Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, you will at some point have to deal with noisy neighbours.
It’s a fact of life that some people like to entertain, others like to do DIY and some homeowners allow their kids to start a rock band!
Most people are fairly reasonable and so you usually can come to some arrangement.
However, every street has one overly noisy neighbour who isn’t willing to consider the effect they’re having on the people around them.
Thankfully, there are many ways to build better neighbourly relationships and lower tensions that could flare over noisy neighbours.
What’s that noise?
Within the home, there’s plenty of opportunities for noise. Most of which you probably don’t consider as you’ve blocked them out.
Hard floors such as wood and stone, look fantastic but can be noisier than carpet. And while the occasional movement probably doesn’t create that much noise, if you’re constantly pasting around then you’ll be creating a fair amount of noise.
If you love movies or music, you might have a dedicated sound system, which is louder than the typical hi-fi. Your sub-woofer might make everything sound rich but these bass frequencies can travel far and cause a nuisance.
If you have kids, they probably wanted to try a musical instrument at some point. While the drums, violin and electric guitar can sound great, there are many years of unholy noises before you start to hear progress!
Most animals are virtually silent and are ideal as house pets. Dogs are generally quiet but do have moments of barking or howling. The same is true for cockerels!
Another source of noise is DIY. While it can get loud, most DIY is fairly quiet but it can take a few hours to complete a task. Even a small amount of noise over a few hours can create a nuisance.
Finally, alarms can cause all kinds of noise problems. Whether you have a burglar or smoke alarm indoors and a one in the car.
Talk over a cup of tea
Having looked at the major sources of noise, it’s worth discussing what steps we can take to try to resolve any noise issues.
Firstly ask yourself if it’s the noise is reasonable. If they’re entertaining or doing DIY on a Saturday afternoon then it’s annoying but shouldn’t last more than a few hours.
However, if the party is still going at 2 am, having started in the afternoon or if they have a dog who is continually barking, then it’s best to try and solve any issues head-on.
Invite the neighbour over for a cup of tea or coffee and try to discuss your issues with them in a friendly, informal setting. They might have a good reason why they created the noise and didn’t let you know. Emails and texts don’t always reach the recipient.
If you’re not comfortable approaching them, then it could be best to write them a letter together outline your concerns and put it through their door.
Writing a letter can be helpful as it makes you distil your issues into a few paragraphs and consider what you’re trying to say. Having a record of your neighbour’s behaviour can also be useful if the problem goes further in future.
Whether you pop round for a drink or write a letter, it’s best to try and be friendly. You want to release the tension between you, not increase it.
If a friendly chat or letter doesn’t solve the issue, it might be worth talking with other neighbours. Others in the street might be suffering too. Having a group of you approach the noisy neighbour, might be enough for them to change their behaviour.
If you can’t resolve your issue in a friendly way, then consider using mediation service. As an independent person, a mediator can help both sides find a solution objectively.
Some councils and housing associations provide free mediation services to their tenants. You can also search for a mediator online through the Ministry of Justice.
If the neighbours continue to be noisy even after you’ve talked to them informally, then it’s worth keeping a record of the problem.
You do need to be fairly detailed in your notes. Record what the issue is, the date, how long the problem last and any other relevant information. The more detail, the better.
These notes help to build a picture of the disturbances caused by your noisy neighbours and could serve as useful evidence in the future.
Getting the authorities involved
Before getting the council or police involved, consider if your neighbour is a tenant. If they are, then you might be able to solve the issue by talking with their landlord.
If that doesn’t work or they are the homeowner, then the next step is to contact your local council. The GOV.UK site allows you to submit a noise complaint to your local council online.
Noise complaints are often considered to be a ‘statutory nuisance’. In this case, the council has a duty to investigate. They will likely ask for proof and so having a record of any noise disturbances will be useful.
If your neighbour is found to be excessively noisy, then the council has to issue a noise abatement order. Your neighbour is now legally required to stop creating any disturbances.
If they continue being noisy, the local council can fine them up to £5,000.
Threats and antisocial behaviour
If your neighbour has become threatening or if the noise is accompanied by further antisocial behaviour, then contact the police.
Take action through the courts
If all else fails, you can take legal action against your noisy neighbours.
Taking someone to court can be expensive, time-consuming and stressful. So it should be your last resort if nothing else works. You’ll have to pay court fees and may have to pay a solicitor.
If you’re considering legal action, it’s best to approach a law centre, advice centre or Citizens Advice. All will be able to provide you with some free legal help.