North East Lincolnshire Council

Noise problems

Loud music/TV/parties

There is no time frame as to when a residential noise becomes a statutory nuisance. Some people believe they can play music and make noise until 11 pm. This isn’t true. A statutory nuisance is something that, under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, affects a person’s health or causes disturbance to them in their property.

A one off party would not be classed as a statutory nuisance.

Often, people are not aware of the issue they may be causing and a friendly chat with them usually works.

If the noise is a regular occurrence please see the information below on our web page advising you what action to take.

In the more serious cases, North East Lincolnshire Council can begin the prosecution process and if necessary, seize any equipment that has the potential to create noise.

Animal noise

Animals, by nature, make noise, from dogs barking to farmyard animals. Before contacting the council about a noisy animal, you should talk to your neighbour first, explaining how the noise is affecting you.

There are some animals that can cause a statutory nuisance and can be reported to the council such as dogs barking or cockerels and there are some that can’t be reported, such as wild animals/birds. Those who keep animals are usually very conscious about their animals and the noise they make. We advise you talk to you neighbour in the first instance.

If the noise nuisance is from a barking dog the Council cannot prevent a dog from barking – we can only work with the owner to reduce the noise. If this fails then we would consider further legal action but we would not remove the dog.

If you are concerned about any animals welfare please contact the RSPCA for further advice and guidance.

Domestic noise (shouting, slamming doors etc.)

From time to time you are bound to hear your neighbours from within your property. The important thing here is what kind of noise can you hear? Is it one person, multiple people and is it at different times or at the same time?

We find the most effective way is for you to have a chat with your neighbour, explaining you can hear them.

If you believe this may be a domestic abuse related incident and you have a genuine fear for the person (s) inside the property, we advise you contact the Police on 999.

National Domestic violence charity (http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/)

DIY (Domestic)

Most people have jobs which need doing around the home, especially if they have just moved in, or are redecorating. We also have to accept that many people have jobs during the day and need to do DIY work in the evenings and at weekends. However, this does not give them permission to annoy neighbours at all hours of the day and night or for the work to simply go on and on. We all have to be reasonable to live together.

DIY works are, in general, short lived small projects which would be expected to be undertaken by non-professionals.

If you are undertaking a large, long term (more than 2 weeks) project please see the advice regarding Construction noise.

If you are planning to carry out noisy DIY on your home, warn your neighbours well in advance and let them know:

  • What you are planning
  • How long you expect the work to continue
  • The times you will be doing the work (we recommend that you only carry out noisy work between 9 am and 8 pm and try to ensure that noisy works are undertaken in the middle of this time period)

If you need to carry out noisy work outside these hours, please speak to your neighbours and come to an agreement about when the work can be carried out.

If your neighbour has children or other special requirements please take these in to account when deciding on the times you want to work and discuss this with your neighbour.

Also invite your neighbours to knock on the door to let you know if the noise is causing them a problem (and be prepared to stop!)

Fireworks

Fireworks regulations restrict the level of noise from fireworks to 120 decibels (dB). Trading Standards officers will check this limit through the manufacturers. The larger more powerful display fireworks are only allowed to be possessed by professionals; whereas it is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 to be sold or possess any fireworks. Anyone caught throwing fireworks in the street can be fined under the Explosives Act 1875; which is enforced by the Police.

The Fireworks Regulations 2004 limit the use of fireworks at night in England and Wales (which is set as between the hours of 11 pm and 7 am). There are exceptions to this rule which include the following times:

  • Until 1 am following the first day of Chinese New Year
  • Until midnight on 5 November
  • Until 1 am on the day following Diwali
  • Until 1 am on the day following 31 December

The time limits imposed by the Fireworks Regulations are enforced by the Police rather than by the local authority. You can contact the Police using the 101 number for non-emergency calls. If they are unable to attend on the night they may be able to follow up your inquiry through a neighbourhood officer retrospectively.

