Noise Nuisance and the Pandemic

 14 August 2020

The pandemic has brought a new meaning to the importance of the home as a sanctuary. At a time where a strong local community can brighten lonely days, the extra time spent at home can easily raise tensions and make isolation all the more intolerable.

Actions that you can take when faced with noisy neighbours:

  • Collect evidence
    If you believe that your neighbour is causing a legal nuisance that is actionable then firstly evidence of this must be collected.
    In the example of a noise complaint, recording the times at which the noise is excessive and the type of music.
  • Keep a record of everything
    Noise complaints are a ‘statutory nuisance’, therefore the council is required to investigate any complaint made.

    It is important to record the details of the noise so as to inform the council.

    The council is then able to issue a noise abatement order which will legally require your neighbour to stop otherwise a fine may be imposed of up to £5,000.

    Try to gather the opinions of fellow neighbours in the area.
  • Communication
    Another rational approach is to verbally communicate with your neighbour in as cordial a manner as possible, whilst either face to face adhering to social distancing or over the phone or even by sending a letter. If this approach causes tensions to flare then it is best to remove oneself from the situation. Try to record what is said during the conversation. It is important to make sure that there is a level of understanding between your neighbour and yourself so they are aware of the problem. Regardless of how upset or angry you are try to remain non-confrontational and explain the situation as they may be oblivious to the problem they are causing.

    When trying to come to a solution try to keep the objective of good neighbour relations at the forefront and be prepared to negotiate.

Due to the situation lockdown presents informal solutions should be preferable but cases will arise where neighbours may be seemingly unreasonable.

Steps to take when communication attempts break down:

  • Contact the council
    Councils have been restricted in offering a noise complaint service. Due to the pandemic they are unbale to make house visits to assess the noise and instead to consultations by phone call.

    It may be the case for some councils that the capacity to respond to noise complaints is more limited due to the pandemic.  
  • Legal Action
    Once other measures have been exhausted, you should be equipped with documentation, and legal action may be taken using section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. However, this can be an expensive task. It is advisable to seek independent legal advice.

The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice.  Law applicable as at date of publication. 


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