It is quite easy to get carried away when you’re having a house party and many of us may not think twice about turning up the volume of our music as it gets into full swing. However, persistent and intrusive noise can have a negative impact on a neighbourhood and the health of your neighbours which you may not have realised. While you may not think that you are doing any harm, those late night parties could be a real headache for your neighbours and also your landlord.
Excessive noise, particularly at night, is one of the most common complaints that landlords receive in relation to anti-social behaviour. It is not just loud music that is the culprit of such complaints, but shouting, banging and noisy pets are also increasingly common problems.
The Noise Act 1996 (as amended by the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003) provides some guidance to Local Authorities to tackle noise nuisance. Local Authorities can issue perpetrators with warning notices where there are repeated instances of excessive noise. Breaching a warning notice is an offence which can be punishable by fines of up to £5,000 for individuals.
Another option available to Local Authorities and Landlords is to apply to the Civil Court for an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction for repeat offenders.
A Court can grant an Injunction if it is satisfied that on the balance of probabilities the perpetrator has engaged or threatened to engage in anti-social behaviour. Playing excessively loud music meets the definition of such behaviour.
Under the new civil Injunctions which are due to come into force any time now, the Civil Court will be able to attach terms to either limit the level of unreasonable noise or restrict the times when the noise may be made. This is known as the ‘positive requirement’ provision and is designed to reduce any re-offending behaviour.
Unlike before, the Civil Court will also be able to grant an Injunction against children aged between 10 and 18 if it is satisfied that they have displayed anti-social behaviour. This means that it may be possible for every member of a household to be made the subject of an Injunction if they have contributed to noise nuisance at the property. As it currently stands, anyone who is found to have breached an Injunction can be sent to prison for up to two years.
The new Injunction can also be used against home owners and tenants of private rented accommodation and not just against social housing tenants. It will be open to a wider range of agencies including the Chief Officer of Police and the Environment Agency to apply for the Injunction, which suggests that they may become a lot more common in the future.
So you may want to think twice next time you decide to let that party carry on into the early hours in the morning or buy your child that drum kit that they have wanted for so long. What you may think is harmless noise could be considered by a Court to be anti-social behaviour.
Legal aid is available for anyone who passes the financial means assessment given the seriousness of an Injunction and the consequences if one is breached. If you receive any papers from the Court which refers to an Anti-Social Behaviour Injunction you should seek legal advice from an expert at Stephensons immediately.
By Ria Stevens - Solicitor in the Housing team
If you do need any help then contact 01942 774912. For urgent out of hours court assistance, please call our 24 hour number on 07836 574607 and if necessary hearings will be dealt with.