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noisy neighbours

How should I deal with noisy neighbours?

Unless you live in splendid rural isolation, neighbours are part of life in this crowded isle. People are more likely to have disputes with their neighbours than anyone else, and of those disputes the most common cause is noise. Noisy neighbours can make many people’s homes feel uninhabitable. Legal redress is available, but should be treated as a last resort.

Do you have noisy neighbours? Become a member of HomeOwners Alliance and speak to our friendly HomeHelpline for guidance on the next steps

Talk to your neighbours

It sounds like a cliché, but it’s usually good to talk to your neighbours. One in three people have found that this has solved any problems immediately. Surprisingly often, people do not even realise they are being annoying and few people are totally uncaring about those around them; most are just unaware.

When?

It’s all about timing. For example, it may well be counterproductive to approach them in the middle of a party when they are drunk. It might be better to catch them in a public area and talking to them there, or over the garden fence, instead of awkwardly knocking on their door.

How?

  • With most people, being calm and reasonable gets better results than being confrontational. You have the moral high ground; make sure you keep it.
  • When you approach them, it is a good idea to have three examples of when they were excessively noisy to hand, complete with dates. Tell them too how the noise affected you, but don’t be accusatory. Rather than saying, “you kept me awake”, tell them, “I could not sleep because of the noise that night.”
  • You should also specifically tell them how you would like the problem solved. For example, you might ask them not to practice on their drums after 10pm, or you might ask that next time they have a big party they give you some forewarning so you can make other plans accordingly
  • If you feel unsafe you should approach your neighbours with a friend or family member

Get the council involved

  • If you have talked to your neighbour and they are still making noise you might consider getting the local authority involved. Be aware that getting the council involved will raise tensions and the dispute might get out of proportion because your neighbours could ultimately end up in court. You should also be aware that any official noisy neighbour complaints will go on record and may make it harder for you to sell your house
  • After you complain the council will send your neighbour a letter telling them that people have complained. They will not say who has complained.
  • At the same time, you will be asked to fill out a “noise diary” which logs the time and place you heard the noise and from where it came. Most importantly, the council wants to see how the noise is affecting you. The council will use your noise diary to establish a method of investigating. This might depend on you phoning somebody up who will come round to hear the noise or they might install noise monitoring equipment
  • If the noise does not stop after they have warned your neighbours, then the council might suggest mediation (see below). If that does not work, or if the council decides mediation is not a constructive route forward, they might take other, official, action
  • If the council agrees with you, and the noise is a deemed a “statutory nuisance” (ie that it is a nuisance under law), they can issue an “abatement notice” which tells your neighbour that unless they stop they will be prosecuted and might end up with a fine of £5,000 for domestic premises and £20,000 for industrial or commercial premises. If the council follows this process, it can take some time, because the council has to establish how much of a nuisance your neighbours are being without living with you all the time

Taking part in mediation

Why?

If you have already talked to your neighbours and nothing you say seems to work, the council might recommend mediation. Mediation might also be a good choice if you have completely fallen out with your neighbours or if you are in other disputes with them

What?

  • A professionally trained mediator will set up a meeting with you and your neighbour
  • The meeting will often be at a neutral location
  • The aim is to help your neighbour understand your point of view, and vice versa
  • Mediators will also suggest specific compromises and ways to remedy the problem
  • Mediation is government funded but does not involve the law
  • Mediation is free, and is often successful
  • However, it is voluntary so your neighbour will have to want to go

Taking your neighbour to court

  • If the council decides not to intervene you can take your neighbours to court
  • You must have tried to deal with the problem in all other ways before doing this
  • If you decide you would like to take your neighbours to court you should seek legal advice from a lawyer
  • Become a member of the HomeOwners Alliance and speak our legal advice line about your noisy neighbour problem

Leaseholders

If the neighbour is a leaseholder, they may well be in breach of a clause in their lease about not disturbing neighbours with noise. If you are in a flat, and it is the floorboards that are the problem, check the lease because there may be a clause that says that suitable floor covering must be in place.

Some leases say that the leaseholders must not make noise audible outside their property at certain times (such as between 11pm and 7am). Leases sometimes also ban pets (if it is a barking dog that is the problem) and musical instruments.

