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What Constitutes Noise Pollution?

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 13 Apr 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Noise Pollution Advice Noisy Neighbours

Noise levels can be a real problem in any neighbourhood and there are many issues surrounding noise pollution in a residential area that are covered by Government Legislation. These include what you can and cannot do, what steps you could take to minimise the problems caused by potentially excessive noise, and what action could be taken against you if you don’t reduce your noise levels.

In terms of the problems excessive noise can cause, most disagreements and arguments between neighbours can often be avoided if they are forewarned about potential ‘occasional’ situations which are likely to result in excessive noise. However, while excessive noise can be the result of a planned situation, sometimes it’s completely unplanned or somewhat out of your control. Even in these situations, there are still some precautionary measures you can take.

Parties, Loud Music and Excessive Noise

Reasonable neighbours are not usually ‘killjoys’ and most of us will want to have a party celebration at some time or another. The best way of avoiding any problems with your neighbours is to tell them in advance that you are Planning A Party, what time it’s going to start and, more importantly, what time you’re planning to end it (or at least the time by which you’ll ensure that they won’t be disturbed by excessive noise – usually related to loud music but also by rowdy conversations and boisterous behaviour).

In terms of the ending time, it’s not unreasonable to expect your neighbours to agree to a finishing time of the ‘noisy’ element to a party to, say, by 11pm or midnight. That’s not to say you can have the volume at whatever level you want, as there are strict laws surrounding that issue. Ending at midnight also doesn’t mean that the party can’t continue beyond that time, but you’ll need to keep the music and the noise down to a reasonable level so as not to disturb neighbours.

You also need to take even greater care and be more sensitive to your neighbours if you’re planning on holding the party outside in the garden, where noise travels more easily and where its impact is felt even greater. Better still, why not invite the neighbours?

DIY Projects

Once again, you should let your neighbours know that you are planning a DIY project where both manual and/or power equipment such as hammers and electric drills are being used. Everybody needs to do a bit of DIY now and then so they should be reasonable enough to understand. Agree working hours with your neighbours. You should be courteous enough not to begin any earlier than 8am and not to finish beyond 8pm. These are reasonable requests to make yet if your immediate neighbours have young children, you might wish to consider only carrying out DIY projects at weekends when the children are off school.

Alarm Systems

Both burglar and car alarm systems can cause extreme noise pollution and can be one of the biggest causes of agitation among neighbours. Most modern alarm systems come fitted with cut off devices these days which silences the alarm after, perhaps, 20 minutes or so.

Obviously, the problems caused by alarms going off usually arise when they are beyond your control. You’re likely to not even be at home to switch the alarm off manually, but there are still precautionary measures you can take, such as leaving a spare set of keys with trusted friends, family members or even other neighbours who can gain entry to a car or house and immobilise the device on your behalf.

If you arrange for this, be sure to let your local council and local police station know the contact details for the people who have been entrusted with this task. Both the police and council do have the authority to immobilise alarm systems themselves by whatever means necessary, and this can incur extra expense to you.

Incessant Dog Barking constitutes noise pollution and this is covered in more depth in another article contained on this website.

Who to contact

Depending on the nature of the noise, the time of day it occurs and the circumstances surrounding it, if matters can’t be resolved and get out of hand, you should contact either the Environmental Health Department of your local authority or the police - in which case dial 101. You should not dial 999 unless it is an emergency.

Your first port of call should be your neighbour, try to approach your neighbour in a calm manner in order to explain the issues you have. Don't try to raise your concerns while the noise is taking place as your more likely to be angry and more prone to arguing. If your neighbour is unwilling to compromise and the noise pollution continues you can take the matter further and contact your local authority, as they have a duty to take the matter seriously and investigate further, and if necessary take court action. You can submit a complaint to your local authority at www.gov.uk, where you will also find information about how to deal with noisy neighbours.

For more information about the law on noise pollution in your area, you should check out your local authority’s website to ensure that you are complying with the law or you could face heavy penalties.

