighbour started drilling doing works at around 7 in the morning to 2am in the morning. I live alone with my son and im currently pregnant with my second my kids father doesnt live with us but has come to stay hes complained 5 times but the man just makes exscuses. Today i went and complained because he was banging on my wall at nearly 3am in the morning i said can you stop banging first he said its not me and then he said im banging on the celing because of up stairs it then went on to us getting heated discusstion because i said they were not my probley mine is the fact that on a sunday your drilling and banging in the walls late at night he slammed the door in my face. I have no clue what to do and to be quite honest im scared of him hes s big man with tattoos all down his face and body and seems aggressive as iv heard a few times. Iv put my home up for swap but not been successful. Is there any advise i could have ? Thank you charlotte
Charlotte bradbury - 3-Apr-17 @ 2:45 AM
Lou- Your Question:
I live in a nice flat housing associations with my partner and little daughter the neighbour above had party housefull of people shouting and music and drinking a lot the kids was back and for in our back garden with rubbish the neighbour is a nuisance she is only doing it because our flat is better than her and girlfriend and every time I come home her dogs bark at me going in my own back garden and when my daughter play on her bike dogs bark at her she only 2 year and they never go for walks and there all day with the neighbour and her girlfriend work when they empty litter tray in bin outside the smelling is bad

Our Response:
Tell your landlord about this in the first instance, but make sure your complaints are factual. If you simply say she's a "nuisance and is only doing it because our flat is better than hers"you will be ignored.
ProblemNeighbours - 28-Mar-17 @ 11:28 AM
Zo - Your Question:
I live on a ground floor 3 bedroom with my children and my partner they my neighbours above are young with a young toddler therself they are constantly playing music throughout the day and that loud every morning around 7am they are the alarm for are household they are racist to my partner they use foul language all the time towards us and certain family members teenagers have mocked my 6 year old son kicked my plants over in the garden and are that intimidating that my young children will not play in the garden and ask us to lock the front door when we are home they have also recently for the second time blocked the drains putting things down there toilet that they shouldn't be doing the first time the blockage man told them not to then they did it again the invoice was sent to are landlady stating it was the flat above that causes the blockage flat above refused to pay so she said me and my partner have to and when we refused she said she was when step away from giving ourselves a notice as she is sick of the complainants and noise she is absolutely useless when we tell her she says she dosent want to get involved I also work and pay rent on this property the above are claiming jobseekees allowance and are an absolute nuisance and because the landlady is friends with the aboves mother she is being vile to us and when we said we couldn't cope with them anymore she was happy to give us a notice and we have black mold when my son has been in and out of hospital since born with a bad chest and a specialist came out and said are son wasn't to be near it the landladys answer told my partner to paint over it and what a surprise as we new it would absolutely covered in fury black mould advice much appreciated desperately please.