If you complain to the freeholder (from whom the leaseholder leases the property), they can issue a warning or start legal proceedings against the leaseholder for breaching their lease. Because they could potentially lose their property, this can be a very effective way of making your neighbours take noise seriously

For tailored answers to your questions or if you would like legal advice, become a member of the HomeOwners Alliance today


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15 Comments

  1. Hi Cloe,
    Is the elderly person housed by the Council or under a particular social or community care housing scheme? If so you could enquire with them regards a mediation route especially as there may be issues connected with his hearing or state of mind. You may also wish to contact the local disability rights group or branch of Age Concern to see if their advice and advocacy teams could assist in getting you on a path to resolution of matters. If you became a member of HOA you would have access to the legal advice to sound out your legal options.

    Hope this is helpful,

    Sophie
    HomeOwners Alliance Team

    Comment by Sophie Khan — September 13, 2017 @ 3:01 pm

  2. Hi hoa
    I’m a leaseholder, I used to live in my flat, but I now live abroad and have left my flat to rent for a few years now.
    The old man who was living above us at the time seems to be getting senile fast, he shouts at any time day and night, listens to extremely loud TV until very late, and moves furniture etc from 6 every mornings.
    My tenants cannot sleep, even earplugs aren’t efficient, they wrote a letter to him, he didn’t reply, they knocked at his door, he never opens, they eventually banged to the ceiling and he came down yelling at them, banging on their door, shouting that his tv wasn’t loud and that he would call the police for harassment…
    My tenants just told me they are now considering moving out.

    What can I do: if the leave I will have the issue with next tenants.
    It’s tricky to ask them to go into a mediation process (+ the poor old man seems a bit mad)
    I am even considering selling, but this is not satisfactory as I would be selling a flat with a real issue which is not right.
    Can I start a procedure of mediation or court myself from abroad on behalf of my tenants?
    Thank you for your help.

    Comment by Cloe — August 6, 2017 @ 12:46 am

  3. Dear P Sofocleous,

    In this instance do try to remain calm and amicable to address the issues. I imagine you know the freeholder and have regular communication so could raise your concerns directly or through a mediator or leaseholders association / spokesperson? Keeping up a positive relationship is key. Keep us posted.

    Best wishes,
    Sophie
    HomeOwners Alliance

    Comment by Sophie Khan — June 21, 2017 @ 1:16 pm

  4. I am the leaseholder but my noisy neighbour is my tenant who is also my freeholder. If I complain does that mean I could lose my property?

    Comment by Ms P Sofocleous — June 17, 2017 @ 10:40 am

  5. Dear Steve,

    Do keep a noise diary and have you involved the Council? They may be able to issue a warning or try mediation between you, and guide you as to best steps to take.

    All the best and do get in touch again or consider joining if you’d like us to support you with this.

    many thanks,

    Sophie
    HomeOwners Alliance

    Comment by Sophie Khan — May 24, 2017 @ 10:58 am

  6. Hi the last few nights we have had our neighbours making so much noise from around 10pm untill 4am. Banging around, banging doors, running around, talking loudly, and a kid who sounds about 4 or 5 being up all night screaming or having tantrums. They also have the windows open so its echoing even more making sleep impossible…It is a council house and today we told them that if it continued we would report them to the council, and now its happening again.
    Ive decided to start making a recording and will be emailing the council in the morning depending how bad it gets tonight… Does anyone have any advice they could possibly give??

