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Neighbour Noise

 

NOISY NEIGHBOURS

Noise from neighbours is a common source of disturbance which can cause upset.  The main problems are barking dogs, loud music or TV, shouting, banging doors and DIY activities.  Remember, no house or flat is totally soundproof, so everyone should expect a certain degree of noise from neighbours. 

What can I do?

Firstly, try approaching your neighbour and politely explain the impact the noise has on you.  You may find this difficult,  but  neighbours are often unaware of any problems they are causing.  Many will gladly do what they can to reduce the noise.   

If this doesn't work  and the property is privately owned or belongs to a housing association, it is worth contacting the landlord or managing agent.  Most tenancy conditions include requirements that tenants do not cause a disturbance to neighbours.  The landlord may be prepared to act if serious disturbance is being caused.

If your property and the noise makers property are Council owned in the first instance you can raise the matter with the Housing Department. Their contact details are at https://www.dover.gov.uk/Housing/Housing-for-Tenants/Feedback/Give-Feedback-and-Contact-Us.aspx or you can report anti-social behaviour at  https://www.dover.gov.uk/Housing/Housing-for-Tenants/ASB/Anti-Social-Behaviour.aspx

Mediation

It is sometimes the case that neighbours fall out and mediation can help  resolve issues.  Folkestone & Hythe, Dover and Thanet mediation Service offer a free, confidential and impartial service, independent of Dover District Council. Both sides of any dispute are encouraged to discuss and agree solutions to improve a given situation. They can be contacted on 01303 227296, by e-mail admin@mediationse.org.uk or online at http://www.mediationsoutheast.btck.co.uk/NeighbourMediation

Making a complaint to the Environmental Protection Team

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA) councils can  deal with noise nuisance. However, the Act is specific about what does and does not constitute a statutory  nuisance.  The noise must come from private land or property, or be generated by vehicles, machinery or equipment in the street.  These powers apply not only in order to control existing noise but also noise that is expected to occur or recur.

What is a Statutory Nuisance?

This is difficult to define but could be described as unreasonable interference with the enjoyment of your property.  It must occur regularly and continue for a period of time that makes it unreasonable.

The following are unlikely to be a statutory nuisance:

  • A one-off party

  • Neighbours arguing

  • A lawnmower used during the day

  • A baby crying, children playing or dogs barking occasionally

Under the EPA the Council has no control over

  • Road traffic/revving engines on the public highway

  • People shouting/laughing or screaming on a public road or footpath

  • Air traffic noise

 Each case is judged on its merits, taking the following into consideration

  • The time of the noise (noise can be a nuisance at any time day or night)

  • The duration of the noise

  • How often the noise occurs

  • The type of noise

  • Whether it is socially acceptable (e.g. bonfire night or church bells during the day)

The investigating officer, not the complainant, makes the decision on whether noise is a statutory nuisance.  Case law requires us to act as the ‘ordinary reasonable person’ when reaching a decision.  We cannot, therefore, take into account those who have a different or higher expectation of peace, e.g. shift workers or people who are studying or ill.

How will my complaint be investigated?

We will try to resolve your complaint informally.  After discussing the issues with the complainant, the alleged perpetrator will be advised, usually by letter, that a complaint has been received.  They will be made aware of the legal powers available to the Council if they cause a statutory noise nuisance. At the same time, we will send written confirmation, preferably by email,  of your complaint and a diary sheet so you can keep a  record of  noise disturbance from your neighbour’s premises over a period of at least 2-3 weeks.  If you can’t keep a record, please let us know as soon as possible.  We will then try to assist in finding another way to gather the necessary details.  If the diary sheets are not provided  the case will be closed.

Your details will be kept confidential.  However, if the case progresses  it may be necessary to attend any subsequent court hearings . 

On receipt of diary sheets an officer will assess them and decide if the noise could be considered as a statutory nuisance. If so, we will contact you to discuss the next steps. These could include visits to your property,  the installation of noise monitoring equipment and/or being registered with and given access to our weekend out of hours noise service.

If we feel the noise is unlikely to constitute a statutory nuisance, we will contact you to explain why before closing the case.

If after a thorough investigation no statutory nuisance is substantiated we will contact you, explain our findings and close the case.   

If a statutory nuisance is proved to exist, we will serve a noise abatement notice on the offender.  If noise continues, and we have enough evidence, we can initiate a prosecution and, in some cases, seize the noise making equipment. The maximum penalty on summary conviction for breach of a notice is £5000 relating to domestic premises and an unlimited fine for commercial premises.

You can also take your own action through using Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act. More detail is at the link below.

Report a Noise Problem »

You can also contact us by email at envhealth@dover.gov.uk

If noise is occurring outside of office hours you can report it on 01304 821199. If you are registered with the out of hours noise service, and the noise is occurring within the following times

8pm on a Friday evening until 3am on a Saturday morning

8pm on a Saturday evening until 3am on a Sunday morning.

Sundays,  if the following day is a Public Holiday, from 8pm until 3am on Monday morning.

the matter will get passed to the Duty Noise Officer who will contact you with a view to visiting to witness the noise.

You must be registered to use the service. Officers will also deal with noise  issues if 3 independent calls are received regarding the matter.

 If you are not registered and/or call outside of these hours your details will be passed to the Environmental Protection & Crime Team and an officer will contact you during working hours.

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