Neighbour Noise

Noisy Neighbours & Noise Issues - Part 4

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Article Covers:

- Noise from your Neighbour
- What you can do
- Legislation and Options in dealing with and managing noise

I've tried all of this, I want to take formal action

Sadly, this is a very regular occurrence. You've tried with your neighbour, talked with them maybe, written to them and yet they still persist in making noise that they are aware disturbs you and prevents you from enjoying your own home.

Your next step is to complain formally to your local authority and the most often used way is by complaining directly to your local authority Environmental Health Department about the noise you're experiencing.

Your Local Authority (Council) has a duty to perform an investigation when they receive complaints about noise from any form of location. So whether you live next door to a pub or club, a noisy family or neighbour, have noisy machinery/vehicles and equipment in the street, a factory or any form of business close by, your local authority are obliged to investigate fully.

Legislation is under sections 80 and 81 within the Environmental Protection Act of 1990 (as amended by the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993) and your Local Authority will have a responsibility to look into and deal with any noise sources that are considered to be a statutory nuisance.

Your Local Authority will have at its disposal different capabilities and resources in place that they can use to deal with and investigate neighbour and anti-social behaviour problems.

Look in your local telephone directory to find the number of your local authority (council). You should be visited or contacted for more information and then be advised of your council's plan of action and policies in cases of complaints about noise.

Chances are you will be visited at home to discuss the matter and the Environmental Health Officer will explain your rights and what you can and can't expect from the local authority. Your neighbour will likely then be informed (either in writing or by a visit from the EHO, or perhaps both) by the Local Authority that they have received a complaint of noise nuisance.

They will outline to your neighbour what is expected from them and will be asked to be more considerate and take action to reduce their noise. They should also be informed of the legal position and the penalties for persistently creating noise that is disturbing.

Your local authority should keep your identity confidential - the originator of the complaint (e.g. you) will not be made available to your neighbour. Check this out with your Environmental Health Officer (EHO) for your peace of mind as you could be worried about unwanted repercussions via your neighbour after you have complained formally.

Your EHO will explain what steps can be taken after the initial contact with your neighbour and especially if this fails to remedy the problem. They may decide to install sound recording equipment into your home to monitor the noise, ask you to complete and continue with noise recording log sheets and they could also witness the noise in person within your home.

Before any action is taken, the Local Authority has to inform your neighbour of what could happen (e.g. they could be recorded/monitored) if they continue to pose a nuisance to you - this is under legislation from the Human Rights Act 1998. If this is not done, however ironic this can and probably will feel to you, your neighbour's human rights will not have been upheld!

Some Local Authorities operate out of hours noise teams and if you are suffering noise during the night time hours, they can visit you and witness the disturbance first hand. Again this service varies throughout the country, ask what's available to you.

Taking your own action

If for whatever reason your Local Authority cannot intervene further on your behalf or you have reasons not to initially involve them, you are entitled to take and instigate your own action through the Magistrates court against your neighbour or the source of the noise nuisance.

You can complain under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 directly to the courts about a noise problem. You will need to convince without doubt, to the courts that the noise problem you are experiencing constitutes a statutory nuisance.

If this route is for you and you are convinced to take action under Section 82 of the EPA 1990, you are required to give a minimum of three days notice in writing to the person who is responsible for the noise you are taking action over. In that written record you are required to list details of your complaint and you must ensure this is delivered via hand or recorded delivery post, dated and that you keep a copy.

The Magistrates Court will then work with you and inform you of further procedures and expectations and will also decide if a summons can be issued.

We would strongly advise you to take detailed and further professional advice before embarking on this option either from your Local Authority, the Magistrates Court or a qualified legal professional. This is a more complicated route for individuals involved in making noise orientated complaints.

Also be aware that you will be liable for all costs relating to taking your own action through this route. You need to check this out fully in advance with the relevant professionals to avoid running up costly bills.

You will not be able to gain legal representation for a case of this type through the legal aid scheme but it's possible you could be eligible financially within the 'Legal Help' scheme which could provide free or partly assisted legal advice/assistance. Again it's very important you ask the Court or your local Citizen's Advice Bureau for more advice, help and information.

Part 5: Civil Action, Renting, Abatement Notices