Our Response:
If you feel your rented property is unsafe or a health hazard, your local council can help. The environmental health department can carry out an assessment using a standard called teh Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS). The results of this may enable them to take against the landlord to make him/her improve the standards of their property.
ProblemNeighbours - 2-Mar-17 @ 1:53 PM
I live on a ground floor 3 bedroom with my children and my partner they my neighbours above are young with a young toddler therself they are constantly playing music throughout the day and that loud every morning around 7am they are the alarm for are household they are racist to my partner they use foul language all the time towards us and certain family members teenagers have mocked my 6 year old son kicked my plants over in the garden and are that intimidating that my young children will not play in the garden and ask us to lock the front door when we are home they have also recently for the second time blocked the drains putting things down there toilet that they shouldn't be doing the first time the blockage man told them not to then they did it again the invoice was sent to are landlady stating it was the flat above that causes the blockage flat above refused to pay so she said me and my partner have to and when we refused she said she was when step away from giving ourselves a notice as she is sick of the complainants and noise she is absolutely useless when we tell her she says she dosent want to get involved I also work and pay rent on this property the above are claiming jobseekees allowance and are an absolute nuisance and because the landlady is friends with the aboves mother she is being vile to us and when we said we couldn't cope with them anymore she was happy to give us a notice and we have black mold when my son has been in and out of hospital since born with a bad chest and a specialist came out and said are son wasn't to be near it the landladys answer told my partner to paint over it and what a surprise as we new it would absolutely covered in fury black mould advice much appreciated desperately please.
Zo - 1-Mar-17 @ 7:47 AM
Hi. I am after some advice of possible. My partner and i along with our 1 year old son have just moved to a ground floor flat. We have a foregin couple above us.. this is not a problem but what is a problem is that the man of the house has a big multi gym above our bedroom. He seems to be home 90% of the evening with hardly a noise apart from heavy foot steps. This is untill 10pm or later he decided to work out.. tonight he started at 10.50pm and was still going at 11.50pm. This is happening probably 3 to 4 times a week and is starting to grind us down. I presume i am perfectly within my rights to make a formal complaint? Luckily him doing this has not woken my son up yet but with ot being so regular i imagine it won't be long. Any advice would be great fully appreciated.
Mj - 18-Feb-17 @ 11:50 PM
Hi there Was wondering if you could offer some advice. I bought my first flat about 2 years ago. It's the bottom flat of 3 from a pre-victorian house conversion. The tenants, above me, moved into the second flat roughly about 9 months ago. Because the property is old, sound is transmitted quiet easily so we all have to have some respect for each other where noise is concerned and I had no issues with the pervious person above me. Unfortunately the current tenants are excessively noisy in my opinion and sometimes sound like they are running in the place. They tend to slam there feet on the floor and are either dragging or dropping items on the floor. On numerous occasions the ceiling light has shook in my bedroom. I am also renovating my place but usually start after 8:30 and finish before 18:30 and have advised them that if I'm making too much noise to let me know so Ican quieten down, but nothing has ever been said. I work shifts and the noise can be quite disturbing even with wearing ear plugs. I really like my place but I'm at the point of considering selling and moving on. I have spoken with them a number of time to no avail and unable to contact the landlord. Next step is to search the letting agents in this area. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Shane - 18-Feb-17 @ 7:48 PM
Hi. My parents who are both over 80 have lived across the road from a school for over 15 years. In the last three weeks the school has started playing loud rap music at regular intervals which can be heard inside the house during the day.This is disturbing my parents and other neighbours.My parents are not well and need peace and rest.The music can be heard regularly for over 30 minutes at a time.We called the school to ask them to turn the volume down.Their initial response was it had to be played today because of activities, but when advised it had been going on for some time they said it was only in break periods.There was no apology and they refused to turn it down. I have advised my parents to keep a diary of when the noise is played, but would the environmental department review such a case - it is obvious from the phone call that the school do not want to co-operated with the neighbourhood or take into account those living in the local area.Advice on next steps would be very much appreciated. For example are there local contacts through the council (Birmingham area) Thank you
HB - 16-Feb-17 @ 7:59 PM
Charlie - Your Question:
Hello, just moved to a flat, had some friends over listened to some music it was 22:00.At 22:01 heard some really powerfull knocks at the door (think they used their feet) :). so nextdoor neighbour started to talk very rude and aggresive complaining about noise just wanted to specify I have just a 30Watt sound bar it wasn't even 23:00. telling me they have a new born baby. obvious didn't knew that. just a week here, tried to explain I didn t knew that,couldn t talk with her,she was swearing etc.asked her to leave my yard, she sustains that im allowed until 22:00 to listen to music. any advice I would appreciate it. Many thanks

Our Response:
Generally it's courteous to keep music noise levels down if you know your neighbours have young children. In general environmental health will investigage excessive noise that occurs between the hours of 11pm and 7am. It sound as though your neighbour did overeact a little but is potentially under stress having a baby that needs to sleep etc. Perhpas drop a note apologising and say that at weekends you might play music (not too loud) until 11pm and earlier in the week to allow for the baby and for people that might need be in bed early because of work etc.
ProblemNeighbours - 16-Feb-17 @ 1:59 PM
Hello, just moved to a flat, had some friends over listened to some music it was 22:00.At 22:01 heard some really powerfull knocks at the door (think they used their feet) :) ... so nextdoor neighbour started to talk very rude and aggresive complaining about noise just wanted to specify i have just a 30Watt sound barit wasn't even 23:00 ... telling me they have a new born baby ... obvious didn't knew that. just a week here, tried to explain i didn t knew that,couldn t talk with her,she was swearing etc ....asked her to leave my yard, she sustains that im allowed until 22:00 to listen to music ... any advice i would appreciate it. Many thanks
Charlie - 16-Feb-17 @ 3:16 AM
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