We’ve all been there at some point in our lives. Trying to sleep while the next-door neighbour is either blasting out obscure trance records or fighting with their other half. For some people, it’s easy to forget that, in a lot of cases, it’s only one wall that separates our lives from each other. This article is here to help you know when and how to lodge a noise complaint.
It doesn’t take much to cause a disturbance, especially in the overpopulated world that we currently live in. General noise is usually tolerated by most people. It’s par for the course as a renter, isn’t it? Some noisy neighbours, however, really know how to push the envelope. I am currently writing this article whilst recovering from my own noisy neighbour and, let me tell you, there is nothing quite like reggaeton beat at 5 in the morning to inspire creative writing!
This article will help you to understand how best to deal with your own noisy neighbours in a calm and legal way. Things have changed over the years, meaning you are not able to rely on local police to put an end to it. Lodging a noise complaint can sadly take time. Let’s go through all the options in detail to make sure you don’t lose too much sleep as a result of your neighbours hitting that repeat button on the latest Sean Mendez single.
How to Avoid a Noisy Neighbour
Sometimes it’s unavoidable. When you’re looking for your next rental home it’s hard to tell what kind of neighbours you will have. It’s not like you can just chap the door and ask if they have a proclivity for late-night drunken dance-offs! The next thing to do is check out what points of interest are in the area. This can give you a good idea of what kind of people are living around there and you can make your own judgment call from there.
Is The House or Flat Near A University?
Don’t let the stock image above fool you; the one demographic I would suggest you avoid is students. Most of us have been students at some point in our lives so it’s likely that the shoe has been on the other foot in past. We know how we spent our years at university, and they were probably not that quiet and considerate.
This is not to tar all students with the same brush. Having lived in a large university town for most of my life, I can say I have had some great rental experiences next door to students. However, I have also had some awful ones.
When looking for a new place to live just check if it’s a student populated area or if it’s near a university. You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle in the future. Ask your letting agent if they let to any other young professionals in the area. It might be worth knocking on their doors to see if they have any inside knowledge of where the students are and if there have been issues in the past.
What Type of Property is It?
Depending on your budget, it is important to look at the type of property you’re looking to rent out. As mentioned before, for a terraced house (such as my own) it’s only one wall that separates me from the onslaught of late-Monday-night fun that my neighbours enjoy so much.
Make sure to build this into your thinking when looking at places to live. Spend enough time in there to pick up the acoustics from the surrounding or adjoining buildings. Even if you only hear talking, that gives you a good indicator as to how loud a party or band practice (yep, even that’s a possibility) would be.
Is The Property Near a Music Venue or Popular Nightlife Spot?
Not all noise is domestic. Check to see if there are any music venues or popular pubs with outdoor areas. If there are and you are particularly sensitive to noise, then it may be best to look elsewhere. These businesses will likely have been trading in those areas for some time and will already be doing all they can to mitigate noise for their neighbours.
Although a lot of these venues will have orders to reduce noise from 11pm-7am, this does not mean silence during this time.
Remember, it is their livelihood at stake and lodging a noise complaint with a private business can be a lengthy process. It might be a different story if you own a house that has had a venue open next door but if the venue existed long before you came along, it’s probably best to let sleeping dogs lie.
What to Do Once You’ve Established You Have a Noisy Neighbour?
So, you’ve moved in, and you’re excited to start the next chapter of your life. Suddenly, you hear loud music start playing next door and it keeps getting louder and louder. Not only is it loud, it never, ever, stops.
What do you do? There are a few options that will apply depending on the situation.
Kill Them (Not Literally) With Kindness
If you feel that it is safe, go and knock on the door and speak to them. Sometimes people can just be a bit absent-minded of noise and are more than happy to turn it down/be a bit quieter for you. It could be the start of a good relationship with your neighbours.
Sometimes I have been in situations whereby we have shared numbers so that we can keep each other in the loop on noise complaints and many other neighbourly things.
I would advise that if the noise is caused by a drunken party, best leave it until the morning. Trying to talk sense into drunk people is pointless and may lead to more harm than it’s worth. Dig the ear muffs out and deal with it the next day.
Set Some Ground Rules
Meeting people in the middle can also be an option. If you are both reasonable households, there’s no sense in trying to enforce a strict no noise policy between you. Perhaps talking to each other and setting a ground-rule is the best option. An example of this could be “no music after 11pm or before 10am”.
Of course, this relies on both parties being reasonable and sticking to the rules. Things can devolve quickly once the rules are not upheld on both sides. See this article from The Spruce on How to Be a Good Neighbour for more ideas.
Calling Your Neighbours Landlord
When you move in, it might be advantageous to find out who the landlords are for the neighbouring properties. Sometimes your own landlord will have their details so it’s worth asking them.
The landlord is ultimately responsible for the property and could be liable for any fees incurred by a noise complaint. They could be a good voice of authority and, if the noise persists, could result in the occupants leaving the property.
If you have failed to reach an agreement using the above tactics. You may want to investigate mediation.
Mediation services will appoint an impartial person to help you and your neighbour reach an agreement. It can help to keep things calm and professional. There is a fee charged for this but it’s cheaper than a lawyer and you could see results faster than going to the council as I’ll explain in a minute.
There are some well-known, national mediation services but you can also search for mediators in your local area too.
Call The Police?
Traditionally, it was ok to call the local police on 101 and lodge a noise complaint. You can now only do this if the neighbour has threatened or harassed you. Best not to let it get to that stage!
Lodging a Noise Complaint with the Local Council
So, if you can’t call the police, how can you lodge a noise complaint and who with? Currently, there is no national law against any level of noise in the UK. However, you can lodge a noise complaint with your local council, this is known as a statutory nuisance.
The UK Government website states that statutory nuisance covers the following:
- noise (including loud music and barking dogs)
- artificial light (except streetlamps)
- dust, steam, smell or insects from business premises
- smoke, fumes or gases
- a build-up of rubbish that could harm health
It also states your local council has a “duty to investigate” any noise complaint. If the council see fit, they may put a noise abatement in place. This would mean there would be a local limit for noise around your property or the local area. If this is broken, fees can be up to £5,000.
The only risk with contacting the council is that it can take a long time to get your case resolved. Even when it is, there is no guarantee that you’ll get the resolution you feel you need. It is worth doing but just fair warning that you could be waiting a while…
So, we’ve established that there are many ways to silence (or at the very least, muffle) your noisy neighbour. If those don’t work, then lodging a noise complaint with the council or booking a mediator is most likely your best bet.
Try and be vigilant of the surrounding area and properties when you are looking for a place to live. Sometimes it can be so obvious that you are about to move into a noisy area. Do your research.
It is important that you do try and talk to your neighbours about the noise first. As mentioned above, most people are quite reasonable and may not realise just how loud they are being. For neighbours that persist despite a friendly conversation, there is no choice but to go that step further and lodge a noise complaint.
If you’re looking for your next rental property then Oasis Living can help. With 0% deposit for the tenants, help with managing bills and more, now couldn’t be a better time to switch to an online letting agency.
Once you’ve found your perfect, noise-free home. You can read our blog article on moving into your new home to help get you prepared for moving day.