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[Add a Comment]
I have had problems with my neighbour for 10 years hoovering at midnight doing diy at midnight and the worst. Having her bedroom TV on loud until 3am. We have complained several times to the council who have issued her with a letter she's been quiet for a few weeks then starts again. I have tried talking to her but she get hysterical saying I'm being unreasonable. It's been on for 3 years now she has started again. For the last 3 nights her TV has been on until 2.30am.I've bs.ged on the way written to her. I. At my wits end
Kat1978 - 13-Apr-17 @ 1:07 PM
Concerned! - Your Question:
Also, can we contact the local authority to ask them to monitor the noise levels in his flat or does it have to come from him??

Our Response:
This would normally come from the complainant but it's worth giving them a call to find out what is the best thing to do.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:06 PM
Concerned! - Your Question:
I live in a first floor flat that was converted by the freeholder after his family left home. It was converted in the 1980s and had no real soundproofing put in that we were aware of. Before we moved in, we discussed noise issues with him and he said he could hear some noise from the previous owners so he said if we installed sound proofing he would pay half. Obviously, having taken on a new mortgage we couldn't afford to do all the necessary work immediately but the bathroom really needed changing - on the day we moved in he got my son to slam the toilet seat so I could hear how loud it was. We obviously installed the best soundproofing during that work and he then refused to pay half, saying that he was only going to pay half if we had done the whole flat and then saying the bathroom wasn't the problem anyway!!! We have recently had the rest of the flat renovated and have laminate floor through the main living area and very thick carpet in the bedrooms - all with the best underlay we could get, all with soundproofing qualities. He is now bombarding us with emails/texts saying that the noise is worse than before and that we have to take all the flooring up and put better soundproofing in. We are a family of 3 and usually in bed by 10pm (sad I know!) although my husband is up at 5am for work - he claims he can hear us in the bedroom despite the added soundproofing underlay and extra thick carpet?? He called my husband down a few nights ago and got him to phone my son and tell him to walk/talk in different areas of the flat - he couldn't hear us talking in the kitchen (again, apparently much worse than before) and he couldn't hear us walking around the bedroom. He could hear foot steps on the laminate but we are planning to get rugs for this area which should lessen the footfall. He's still bombarding us with messages about the noise but we don't play loud music, we don't have any pets and despite having to get up to go to the toilet in the early hours of the morning (it's an age thing!!), we don't make any noise! Are we unreasonable because he is making us feel like problem neighbours??

