As many people will agree their home is a peaceful and quiet escape from the chaos of everyday life. That is until your not-so-considerate neighbour’s deafening music, incessant shouting and vulgar behaviour breaches that tranquillity, causing you and your family to face many sleepless nights.
A study by MORI (Market and Opinion Research International) for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs found that one in three people in Britain found noisy neighbours to be a problem.
Excessive noise can adversely affect your health and reduce your quality of life. While the epidemic of noisy neighbours is not an uncommon one, many people do not know where to turn when they are victims of noise nuisance often pushing them to resort to extreme measures in an attempt to resolve the issue.
This was certainly proved to be the case in a recently reported incident of noise nuisance in Peterborough. A woman had been regularly subjected to anti-social behaviour from her neighbours, having to endure loud parties held until 5am and regular banging on her walls which often kept her baby son up all night.
The young mother had reported the incidents of noise nuisance to the Police yet claimed that no investigations had been carried out. This behaviour continued until her father had reached the end of his tether and resorted to driving his 4x4 Jeep into the house of the noisy neighbour causing a reported £14,000 worth of damage. He later pleaded guilty to affray, criminal damage and dangerous driving.
The harsh reality is that many victims of noise nuisance will have had similar feelings towards their neighbours. However, had the father been aware of the law surrounding noise nuisance, he may not have resorted to such drastic and dangerous measures.
If you are experiencing a noise nuisance issue:
- Try speaking to your neighbour.
As simple as it sounds, a polite conversation can often work wonders when your neighbour is unaware that you are suffering as a result of their behaviour.
- If your neighbour is a tenant, you could contact their landlord.
The vast majority of tenancy agreements will contain a clause which provides that if there are any instances of anti-social behaviour by the tenant – whether actual or perceived, it will be treated as a breach of the agreement and action may be taken to evict them.
- Contact the Police if your neighbour is being violent or harassing you.
- If a conciliatory discussion is not effective, you should contact your local authority.
Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, your local authority’s environmental health department must take all reasonable steps to investigate complaints of noise nuisance. An Environmental Health Officer may install specialist noise monitoring equipment in your home and if the persistence of the noise and the decibel level is perceived to constitute statutory noise nuisance, your local authority can issue a notice requiring your neighbour to stop the noise. If your neighbour fails to abide by the notice without reasonable excuse, they can be prosecuted and the noise-making equipment confiscated.
- Where all else has failed, and then only where the noise nuisance unbearable, should you consider court proceedings as a last resort.
Bringing a claim in noise nuisance against your neighbour is no easy feat. You would essentially be seeking an injunction against your neighbour to stop their noisy behaviour and perhaps damages for the loss of enjoyment of your property.
You must bear in mind that after the proceedings are concluded, whether successful or not, you still continue to live in close proximity to your neighbour. Bringing a claim against your neighbour can cause increased tension between you often resulting in an irretrievable break down of your neighbourly relationship. Whilst the noise nuisance issue is resolved, the animosity may still be there.
By Sam Molyneaux, Graduate paralegal in the Dispute Resolution team
If you are subject to noise nuisance and are unsure where to turn, please feel free to contact our dispute resolution or neighbour dispute teams for advice.