    Comment by steve — May 22, 2017 @ 10:30 pm

  7. Hi I am looking for some legal advice. I had a new neighbour move in over a ago and i soon noticed my sleeping pattern was changing. For a while i did not think why that was the case , just thought one of those things. Some mornings i was waking up at 7.10am but not all mornings. Anyway after a while i discovered my upstairs neighbour was waking up at this time to go to work. So something woke me up and from then till she went to work say 30 minutes , i could hear above her moving around. I think herd of elephants spring to mind. During the evening i could hear noise too from someone rushing around and weekend too when she not at work. After a while when a friernd came round and wondered what was going on upstairs , i decided to have an informal chat with someone from my housing. (I live in Housing Association flat) I was advised to speak directly to her as she will be unaware of the noise this is creating most likely. I did not want any confrontation and it was suggested to take some chocolates to make it as friendly as can be. We have briefly chatted before but not too much. I was bit nervous to approach her but i knocked on her door and she was surprised but also very sorry too. I explained she had no reason to be sorry. I also mentioned sometimes her cupboards make a large bang and she was aware of that and was trying to sort that out. For me it was the being woken up in the morning that was affecting me. She was sorry and said she will do her best in future and the chat went as well as it could. I got back to housing a couple of weeks later and said the neighbour was very nice about all of this but for me the problem of waking up due to some noise still there. I asked Housing if they could do anything regarding the structure of the flat and flooring. The flats are about 60 years old. Maybe exttra underlay or something. The housing lady said she will speak to her housing manager and he will get back to me. A couple of weeks went by so i rang the housing and met a housing officer who had been designated my situation and he said he was going to contact me anyway this morning. We had a good chat and again i asked if anything housing can do with the flat. It seems nothing would be possible. He again asked me to speak with neighbour and i did so later in the day. I explained that the cupboard banging noise much better but i still had problems being awaken and i included other times of 6.30am. She said she has partner staying there most nights and will have a word with him. She also was againg very sorry i am being woken up and said she will do more. I said i may have a word with housing about the flooring ( i did not mention my previous contact) and she was fine with that. We both agreed no need for any bad from this as we both respected each other situations. To her she is just living normal but without the knowledge how much noise can be generated even from walking quickly around the flat. I told housing and they said monitor situation. For me i am concerned nothing will be change and i want to know what legal requirements if any do Housing Association in regards of the flooring. It seems trivial but does actually affect my sleep now really badly and i have long term health problems (something i not told my neighbour of) Thanks Peter

    Comment by peter — March 16, 2017 @ 11:51 am

  8. Around a year ago my upstairs neighbour moved in above me. I was waking up around 7.15 amost mornings but did not know why. Just thought was one of those things. Anyway after a while i realised it was time she was waking up some days of the week. So after the initial awakening it was also very noisy above as she was getting ready for work and therefore rushing around. Think the saying is like a herd of elephants up there. After a few months i decided to talk my housing association just for advice what to do. They suggested speak with her and explain my concerns. They also suggested to take some chocolates with to make it more comfortable. I did speak to her and all was fine. She was sorry about the noise as did not realise and i explained she had no reason to be sorry just become aware. There was also noise coming from banging cupboards but she was aware of this and was trying to sort that matter out. So the chat was amicable. I went back to Housing to explain of the chat and i said i am still being awakened at similar time , however the banging cupboard situation has been resolved. I also asked if anything can be done regarding the flooring as i should not be hearing such noises when she walking about in her flat. Housing said not sure what can be done there and they said leave it a while. Anyway i gave it a few weeks and i approached neighbour again. Again she was so apologetic that i was still being woken up and also explained she has partner living with her a few times in the week which explains him getting up sometimes at 6.30am. I spoke to hosing manager who again said see how it goes. I believe my neighbour is doing all that she can as she is entitled to walk about in her flat. I am trying to find out what legal requirements the Housing Association have regarding flooring , floorboards etc. This is so important to me as my sleep is being effected and there is nothing more ,my neighbour can do i believe.. Your advice be helpful. Thanks. Peter

    Comment by Peter — March 16, 2017 @ 11:14 am

  9. Dear Lewis,

    Have you looked into the type of tenancy they have and whether there may be a way to escalate an issue through this route and perhaps they may then be open to the option of mediation? We would be happy to look into this further for you so please do consider becoming a member: Become a member of the HomeOwners Alliance for £45. Your membership entitles you to unlimited calls to the HomeHelpline, we provide an ask an expert service and you would also benefit from a free call with a legal advisor which may be useful to you in the future with this matter.

    Best wishes,

    Sophie
    HomeOwners Alliance

    Comment by Sophie Khan — March 15, 2017 @ 3:36 pm

  10. Hi,

    My neighbours have a 17 year old 6ft sevearly disabled son. All he does is bang and jump up and down and howl he goes most nights uptill 11pm it’s all day constant banging and really lOud banging and howling. We own our house. We haves lived here for 1 year now and he’s got worse.
    Our biggest bedroom is non usable due to him being the other side.

    We have tried mediation and the mum just didn’t want to know.

