Noise nuisance

Taking action against loud noises

Residents have the right to enjoy life in their own way in their own home, providing they act within the law and do not interfere with the rights of others.

A loud noise or noise nuisance must be persistent, regular and likely to interfere with the reasonable enjoyment of your home to be classed as a nuisance.

We will investigate all complaints about excessive noise but we can only take action if the noise is considered to be a statutory nuisance.

What is a statutory nuisance?

There is no simple definition of 'statutory nuisance' under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and no legally defined limits on acceptable times, durations or noise levels.

Statutory nuisance is something that materially impacts on your day to day living, for example you can't sit in the garden or hang out washing due to the smoke and ash from a bonfire or you can't sleep at night because of constant music noise next door.

A statutory noise nuisance is a nuisance at any time of day or night under the EPA.

A council officer must witness a statutory noise nuisance or a breach of notice in order to take further enforcement action. This requires officers to enter resident's homes to witness the impact.

Guidance on statutory noise nuisance:

  • a 'one-off' event can be regarded as a statutory nuisance if it is witnessed by council officers
  • the council (and ultimately the criminal court) has to be satisfied that the problem is an unreasonable and substantial interference with the use and enjoyment of property

Before reporting noise to the council

Before you report the noise to us, you should:

  • talk to your neighbours to find out if they're affected as well
  • talk to the person causing the problem, they may not realise how it is affecting you and you may be able to reach a compromise by taking this simple action. However, it would be wise to consider what reaction you are likely to get from this approach. If your neighbour reacts aggressively, do not persist and put yourself at risk
  • if you are a private tenant, contact your landlord or residents' association

We have created a document on resolving nuisance problems [540KB] , which includes advice on taking your own legal action.

Before you contact us, you need to have sufficient evidence to support your report, so that it can be investigated and proven. We recommend keeping a 2 week diary of any noise nuisance, to include date, time, type of noise, volume, duration and the impact.

What can we investigate?

We can investigate:

  • animal noise
  • building alarm noise
  • car repair noise
  • DIY noise
  • music noise
  • vehicle alarm noise

We cannot investigate domestic noises such as:

  • voices
  • washing machines
  • kitchen equipment
  • doors closing
  • toilets flushing

These are not enforceable against by law. We have no power to make people change their behaviour in these respects. Where students houses are causing the problem due to late hours being kept, we can offer advice and will liaise with the university to assist student households integrate with the local community.

Page last updated: 29 Jun 2020