In most cases statutory nuisance procedures will not be able to be used to tackle firework noise as, in most cases, the activity is transient and is carried out before the permitted hours. However, where commercial venues (particularly those carrying out functions) regularly set off fireworks they are more likely to fall within the scope of statutory nuisance (and sometimes licensing rules). The officer will take into account how regularly they cause disturbance. If they are a licensed premises or club they may also be subject to conditions and a limit could be placed on the number of displays taking place.

Alarms

There are occasions when your neighbours alarm may be sounding for a period of time when they’re not in.

Should your neighbours alarm sound whilst they’re out or on holiday we would suggest you try to get a message to them via phone, text message or private messages on social media. Other neighbours may know them and be able to contact them if you can’t.

If this is not possible or you have done this and it hasn’t worked, you should contact us during office hours. An officer will investigate and take any action that is required to silence the alarm.

How do we silence an alarm?

North East Lincolnshire Council has the power to issue a noise abatement Notice under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and obtain a warrant to enter any land, premise or building (by force if necessary) to silence an alarm. The costs of this will be passed to the owner/occupier of the premise.

If North East Lincolnshire Council can’t reach a key holder we can enter properties without force to silence alarms if all the following apply:

  • We’ve taken reasonable steps to contact the key holder to silence the alarm
  • the alarm has been going off constantly for 20 minutes or 1 hour intermittently
  • the noise is likely to give people nearby reasonable cause for annoyance

If the North East Lincolnshire Council needs to use force to silence an alarm, a warrant will be applied for. We suggest that if you’re going on holiday, you inform your neighbour and leave them contact details of someone who can reset/turn off your alarm.

Noise from vehicles

Noise from a vehicle such as a car can be classed as a statutory nuisance if it’s a regular occurrence and from the same vehicle.

We understand that from time to time ‘car clubs’ will meet in one area and can cause some level of noise, be that from their entertainment systems to their exhausts.

In the first instance we would advise you talk to the driver of the vehicle, if it is safe to do so and explain how the noise is affecting you.

If you have tried that and it hasn’t worked, make a note of the date and time, the vehicle details (including the registration number) and where possible a description of the driver.

You can also contact Humberside Police on 101 to report this as nuisance behaviour.

Aircraft

We do not deal with aircraft noise issues. To make a complaint about aircraft you will need to go to one of the following places:

Bird scarer

Bird scarers that make a noise are commonly used in agriculture and horticulture to protect crops from wild birds. In order to maintain good relations between the farming community and residents, toleration is encouraged from both residents who must be prepared to experience some inconvenience and farmers who are encouraged to keep disturbance to reasonable levels. The National Farmers Union (NFU), in consultation with their members has addressed this in their code of best practice on the use of bird scarers. This code is considered to be indicative of best practice, a copy of which is provided in the link at the bottom of this note.

There is no specific national legislation on the use of bird scarers and an individual householder is also able to take their own action in respect of a noise nuisance. See our conversational tips in the taking action section below.

However we have a duty under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to take action against a person who creates a noise nuisance. Failure to comply with a notice served under that Act may result in a prosecution, and the possibility of a heavy fine.

For further information refer to the NFU guidance on the use of bird scarers.

Businesses or factories

Common complaints from businesses such as shops, factories, warehouses etc. include noise from extractor fans, deliveries and collections. Residents must be prepared to experience some inconvenience if they live near to a commercial premises, but sometimes we acknowledge unreasonable noise levels may become intolerable.

If you are experiencing problems from commercial premises we advise that you contact the company causing the issue directly and allow you to reach a compromise between them running their business and your enjoyment of your property.

If an abatement notice for noise is served on industrial, trade or business premises and they’ve used the best practicable means to stop or reduce the noise, they may be able to use this as one of the following:

  • Grounds for appeal against the abatement notice
  • A defence, if prosecuted for not complying with the abatement notice

Construction or demolition sites

Much of the plant and machinery and methods of work used in construction and demolition are naturally very noisy and may give rise to vibration. Residents must be prepared to experience some inconvenience if they live near to a site where demolition or development is happening.

