Report a noise nuisance issue, legal powers, anonymous reports, avoid causing a noise nuisance, intruder alarms and noise assessments.
The most common domestic noise problems are caused by loud music or television, barking dogs, shouting, banging doors and DIY activities. If noise is causing regular and unreasonable disturbance to you, it may amount to a statutory nuisance or anti-social behaviour.
Firstly, you should try resolving your complaint by talking to your neighbour to make them aware of the problem. An informal approach is usually preferable, as your neighbour may not be aware that they are causing a problem, and involving the council can sometimes damage your relations with them. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to them directly, or have already tried unsuccessfully, we have provided an example template letter which you can amend for your situation and give to them. It may also be useful to start keeping a diary of the dates and times of the noise nuisance, a description of the noise and the way it affects you.
Neighbour noise letter (25kb)
Read more about controlling noise from barking dogs or how to report barking dogs to the council.
Noise is simply defined as unwanted sound. It can therefore be very subjective, and affect people differently. Noise is a common source of annoyance and for some people it can be very upsetting. Remember, no home is totally soundproof - everyone can expect a certain amount of noise from their neighbours. The most common reasons for being disturbed by noise from neighbours are:
When trying to resolve a noise problem informally, keep a copy of any letters you send and keep a record of any further conversations you have.
If we investigate a noise complaint and are satisfied it is anti-social or a statutory nuisance, the council can issue a formal notice on the person or business responsible, to get them to stop the nuisance or behaviour within a given amount of time.
It is an offence if a person does not comply with a notice, and anyone found guilty can be served with a fixed penalty or prosecuted and fined.
Any costs incurred by the council where a notice has not been complied with, will be recharged to the person who was issued with the notice. This includes silencing a misfiring intruder alarm where a key-holder cannot be found.
Additionally, the council has powers to obtain a warrant and seize noise making equipment eg. music systems and TVs.
Legal powers to deal with noise are covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. Powers to deal with noise nuisance from vehicles, machinery and equipment in the street are also available in the Noise and Statutory Nuisance Act 1993.
To be considered a statutory nuisance, the noise has to be serious enough to be interfering substantially with your well-being, or comfort and enjoyment of your property. This may include certain types of noise.
Read more about statutory nuisance laws on the government's Legislation website.
To be considered anti-social behaviour, the noise has to be having a detrimental effect, of a persistant or continuing nature, on the quality of life of those in the neighbourhood. You can read more about how the council deals with anti-social behaviour.
Read more about anti-social behaviour laws on the government's Legislation website.
You can also view a copy of the council's enforcement policy.
If you complain to the council about noise you can expect a response within 24 hours for an emergency and 10 working days for a non-urgent complaint.
At first, the person alleged to be causing the noise will be notified that a complaint has been made about them. The complainant's detail will be kept confidential. However, they may be required to provide a statement of witness or attend court should there be a prosecution, and their details may become public at that stage.
The complainant will be required to complete a diary to provide more information about the noise and when it occurs. This is important to allow the council to target its resources effectively and prioritise cases, and to decide whether or not to use noise recording equipment. Failure to return a completed diary can therefore jeopardise the investigation of a case.
In order to determine if the noise amounts to a statutory nuisance, we will try to gather first hand evidence of the noise. This may be by visiting at a time when the noise is likely to occur or by installing recording equipment. The council is expected to take reasonable steps to investigate a complaint. For most complaints this would mean three visits or separate installations of recording equipment. If by then we have not gathered sufficient evidence to determine a statutory nuisance, we will normally close the case and advise the complainant of their options for taking their own private action.
It is difficult to define what will amount to a nuisance, as each case will be different. Therefore there cannot be a set noise level that is applicable to every case. Where a relevant standard exists to enable a noise to be measured objectively it will be used. We will consider the following issues when determining a case:
If it has been decided that a nuisance does exist, the council is under a duty to serve an abatement notice on the person(s) responsible. Failure to comply with the requirements of a notice is an offence. The council does not however have a duty to prosecute, and where appropriate, we may consider use of other powers such as the seizure of equipment.
The same procedures normally apply for investigating a noise nuisance from commercial, industrial and agricultural premises, as they do for domestic noise complaints. Depending on the type of premises we may contact the council’s licensing section or planning enforcement section as part of our investigation. Some large industrial and waste facilities may also have an environmental permit which can include conditions to control noise pollution, and these are enforced by either the Environment Agency or the council.
Specific guidance for farmers on the use of bird scarers is available from the National Farmers Union website.
Construction and demolition works are usually noisy and can take place in areas which are normally quiet and clean. Although the work may not last long, the disturbance caused by noise and other issues may lead to problems for people who live and work near the site. The council often receives complaints from people about disturbance of this nature.
