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Domestic noise nuisance frequently asked questions

What other options are there other than enforcement?

There are several ways of dealing with your problem. Please consider each of the following options:

  • The person causing the problem may respond better to a polite word or a letter from you rather than an approach from a Council Official 
  • If the noise is coming from a property owned by Incommunities or another Housing provider action may be taken under the terms of the tenancy agreement. Contact your local Housing Office for further advice 
  • The Police are able to deal with certain types of neighbour problems such as those involving violence, public disorder or threatening behaviour 
  • If the behaviour of your neighbour is making you feel harassed, alarmed or distressed then contact the Anti-social Behaviour Team on 01274 376347

What noises are considered a nuisance?

We can take action for certain noises, such as:

  • amplified music or noise from radio, television or stereo 
  • noise from DIY activities at unreasonable times 
  • intruder alarms 
  • persistent dog barking

Please remember we are an enforcement agency and you have to live near to the person you are complaining about. If we take enforcement action, you will be required to give a witness statement and you could be asked to attend court to give evidence against the person you are complaining about. This is not meant to scare or deter you but we do need to make you aware of this from the beginning.

We are normally unable to take action in relation to general living noise such as:

  • footsteps 
  • flushing the toilet 
  • household appliances such as washing machines and vacuum cleaners
  • moving furniture 
  • general talking 
  • children playing or crying 
  • slamming doors 
  • shouting

What information will we require?

If you want us to deal with your complaint we will require you to complete a nuisance diary. This information is essential to gain sufficient evidence for us to investigate your complaint. If you have difficulty completing the diary or if you are disturbed frequently over several days please contact us for further advice.

If the evidence obtained shows there is a likelihood that a statutory nuisance may exist, your nuisance diary will be used to support any action taken by this Department. It is, therefore, essential that the information which you record is accurate and written at the time of the noise or shortly after.

Are there any time restrictions for the playing of music?

There are no periods of time when the playing of loud music is specifically allowed. If the noise is causing a nuisance to others then it is a nuisance regardless of the time of day, or day of the week.

Is there a noise level set in law?

There is no noise level set in Law. Noise is a subjective assessment; therefore loud music being played from a detached property is unlikely to cause a nuisance whereas the same level of music in a block of flats is likely to cause a nuisance. Environmental Health Officers are qualified and trained to assess whether a noise is likely to be a statutory nuisance. They are also authorised to take legal action to stop the statutory nuisance.

Are there any types of noise that the Council cannot deal with?

We can only take legal action in relation to statutory noise nuisances. We cannot normally take legal action, for example, in relation to transport noise. If you are not sure whether we can help, it’s best to contact us directly and we will advise you.
We are also unable to deal with many types of behavioural or lifestyle noise such as

  • noise from children playing 
  • people singing 
  • shouting 
  • slamming doors 
  • the normal use of appliances such as vacuum cleaners, washing machines or DIY tools

If you are suffering from any of these types of noise and you are a tenant then contact your landlord or housing association as they may be able to help.

If I have a noise problem, do I have to rely on the Council for help?

No. Anyone who believes that they are suffering from a statutory noise nuisance can take their own private civil action against the person causing the noise under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. To find out more contact a Solicitor or the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If I make a complaint are my details kept confidential?

Our policy is to keep the personal information that we have about you such as your name and address, confidential.

If you want us to resolve a statutory noise nuisance for you, and we need to take legal action to do it we may have to disclose your personal details. For example, if we serve a Noise Abatement Notice the person causing the noise nuisance will have a right to know who made the complaint if they decide to legally appeal against the noise abatement notice in court. Similarly, if a case goes to the Court you may be required to give evidence.

What about firework noise?

The law relating to fireworks is changed with the introduction of the Fireworks Act 2003. This placed new restrictions on the use of fireworks and came into effect in 2004. Other than this, there is no specific law to deal with noise nuisance caused by fireworks.

The ordinary noise nuisance laws are not applicable to firework noise as:

  • a 'nuisance in law' must be a continuous state of affairs. A firework event, held maybe once a year for an hour or so, is not ongoing
  • fireworks are often used to celebrate a significant cultural or religious ceremonies and this would be the view taken by any court in relation to fireworks used during such periods
  • it would be difficult to prove beyond all reasonable doubt (Nuisance law is criminal law) that any one event or person is solely causing the noise problem when there may be scores of similar events in the locality
  • Bradford covers a huge geographical area with thousands of buildings and gardens, to pinpoint which premises is hosting the event (in the dark) from an explosion occurring in the night sky and identifying the person responsible, which may be different from the owner even if access to the premises is nigh on impossible
  • by virtue of the cost of fireworks few firework events last long enough to allow our Officers to respond to complaints and gather the evidence we would need to take enforcement action.

Noise from construction sites

Construction sites are in the open and are often near existing residential accommodation. Residents will in general accept construction site noise but will complain if work starts early or finishes late or takes place on Saturday afternoon, Sundays or Bank Holidays. Complaints about construction noise can be investigated by Environmental Services staff.

Where can I get further information about noise, including noise nuisance?

A good starting point is the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) website.