Our Response:
No you're not being unreasonable in your activities, but installing laminatewas definitely a mistake which you should rectify if you can.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Apr-17 @ 2:05 PM
Also, can we contact the local authority to ask them to monitor the noise levels in his flat or does it have to come from him??
Concerned! - 5-Apr-17 @ 7:45 PM
I live in a first floor flat that was converted by the freeholder after his family left home. It was converted in the 1980s and had no real soundproofing put in that we were aware of. Before we moved in, we discussed noise issues with him and he said he could hear some noise from the previous owners so he said if we installed sound proofing he would pay half. Obviously, having taken on a new mortgage we couldn't afford to do all the necessary work immediately but the bathroom really needed changing - on the day we moved in he got my son to slam the toilet seat so I could hear how loud it was. We obviously installed the best soundproofing during that work and he then refused to pay half, saying that he was only going to pay half if we had done the whole flat and then saying the bathroom wasn't the problem anyway!!! We have recently had the rest of the flat renovated and have laminate floor through the main living area and very thick carpet in the bedrooms - all with the best underlay we could get, all with soundproofing qualities. He is now bombarding us with emails/texts saying that the noise is worse than before and that we have to take all the flooring up and put better soundproofing in. We are a family of 3 and usually in bed by 10pm (sad I know!) although my husband is up at 5am for work - he claims he can hear us in the bedroom despite the added soundproofing underlay and extra thick carpet?? He called my husband down a few nights ago and got him to phone my son and tell him to walk/talk in different areas of the flat - he couldn't hear us talking in the kitchen (again, apparently much worse than before) and he couldn't hear us walking around the bedroom. He could hear foot steps on the laminate but we are planning to get rugs for this area which should lessen the footfall. He's still bombarding us with messages about the noise but we don't play loud music, we don't have any pets and despite having to get up to go to the toilet in the early hours of the morning (it's an age thing!!), we don't make any noise! Are we unreasonable because he is making us feel like problem neighbours??
Concerned! - 5-Apr-17 @ 7:36 PM
My neighbours in Smethwick are the most common vilest form people ive ever had the disfortune to encounter....the woman who lives next to me and her absokutely bell end of a son moved in after her relationship to her drunken ex ended....(I think she turned him to drink) ...since spiliting and moving shes lived on benefit's for best part of half the time she has lived there. (Claiming she is alergic to the sun...yeah right) She has since taken up with a divorced man (but they got together whilst he was still marriedand shes since got herself a job, but the noise they create is chronic, she's a very large lady, so I know she can't help the noise she makes when she tries to shuffle her big bonedbody about her gaff but she slams all her internal doors, and her son...who's a proper dork...runs up and down the stairs all day with his friend peppapig....her guests are vile too...I've heard homophobic remarks made outside my house knowing about my sexuality....and passed of as banter between one another....the funny thing us the guy that said it, is the ugliest littlest short fat personI've ever seen...so he needn't feel threatened about my origination,I wouldn't look at the ugly f*ckr once let alone twice.... ive got video evidence of her guest saying homophobic remark, plus a bideo of her son throwing food into our garden....a sausgae from the chipshop to be precise....I'm just gathering everything to makw a complaint to EH. Other than geberally being a thick lowform person she has the most irritablecommon yamm accent it's grating....so when I hear her noise in her garden...I shut my windows.
Hopesy83 - 24-Mar-17 @ 6:55 PM
At leaSt once a week my neighbours upstairs decide to play their music really loud at 11pm. The bass is so loud. We've asked thme to turn it down which they do but then 15 mins later they turn it up again. Is this worthy of a 101 call when it happens? It's a very regular occurrence.
Mooface456 - 16-Feb-17 @ 11:43 PM
tired lady - Your Question:
I am attached to a Selwood house and the neighbours are extremely noise especially from 18:00 to midnight. I helped my neighbour when her husband was being abusive to her and even went to court to help her (he was banned from the house). Now the screaming, banging and incessant running has become excessive. She leaves the children on their own while she goes to the local shop (about 15 minutes walk away) and the eldest of the four children is about 9. I have passed all this onto Selwood but nothing has been done. This has been going on since November and I have sent in many logs about the noise and even had an interview with Selwood too. I am at the end of nerves now and not sleeping as the noise is terrible when I try to go to bed and then, even if I doze off they wake me or I lie there waiting for the next screaming match. The mother does not seem to intervene at all and the crying is awful. It is not just myself that has heard this, my family and my husband have been appauled at the level of noise I am putting up with. One Sunday evening my husband was woken up and he was sleeping in the bedroom at the other end of the house as he was up very early for working away./

Our Response:
If the landlord won't take action, you should contact your local environmental health department to complain about the noise (they may take action for noise after 11pm or before 7pm)
ProblemNeighbours - 17-Jan-17 @ 2:00 PM
I am attached to a Selwood house and the neighbours are extremely noise especially from 18:00 to midnight.I helped my neighbour when her husband was being abusive to her and even went to court to help her (he was banned from the house).Now the screaming, banging and incessant running has become excessive.She leaves the children on their own while she goes to the local shop (about 15 minutes walk away) and the eldest of the four children is about 9.I have passed all this onto Selwood but nothing has been done.This has been going on since November and I have sent in many logs about the noise and even had an interview with Selwood too.I am at the end of nerves now and not sleeping as the noise is terrible when I try to go to bed and then, even if I doze off they wake me or I lie there waiting for the next screaming match.The mother does not seem to intervene at all and the crying is awful.It is not just myself that has heardthis, my family and my husband have been appauled at the level of noise I am putting up with.One Sunday evening my husband was woken up and he was sleeping in the bedroom at the other end of the house as he was up very early for working away./
tired lady - 16-Jan-17 @ 5:51 PM
So I live in between two of the noisiest inconsiderate idiots you've ever met. One Side have young children like my self. But they keep the. intentionally away until 2am,so that mum and dad get a lie in. They (mainly the mum) shout and scream and stomps about and slams the doors all night. And don't get me started on there TV volume. They're so loud I may as well be sat in there living room with them, honestly I know all there secrets and personal problems because they're just so loud. The when they eventually call it a night 3am joke. My over neighbours kick off, arguing, fighting dogs barking slamming about, the police are round at least 2 a week for them. I've complained about them both yet nothings being done, I can't afford to move out just now I'm in my first year of uni trying to keep mine and my 3yo daughters heads above water and get us a better life. But it's just so difficult when I don't even get an hours sleep most nights. I've just started taking sleeping medication. Something I really didn't want to do because I have a little one but it's the only way I can sleep through the noise levels and the lack of humanity in my neighbours.
Sleepdepivedmum - 14-Jan-17 @ 9:29 AM
Barbs - Your Question:
Hi, I live in a flat and I think the neighbours above have taken up the carpets and I can hear everything from taps, light switches washing machine being turn turned on and off and they walk very loudly which keeps waking me and my housemates up during the night and before our alarms everyday. What can I do?

