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You are here: Home / Licensing And Inspections / Noise Nuisance

Neighbour noise problems

Sound is essential to our daily lives, but noise is not. Noise can be defined as unwanted sound. It is a source of irritation and stress for many people and can even damage our hearing if it is loud enough. Many of us are exposed to stressful levels of noise at home and at work.

In this section of the website, you can find out what you can do if you are affected by noise at your home, either through people in your neighbourhood, such as noise from a television or stereo, DIY, cars and car repairs, barking dogs, burglar alarms, banging doors and domestic appliances. You can also find out what help is available if you are being affected by industrial or commercial noise, such as noise from construction sites, factories, pubs and clubs, ice cream chimes, loudspeakers in the street, takeaways and other businesses.

Neighbourhood nuisance

It is a fact of life that we all make noise, whether by talking to other people, playing music, entertaining, driving our cars or just going about our daily business. No house is completely soundproof and everyone should expect some noise from people around them. People's sensitivity to sound varies, what one person considers is quiet others may think is noisy and annoying. You may be disturbed because:

What you can do yourself

If you are being disturbed by noise from a neighbour, consider approaching him/her to explain politely that you are being troubled by noise. Often an immediate approach by us can lead to a breakdown in relations between neighbours and whilst we try to avoid this in the way that we deal with complaints, it is often better to try to solve the problem between yourselves first. You may find this difficult but often people are unaware that they are causing a problem and most will be glad to do what they can to help. If you think it's appropriate you could invite them in to your home to hear the level of noise. Always approach the matter carefully if you think your neighbour might react angrily.

If your initial request to your neighbour is snubbed or ignored, write to them about the problem. Refer to your previous approach, anything they might have agreed to do and the effect the noise is having, on you and/or your family. Ask them again to stop.

If the problem persists, keep a record of the times you have spoken to your neighbours and copies of any letters you write. You should keep a diary of the dates and times the nuisance occurs, how long it lasted and the effect it has on you. This will provide the first level of evidence if any subsequent legal action is needed. Be careful to make a record as events happen, not sometime later and try not to exaggerate. For example:

 

Date

Start Time

Finish Time

Type of Noise

Effect

27/1/02

12.05 am

01.30 am

loud music

Woke me up - couldn't sleep until 2.00 am

29/1/02

09.00 pm

12.30 am

hammering & banging

Could not hear television unless on full

 

Tell your neighbour every time a nuisance occurs. If the problem persists, you can make a formal complaint to us. If the person causing the problem is a Council tenant, you should make your complaint to the local area housing office. If the property is privately owned you should contact our pollution team. If the property is rented by a housing association, you should contact the housing association first.

If the noise problem seems to be inadequate sound insulation, there are a number of DIY solutions available to improve it and our pollution team on 01329 236100 or regulatory@fareham.gov.uk who can give you advice.

Industrial / Commercial noise

You may be affected by industrial or commercial noise, such as noise from construction sites, factories, pubs and clubs, ice cream chimes, loudspeakers in the street, takeaways and other businesses.

First of all consider making an approach to the company creating the noise to explain the effect it is having on you. They may be unaware of the problems they are causing, and if approached in a reasonable manner will respond helpfully. However, if the noise continues, or you do not feel confident in approaching the company, contact our pollution team. We will treat your complaint in the strictest confidence.

What we will do after receiving your complaint

Normally, we will send you a letter enclosing an advice leaflet and diary sheet to keep a record of the problem. The diary is an important part of an investigation and should include the dates and times you hear the noise and the effect it has on you. This will help us assess your problem and allow us to choose the best way forward. We will also write to the person responsible for the noise to advise them of the complaint, although we will not tell them the name of the person complaining. This initial approach by us is often all that is needed to solve the problem.

Investigation

Noise is subjective and what may be an extreme nuisance to you may hardly be noticed by someone else. We must hear the noise for ourselves to decide whether or not a "statutory nuisance" exists. We may need to visit your home to hear the noise first hand or to set up equipment in it to record it. When we do this, our officers assess how loud and unreasonable the noise is to the average person. Things that help us to decide include:

The success of our action will rely on you helping to gather evidence by completing the diary log forms provided, allowing access and following instructions about noise monitoring devices. You must return diary log forms as soon as possible - for daily incidents this will be after one week and for less frequent incidents two to three weeks. If they are not returned within four weeks, the case will be closed on the assumption that the problem has stopped.

Legal action

If our officers are satisfied that the noise is a nuisance in legal terms they will serve a noise abatement notice on your neighbour/the source of the noise under Section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. If the noise continues, it would be an offence and could lead to prosecution of the offender and/or seizure of any noise making equipment. On the rare occasions that a complaint does go this far, your evidence will be very important and you may be called to give it at a hearing.

How long will it take?

Many complaints can be sorted out by first contact with the person causing the problem. We aim to solve nine out of 10 of these 'simpler' cases within one month. Unfortunately not all cases are 'simple'. Sometimes it takes months to investigate all aspects of a noise problem to recommend the best solution. There may be practical reasons why a company has to be allowed a longer period to complete the suggested work. For example, a factory may need a silencer to be specially designed before it can be fitted.

Anti-social Behaviour


Many complaints can be sorted out by first contact with the person causing the problem. We aim to solve nine out of 10 of these 'simpler' cases within one month. Unfortunately not all cases are 'simple'. Sometimes it takes months to investigate all aspects of a noise problem to recommend the best solution. There may be practical reasons why a company has to be allowed a longer period to complete the suggested work. For example, a factory may need a silencer to be specially designed before it can be fitted.

If we can't help

Our experience in dealing with these problems suggests that if we have been unable to hear or record the noise ourselves after arranging three separate monitoring exercises it is unlikely that we will get the evidence we require to take legal action on your behalf. To avoid any further delay we will normally write to you after the third monitoring exercise and let you know what alternative steps you might take. This does not mean that you do not have a problem: just that the investigation methods available to us are not suited to getting evidence needed to prove a case on your behalf. You can take your own legal action under Section 82 of the Act and make a complaint to a magistrates' court. You will need to produce evidence - particularly copies of any letters and diary log forms. The magistrate(s) will listen to your evidence and that of anyone else affected by the noise. The magistrate(s) will then decide whether, beyond all reasonable doubt, the noise problem amounts to a statutory nuisance.

If you need to get in touch with the pollution team to make a complaint, get more advice or clarify any guidance, contact us on 01329 236100 or at regulatory@fareham.gov.uk

Further information

You can see more information on these websites:



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Fareham Borough Council, Civic Offices, Civic Way, Hampshire, PO16 7AZ
Tel: +44 (0) 1329 236100 | Mobile Text/Photo: 07876 131415 | Fax: +44 (0) 1329 821770
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