But what is considered noise? What can I do about it? Who should I talk to?
Noise is defined by the
Law and Your Environment
Any unwanted sound. Noise could occur unexpectedly, or be too loud or repetitive. At certain decibels, it can be hazardous to health, with low-frequency noise as damaging as loud noise. Noise accounts for most of the complaints that local councils and the Environment Agency receive about environmental pollution, and is a major source of stress.
Some noise may well be expected, for instance, if your home is located near any major public or entertainment venue. However, the law dictates that between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am, noise must be kept below-defined maximum levels.
Often, the source of unpleasant and unexpected noise may be coming from a little closer to home. Noisy neighbours can often be the butt of jokes or anecdotes, but can also be a real source of stress and aggravation. It can often be easier, less tense and quicker to attempt to deal with this particular problem yourself in the first instance.
In fact, the HomeOwners Alliance finds that one in three people find that simply talking to their neighbours has immediately solved the problem! But it will always be best to approach your neighbour at a reasonable time, in a calm manner and with examples of when and why the noise has bothered you. Make sure not to be confrontational and tell them how you would like the problem solved. Most people will not find it unreasonable to request some forewarning if they are having a party, or not to practice those drums after 10 pm.
Sometimes if the dispute can’t be resolved informally, you might make use of a mediation service. Where a third party can act as an informal referee in guiding you to an amicable conclusion. Although there is a fee involved, this is often much less expensive than taking legal action.
However, always bear in mind that the council does have an obligation to investigate noise complaints and can help where the noise is a nuisance or even damaging to your health. This is referred to as a ‘statutory nuisance’. Your local council then has the right under the Noise Act to:
- issue a warning
- issue a fixed penalty notice
- seize noisemaking equipment
They can also issue an Abatement Notice dictating the noise should stop, or be limited to within certain hours. You can find further information from the government on how to deal with nuisance neighbours here.
Sometimes if you live in a busy urban area, near the main road or public rail link, some level of noise is to be expected. Making sure you properly insulate your house against this, can be the perfect solution. Properly insulated windows in particular can offer immense protection from outside noise. You might think double glazing is the best option here, but secondary glazing is in fact a much more effective barrier against noise. For more information on how this might be the right solution for you, the expert advisers at secondary glazing specialists City Sound will be only too happy to discuss your options.