As a general rule, noisy works should only be undertaken between the hours of 8 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday, and 8 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. No noisy works should be carried out on Sundays or Bank Holidays. Within these hours, there is an expectation under this legislation that ‘best practicable means’ will be used to prevent nuisances occurring.

These times are for guidance only and it does not automatically mean that operating outside these time is illegal. In some cases, there may be a requirement to undertake certain works outside of these hours however, such works will require prior approval from the Council and will only be granted under exceptional circumstances.

Pubs and clubs

Residents must be prepared to experience some inconvenience if they live near to a pub or club, but sometimes this becomes too much.

One of the four licensing objectives is the prevention of public nuisance. A premise license holder may have noise related conditions on their premises licence. We work with the Licensing Service to ensure these are met at all times.

Noise originating from pubs and clubs can be annoying to local residents if it is uncontrolled or exceeds what one could reasonably expect from an entertainment venue.

Whenever possible, if a new pub or club is opening, or an existing premises is undergoing refurbishment, we try to anticipate the likely noise problems. For existing premises, an officer will visit to assess the seriousness of the complaint and to establish the cause and any possible solutions. The owner or manager will then be informed of the situation and given advice on possible solutions. Wherever possible, improvements will be achieved by agreement. If this is not successful, the action considered necessary will be incorporated as requirements in a Statutory Notice and a possible review of the premises licence.

Outdoor events

Many outdoor events, particularly those held during the summer, involve noisy activities. These activities can include music, fireworks, fairgrounds and rides, public address systems or generators. Noise from these activities can therefore be a source of annoyance to local residents, and measures should be taken to minimise it.

Those responsible for arranging events should consider the potential for noise at the planning stage.

Initially please contact the event organiser if you feel it is safe to do so.

Roadworks

For further details about roadworks in your areas please go to our Roadworks in North East Lincolnshire page.

Works carried out by North East Lincolnshire Council

Generally works let or being carried out by us will be during the following hours:

  • Monday to Friday between 07.30 am and  6 pm
  • Saturday between 8 am and 3 pm
  • Sunday working is not generally permitted

Works outside of these hours are in agreement between the contractor & Highway authority or their representative (ENGIE). Advanced warning is given to effected parties (Businesses & residents) by way of letter & press release, this is generally 10 days prior to works. Night works are generally restricted to traffic sensitive areas (busy roads), primary routes.

Works carried out by utility companies

For works carried out by utility companies please contact the relevant company directly if you have any enquiries or complaints.

How can we help you to resolve your noise problems?

There is no legal definition of what is a statutory noise nuisance is, but for the Council to investigate a complaint, you would need to show how it impacts upon your health or quality of life.

We can only investigate noises that are not part of normal daily living. As upsetting as it may be we do not investigate noises such as:

  • Domestic appliance noise (e.g. vacuum cleaner, washing machines)
  • Moving furniture
  • Heavy footfall
  • Children playing/running up and down the stairs
  • Dropping objects
  • Intermittent banging/slamming of doors

What should you do?

Being on good terms with our neighbours or a local business is something most of us value and it is important to keep those good relationships going.

In the first instance we would like you to talk to the person or business that is causing the noise.

Our experience shows that often the person causing the noise is not aware of the impact it is having on others. Sometimes, talking to them is all it takes to solve the problem. If this is done early on it can stop the problem form growing in to a bigger issue.

How do I have this initial conversation?

Tips for having the conversation:

  • Be polite and don’t interrupt when talking. Be clear about the problem and how the noise is affecting you.
  • Be reasonable and empathetic – perhaps they didn’t realise or just need some support.
  • Be safe and pick a suitable time for a discussion – if late at night, perhaps wait until tomorrow.
  • Most importantly, be calm and considerate. This may prevent tension or unnecessary disagreements.

If this approach doesn’t work and the problem continues we now suggest you explain the problem in writing, and in polite terms.

