Although the responsibility for noise enforcement lies with local authorities, people still complain to the police

Neighbour Noise Problems

Noise from neighbours is a common source of nuisance. The main problems are barking dogs, loud music or TV, shouting, banging doors and DIY activities.

What Can You Do?
First, approach your neighbour and explain politely that you are being troubled by noise.

Action by the Council
If the problem persists, contact your local Environmental Health Department for advice. Under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, they must take "all reasonable steps" to investigate your complaint.

Sound Insulation
If the problem seems to be inadequate sound insulation, there are DIY measures that can help.

Night Time Noise Offence
The Noise Act 1996 gave local authorities the option to impose further restrictions on night time noise in their area.

Taking Your Own Action
Complaining direct to the Magistrates' Court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This is quite simple and need not cost much; you do need to employ a solicitor, but is advisable to obtain some legal advice.

Anti Social Behaviour
Under the Housing Act 1996 social landlords can take action against tenants for anti social behaviour.
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 gives councils the power to issue an anti-social behaviour order to anyone causing 'harrassment, alarm or distress'. Disobeying an order carries a prison sentence of up to five years

The Environment Agency Web site

Defra Web site


It might be the traffic, airplanes in their way to Heathrow or barking dogs, but above all those inconsiderate neighbours. The fact is that over half of the homes in the UK are thought to be exposed to noise levels exceeding the World Health Organization's recommended daytime level of 55 decibels.

The Noise Action Day, last June 4th, co-ordinated by the environmental protection charity, NSCA (National Society for Clean Air), provided an opportunity to promote practical solutions to everyday neighbour noise problems, to promote communication and consideration between neighbours, and to educate and inform both noise makers and noise sufferers about noise reduction.

It was also addressed to local authorities and mediation services to inform the public of services available. NSCA Secretary General Richard Mills commented: "Although the responsibility for noise enforcement lies with local authorities, more people still complain to the police about neighbour noise. NSCA believes that this points up the need for better promotion of noise services, and improved channels of communication between Police and LAs".

According to a new survey by NSCA, local authority noise enforcement officers want the police to be involved in tackling late night noise problems. The survey also reveals that front-line officers are ambivalent about the new powers proposed in the Anti Social Behaviour Bill, currently progressing through Parliament.

Mr Mills said: "Our survey shows noise complaints are generally still on the increase. If we are to tackle the growing problem, local noise enforcement officers will need police help, particularly late at night, to enforce the new legislation safely and effectively."

NSCA's national Noise Committee monitors the state of noise enforcement in an annual survey. This year's results confirm that the major sources of noise complaint are amplified music, closely followed by barking dogs. Local authority noise specialists blame a high expectation of quiet and incompatible lifestyles and selfish attitudes for the continued problems, and advocate better education on noise expectation and noise problems as the best solution.

Urban Quality of Life Minister Alun Michael said:
"Many people's lives are blighted by ambient noise, mainly background noise from transport and industry, but noise from inconsiderate neighbours, particularly in urban communities, continues to be a main concern.
"Defra is mapping ambient noise across the whole of England. This project will provide a valuable baseline which will help Government devise strategies to reduce background noise where its impact is worst.

"In parallel, we are developing a Neighbour Noise Strategy to try to tackle the roots of a problem which dominates the lives of an unfortunate minority who find themselves living near selfish and inconsiderate people."

Mary Stevens, NSCA's Noise Action Day co-ordinator, said: "Neighbour noise causes misery for many - on Noise Action Day we support noise control services across England in promoting simple, practical solutions to noise and raising awareness of the services available."

Sign up for our free weekly newsletter

Comment on this story on the forum