Our Response:
Pop up and have a word with them, it might be that they don't realise the changes in noise levels that their new flooring has made. If you don't want to do that, we have an example tempate of a written note and a follow-up formal letter you could adapt and send - you'll find this here./a>
ProblemNeighbours - 9-Jan-17 @ 11:34 AM
Hi, I live in a flat and I think the neighbours above have taken up the carpets and I can hear everything from taps, light switches washing machine being turn turned on and off and they walk very loudly which keeps waking me and my housemates up during the night and before our alarms everyday. What can I do?
Barbs - 7-Jan-17 @ 8:47 AM
Is it legal? My neighbour runs a business. So they can have noises as many as they can. They use the kitchen with noises and turn on loud machines during the night. They turn on louder machines and louder kitchen noises during the day, but the council said these were not nuisance.
tweetybird - 6-Jan-17 @ 4:31 PM
michbutts - Your Question:
Darcy, I am disgusted in your comments, a person with learning difficulties cannot just be told to shut up and stop shouting, his mother is probably at the end of her tether and upset and then to have you go round shouting!!! Grow up

Our Response:
Darcy is in a difficult position. As you can see from the other comments it can become very stressful having to listen to any type of excessive noise on a frequent basis. It can also be difficult to cope with a child who has learning difficulties. Perhaps the best approach would be to see if there are any other organisation who can help either with the neighbour and her child or with additional sound proofing. Your council or Citizens' Advice might know of anything in your area.
ProblemNeighbours - 5-Jan-17 @ 1:59 PM
Darcy, I am disgusted in your comments, a person with learning difficulties cannot just be told to shut up and stop shouting, his mother is probably at the end of her tether and upset and then to have you go round shouting!!! Grow up
michbutts - 4-Jan-17 @ 9:23 PM
My next door neighbour is a woman with a 28 year old son with learning difficulties. He screams, shoutsand howls from 7am until well past 11pm every single day. The noise is so loud that I can hear it over my television. Most days I end up in tears because I just cannot cope withthis incessant intrusion into my life. I knocked on the door and asked her if she would Please tell him to stop shouting, without a word she slammed the door in my face. I contacted my local council but it appears that because he is disabled his quality of life is far more important than mine. Why does his disability give both him and his mother the rite to make other peoples lives a misery?
Darcy - 23-Dec-16 @ 5:07 PM
My neighbour is doing building work at 1057 at night using stilth saws. Hammering its been non stop for 5 hours can anything be done....
Bt - 18-Dec-16 @ 10:55 PM
Is it legal? My neighbour runs a business. So they can have noises as many as they can. They use the kitchen with noises and turn on loud machines during the night. They turn on louder machines and louder kitchen noises during the day, but the council said these were not nuisance. I need your help and advices. What should I do to deal with the situation next. Thank you
tweetybird - 16-Dec-16 @ 9:22 AM
Thank you for your reply. Could you please tell me if there are other organizations who deal with neighbour noises? Because the council refused to investigate any further.
tweetybird - 8-Dec-16 @ 2:56 PM
tweetybird - Your Question:
Does the court accept if I record the neighbour noises?

Our Response:
Not usually, unless you have an accurate noise monitoring/recording device and can demonstrate exact times of occurrence. A preferred option would be to contact your environmental health officer and ask them to install a noise monitoring device in your property for an agreed period of time. The EHO can then take action in their powers to serve an abatement notice or to subsequently take the matter to court.
ProblemNeighbours - 8-Dec-16 @ 10:26 AM
Melinna - Your Question:
Hi,Our neighbors fight almost every 2-3 days and they always start at 12:00 midnight. Shouting swearing, throwing things and slamming doors are part of their routine which is now causing me a lot of stress. We have told them by our land lady and they still carry on. Please what can I do about this as I can sleep at night and am getting panic attacks because of their horrific fights.