Conversational tips video

I don’t feel comfortable speaking the person responsible –  what else can I do?

If you do not feel comfortable speaking to your neighbour we suggest you send a note or letter to the resident or business, explaining what you can hear and how it’s affecting you.

For ideas, have a look at our letter templates:

These template letters are only to be used as guidance. Copies of any notes or letters you send should be kept. Please allow time for the neighbour or business to consider your request as the problem may resolve itself.

A landlord will not be liable for a nuisance caused by its tenant, except in circumstances where it can be shown that the landlord has authorised or has directly participated in the tenant’s acts of nuisance.

The landlord may be a social housing association or private landlord.

If you would like to contact a landlord but do not know who they are, you may wish to obtain a Land Registry. You can do this by going to the Gov.uk – Land Registry website.

Alternatively, you can find out the landlord/owner details by contacting the Land Registry for a small fee. For information go to the Gov.uk website.

You may wish to contact the landlord to talk to them about the noise issues. If you are writing a note or letter have a look at our Sample letter to landlords (Word document) for some guidance.

In Coventry v Lawrence which appeared before the Supreme Court in February 2014, a judgement was made on the issues of nuisance and public policy. Briefly, the Supreme Court has ruled that a landlord will not be liable for a nuisance caused by its tenant, except in circumstances where it can be shown that the landlord has authorised or has directly participated in the tenant’s acts of nuisance.

For dealing with a noisy tenant the advice available on the Homelet.co.uk website may be useful.

Sometimes no matter how thoroughly you vet your tenants, they can become the tenants from hell. One of the biggest gripes landlords have is when their tenants start to annoy their often long-established neighbours. Whilst landlords aren’t actually responsible for the noise their tenants make, it’s always a good idea to try and keep the peace.

So, what can you do if your tenants are disturbing the neighbours?

Firstly, include in your tenancy agreements a clause that your tenants must agree not to make unnecessary noise or nuisance that may result in stress being caused to neighbouring residents.

If your neighbours have complained about your tenants being too noisy, then there is some advice to follow:

  • Initially encourage your neighbour to take it up with your tenant, you are not legally liable for your tenant’s noise. If they have tried this approach, or are unwilling to try, then you should try and communicate with your tenant about the noise complaint.
  • Approach the tenant about the noise complaint and ask them about the activities that caused the disturbance. Be understanding, listen to their story, and try to help them come up with a solution.
  • If this hasn’t made a difference then send them a copy of the tenancy agreement highlighting the noise clause (if included) and the repercussions of if they breach that clause e.g. possible eviction.

If the tenant continues to cause a noise nuisance, then talk to the neighbour’s for help as you may need to report the problem to us.

If your informal approach fails or you feel you just cannot approach your neighbours directly you may feel that the situation is helped by the use of a mediation service. Go to the Civil Mediation website for guidance on how to do this.

There may be times that the Council can not resolve a noise issue for you, because they may not gain the evidence to support your allegation. In these cases it is possible for you to take your own action under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

You could also consider this option, if you didn’t want to involve the Council. This route is relatively simple and enables you to approach a Magistrates Court yourself. Visit Legislation.gov.uk for more information.

If you have tried to solve the problem yourself using the advice we have given you already, the next stage will be for you to complete and submit a report to us.

Once we have received your complaint, you will receive feedback on what the Council can potentially do or not do.

You will be required to provide your name, address and contact details to allow us to contact you about the complaint. Your details will not be shared with the complainant as per the Data Protection Act 1998.

Please note if we need to pursue legal action to resolve your noise complaint and you’re happy for us to do so your identity may be revealed during legal proceedings.

For example, the subject of the complaint will have a legal right to know who made a complaint against them if they decide to appeal against a Noise Abatement notice in court. You could also be required to give evidence if the case goes to court.

To submit a complaint complete our Noise reporting form.

Telephone: 01472 326300 (option 3)

Call centre opening times: Monday to Friday 8.30 am to 5 pm, except bank holidays