    The son is called Charlie.
    He has autism ADHD and several other illness.
    They don’t have curtains up at his window either due to him ripping/eating them. We hear him everywhere in the house.

    the noise is so loud me and my partner don’t sleep and it’s got to the point where we get really angry with the noise as our quality of life is ruined. He should be in a care home he has no sensory things in his bedroom he just jumps and
    Bangs howls. He gets put in his room from 5:30pm till he drops to sleep and bang up at 6pm howling

    We need urgent help with this.

    Comment by Lewis — March 14, 2017 @ 10:43 pm

  11. What does one do when you have reported to the likes of Lambeth Council over three years, they have attended many dozens of times in the three years at about three or four in the mourning but it is later you realise the council does not want to act as the council does not want to be seen to social clense.

    Comment by Emma — January 27, 2017 @ 6:52 pm

  12. you seem to be talking about excessive problems ,most people have neighbor noise where one neighbour decides they will play their loud music which can be heard across the innocent parties house and it has to be suffered accordingly. Most homes are not built to suffer loud music without intruding on their neighbours homes / privacy through the party wall and this annoying at any time of the day or late evening especially using the power systems of today . These neighbours who play their music get very upset when any form of complaint or retaliation takes place and the general opinion is that the local council can do nothing unless the position is chronic and even they fail .Why should we negotiate with a neighour who clearly is out to be a trouble maker and the takes a chance to gain a position by force. Any decent neighbour would stop when they understood the trouble they were causing but the bad neighbour is little better than a criminal knowing that it is going to take some kind of legal action to make them back off

    Comment by knight — January 2, 2017 @ 10:24 pm

  13. Hi we have new neighbours move in 2 years ago, at first they were great and fairly quiet but now they keep coming in from the local working mans club every week and sometimes in the week bringing family and friends in talking loud until 2 in the morning.
    The house is very poor and the deviding wall is useless also they keep banging doors all the time. I have tried speaking to them but got know where infact things seem to be worse. They are private and we are council tennents and our landlord wont do anything about it.

    Comment by Paul — December 31, 2016 @ 3:17 pm

  14. Yes we seem to have an impossible situation with our neighbours too. We moved into our house in 2009 and have had a constant battle with them to keep the noise down during the night. Pretty soon after moving into our terraced house we were hearing the noise from all night parties. We had no wish to conflict over it but it was unbearable. We approached the neighbour and let her know that we work hard and when we’re off work we like to relax and have peace and quiet at night. She agreed and said that she didn’t make a lot of noise (Yeah right!). As she wasn’t working she seemed to have people around all night at least 3 times a week. We found out that she was renting and reported the problem to her letting agency. They wrote to her with little affect. We decided to up the ante and report it to the council. A game ensued where they’d open an investigation and she was quiet. As soon as the investigation closed the all night noise started again. A boyfriend moved in and decided it would be clever to start harassing us to stop us complaining. Firstly our house was broken into while we were on holiday but nothing was damaged or taken. The police attended and said they thought it was more an act of antisocial behaviour more than a break in. They said to call them next time there was significant noise. It wasn’t long before we were sitting up at 3 O’clock in the morning listening to music and people shouting and screaming. We got the Police out and they went in and asked the neighbours to keep the noise down (That’s as much as they can do). The neighbours ignored them and continued until 10 O’clock. Just before they decided to go to bed the boyfriend thumped our door and screamed threats through the letter box. We got the Police out again and they advised us not to escalate the situation. The next few weeks the harassment got worse and there was spitting at us and thumping walls amongst other things. The Police went and warned him and it stopped. The noise stopped too for a few months and then started up again. We called the Police on 101 in the early hours and they told us to go to environmental protection at our local council. We’d been there before with little success. On two occasions the night noise team came out and listened. They said the noise was very clear but as it was only loud talking and shouting they couldn’t really do anything. they recommended that we should get insulation (which isn’t cheap). Basically unless there is booming music they don’t seem interested. Anyway it seems the only way to get out of this nightmare is to move house. I think in hindsight we should have hit them hard immediately. Initially there was loud music and we could have had a case but now as it’s shouting and loud talking through the night it’s much more difficult. Of course we didn’t want all this and didn’t want to hit them hard from the off.

    Comment by N.Weeks — January 5, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

  15. I am going through similar problem only that our houses are not lease hold and the council is probably unable take meaningful action against deliberate noise made to look like activities of daily living. Lockbird.blogspot.com.

    Comment by Bimi bol — January 1, 2014 @ 12:49 pm

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