It is in everyone’s interests to try to foresee any problems which could arise and plan ways to avoid them. Contractors should obtain a copy of British Standards 5228:2009 which is a Code of Practice containing information and procedures for noise control on construction and open sites.
The following suggestions can help reduce the likelihood of noise disturbance:
The following are examples of sources of noise that the council will not usually be able to investigate.
This includes all types of civil passenger carrying aircraft, private pleasure aircraft, helicopters, microlites and crop-spraying aircraft which are registered in the UK. Wherever possible, details of time, place, type of aircraft and registration marks should be given to enable the investigating authority to complete its enquiries as quickly as possible.
Civil aviation authority - aircraft noise website
Department for transport - aviation and airports website
British microlite aircraft association website
British helicopter association website
If the aircraft is known to originate from a local air base, the initial complaint should be directed to the base commanding officer. If this does resolve the issue, then complaints relating to military air traffic may be directed to the Royal Air Force.
Royal Air Force - low flying aircraft and complaints website
We cannot usually investigate anonymous complaints.
To prove noise is a statutory nuisance or anti-social behaviour, the council will need to investigate the problem at the complainant’s property. When carrying out visits, we will be as discreet as is reasonably practicable, and we will keep your details confidential, in accordance with our data protection policy. However, the complainant will be expected to keep a diary of noise problems suffered and to provide a statement of witness or attend court should formal action be necessary.
In some cases the council may not be able to get sufficient evidence to be able to take any action on your behalf. In such cases, you can take private action by complaining directly to the magistrates’ court. This is a simple process and need not cost much. You do not need to employ a solicitor but it is advisable to seek some legal advice prior to taking such action.
It is possible that even after several visits to your property to witness the noise nuisance, the coucil is not able to pursue the matter for you. This may be because having heard the noise, our officers may not feel that the noise would represent a nuisance to the “average person”. For example, the noise may be during the day but disturbs you because you are a shift worker trying to sleep during the day. Alternatively, it may be that the random and intermittent nature of the noise means that our officers were not able to visit when the noise occurred and were therefore unable to confirm that it constituted a nuisance.
You may therefore decide to take legal action yourself to resolve the problem. Under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 you are entitled to complain directly to the Magistrates’ Court. If the court is satisfied that a nuisance exists or has occurred and is likely to recur, it will make an order requiring the defendant to abate the nuisance and/or prevent its recurrence. The court may also impose a fine.
If you decide to complain to the Magistrates’ Court, you MUST give your neighbour at least three days’ notice of your intention to do so. The letter must be in writing and give details of your complaint. Remember to date the letter and to keep a copy of it.
The next step is to contact the Clerk to the Magistrates’ Court. The Clerk will then advise you what to do. You may wish to do this yourself or you may engage a solicitor to do this for you. However, you should remember that a solicitor may make a charge for his services.
If you win the court case, you may still have to keep a record of any nuisance caused by your neighbour in case further legal action becomes necessary. Should you lose the case, you may have to pay some of the costs incurred by your neighbour in coming to court.
Read the current building regulations for sound insulation on the Planning Portal website.
Useful advice on improving sound insulation in the home is also available from the Building Research Establishment website.
If you are proposing a potentially noisy development such as an industrial site or certain leisure activities near to noise sensitive buildings, such as homes or schools, then you may need to carry out a noise assessment as part of your application. Similarly, if you are proposing a noise sensitive development near to an existing source of noise, this will also need to be assessed.
The National Planning Policy Framework requires planning policies and decisions to:
Read more about the National Planning Policy Framework on the GOV.uk website.
There is also National Planning Practice Guidance on the GOV.uk website.
You are advised to seek specialist advice from a noise consultant when preparing a planning application which could fall into the above scenarios. More information on noise consultants and noise assessments can be found on the Institute of Acoustics website and the Association of Noise Consultants website.
Defra have produced useful guidance on resolving problems with barking dogs.
Defra advice on barking dogs (64kb)
Cockerels have the potential to cause noise nuisance, particularly when they are kept near built-up areas. If you own a cockerel there are a few steps that can be followed to help minimise crowing and disturbing your neighbours.
Alarms should be fitted with an automatic cut-off device, so that they stop ringing after 20 minutes. However, they can often misfire and are a common cause of noise complaints.
It is a good idea to make sure that a neighbour or someone close by has access to your property and can deactivate the alarm (ie. a keyholder) in the event your alarm misfires while you are away. This will avoid the need for the council to take formal action to silence an alarm if it is causing a statutory noise nuisance. In such cases the council can recharge the cost incurred to the homeowner.
You can register keyholder details online, so that we have alternative contact details if you are not available, should we receive a complaint about your alarm going off. You do not need to tell us the deactivation code, or provide a key, just the details of someone who has them.
There is currently no licensing or registration scheme for street performers in the East Riding. However, if you intend to play live amplified music you may require a temporary events notice from the Licensing Team.