Our Response:
Please see the "Who to Contact" section of the article above.
ProblemNeighbours - 6-Dec-16 @ 9:48 AM
Does the court accept if I record the neighbour noises?
tweetybird - 5-Dec-16 @ 10:03 AM
Please excuse my grammar in the comment below.The device I am using makes it hard to track the beginning and ends of sentences. I hope you understand the gist of my problem in ´ Please excuse my grammar in the comment below.I found it hard to track the ends of sentences on my devices. I hope you can understand it. It supposed to state that the council and police will not help us even though he lives at the address and parks the car outside on the street.
sleepless - 5-Dec-16 @ 7:05 AM
I have been told that my problem is something neither Liverpool City Council nor Merseyside police can not help me or my neighbours, her goes: There is car owned by person staying a house in residential street where I live. His car alarm makes a loud percing BEEP every 2 minutes at all times when parked. The noise penitrates the double glazing and makes it impossible to have the windows open at night. This noise keeps me awake throughout the night and has began to make me feel ill. My neighbours have asked me on my thoughts as they too can not sleep. I told them about my calls to the council and police. I have spoken to owner of the car, he makes excuses and promises to get it fixed. This been happening since July it is now December. Any advice to stop the happening to us, greatly accepted.
Sleepless - 5-Dec-16 @ 12:09 AM
Hi, Our neighbors fight almost every 2-3 days and they always start at 12:00 midnight. Shouting swearing, throwing things and slamming doors are part of their routine which is now causing me a lot of stress. We have told them by our land lady and they still carry on. Please what can i do about this as i can sleep at night and am getting panic attacks because of their horrific fights.
Melinna - 3-Dec-16 @ 1:02 AM
Is it legal? During the night the care home staff use the kitchen which is one metre away from my bedroom with loud kitchen noises and their machines on. if I record the noises. Does the court accept?Because the council refused to investigate.
tweetybird - 26-Nov-16 @ 8:20 AM
I live in a small block of 6 flats, to which only 4 are accessible by a communal stairway. This stairway is cleaned once a week, however the times vary. Just recently I was woken up at 6:30am to the sound of a brush and mop being whacked against the sides while this cleaner was cleaning. I got out of bed and informed him that there are regulations against anti-social noise, to which he responded that "I don't care" and that "I am not waiting until 9am to come here to do my job". Prior to this incident he has been cleaning at various times of the day, including the afternoons. But upon checking the sheet that he signs to say he has attended, he has been signing this around 7am upon completion. Surely it is not right that he can make such noise at such early hours of the morning. I had contacted the landlord and his company, and yet to inform them of this excessive noise at such early hours. To which I have been given a warning by the landlord due to my behaviour towards this individual. I do accept the warning, as i should not have become so irate with this individual due to his unprofessional behaviour.
NoisyCleaners - 20-Nov-16 @ 2:51 PM
Hi I live in a private semi-detached dwelling. The adjoining neighbours son acquired a dartboard last Christmas. The Sound of darts hitting the board resonates throughout our home. The Son is at home most of the day. Usually starts 2pm and is on and off until well past midnight 7 days a week. Have written to them to no avail. Anyone any experience of how the courts will view this. We've had to vacate our 2no. adjoining first floor bedrooms in order to get some sleep in opposite side of the house. Have a extensive noise diary compiled and had a noise engineer come in and take measurement
Cousteaux - 17-Nov-16 @ 8:46 PM
janicep31 - Your Question:
My neighbour has an avairy with iver 50 birds and they are very noisy in summer its4.25am they start and dont stop until after 11pm, now its 10.30pm and 7.30am even at weekends, council gave said they have never dealt with this and will probably treat same as diy rules, althought people dont do diy 365 days but the birds do

Our Response:
Try and spend a week or two making notes of all the occasions when the birds are at their noisiest (start up time in the a.m and stop time at night etc). Environmental Health may take it more seriously if they see just how constant the noise is. They might agree to install a noise monitor.
ProblemNeighbours - 11-Nov-16 @ 10:52 AM
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