Noise nuisance

What is noise nuisance?

Noise nuisance includes:

  • Neighbour noise – loud music, barking dogs, banging, shouting
  • Alarms - house intruder alarms, car alarms
  • Construction noise – building and demolition sites
  • Entertainment noise – pubs, clubs and private functions
  • Industrial noise – factories, delivery vehicles, air conditioning units

Sometimes a noise can be annoying but it may not be a nuisance as far as the law is concerned.

To be a nuisance, the following factors are considered:

  • Disturbance – the noise must interfere with your enjoyment of living in your home, for example, by preventing you sleeping or reading
  • Loudness – the louder the noise the more likely it is to be a nuisance
  • Duration – the longer the noise goes on for the more likely it is to be a nuisance
  • Occurrence - the more often the noise occurs the more likely it is to be a nuisance
  • Time of day – noise can be a nuisance at any time of the day or night
  • Type of noise – the more annoying the noise (e.g. a whistle or whine) the more likely it is to be a nuisance
  • Locality – people living in different areas (e.g. town and country) can expect to hear different types and levels of noise
  • Your sensitivity - if you have above average sensitivity to noise then the law may not consider the noise a nuisance.

How the Council can help with a noise nuisance

Before contacting the Council, try and talk to the person making the noise.

If that doesn't work, start filling out a noise nuisance diary. The diary will help the Council decide how to deal with the noise.

Contact the Environmental Health Team and show them your diary. An officer from the team will help you with your case.

Take your own action to deal with a noise nuisance

Dog barking

Find out how to work with your neighbours to tackle problems caused by your dog barking, without having to involve the authorities.

Complain to a Magistrates Court

You can make a complaint to a Magistrates Court.

The Magistrates Court may demand the person causing the nuisance to stop and/or prevent the nuisance starting again.

Make sure you have the following information:

  • The address complained about
  • The name of the person causing the nuisance
  • The type of nuisance (e.g. loud music)
  • When and how often the nuisance occurs
  • The effect the nuisance has on your living conditions (e.g. can't sleep)
  • An example of one particular time when the nuisance was a serious problem to you
  • The number of times you have complained to the person causing the nuisance (keep copies of letters you may have written)
  • Police statements if they have been called
  • Your noise nuisance diary

You should also speak to other neighbours to see if anyone else has the same problem and is prepared to give evidence against the person causing it.

The procedure you need to follow:

  1. At least 3 days before you visit the court, write to the person causing the nuisance and tell them that you intend  to take out a court summons against them under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for nuisance.  Keep a copy of this letter.
  2. Go to the Magistrates Court,  Justices’ Clerk’s Office, St Domingo Place, West Street, Oldham. Afternoon is usually the best time, but phone the Court to check before you go, on Tel: 0161-620-2331.
  3. Ask for the Justices’ Clerk’s Office and tell them you wish to lay a complaint under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for nuisance.
  4. A secretary will type your summons on a court form.  It will be signed by the Magistrates’ Clerk and sent to the person causing the nuisance, whose full name you must provide.
  5. The Court will fix a date for the hearing of your case.  This will normally be several weeks after the summons is served.
  6. Tell the Clerk that you need at least 2 hours of Court time.  Insist on this, otherwise on the day the case is heard it may be adjourned (put off to another date).
  7. Ask the Clerk for advice on Court procedure so that you know how to present your case.
  8. On the day of the hearing, you will have to attend Court and convince the Magistrates that there was/is a nuisance.  The person causing the nuisance will probably try to convince the Court that they are innocent and that your charge is nonsense.
  9. It will help if you can bring witnesses to support your case.
  10. Don’t forget to bring all your papers with you to the Court.

You may be able to get free legal advice - ask a solicitor at the Citizens Advice Bureau if you think you may be eligible.

If you lose your case you may be asked to pay any money the person has spent defending himself e.g. hiring a solicitor.

If the nuisance is from a trade or business then the company have a legal defence that they are using the “best practicable means” to prevent a nuisance.  Council officers can give you advice on what is likely to be considered “best practicable means”  in your case.

Environmental Health Team
Chadderton Town Hall
Middleton Road
Chadderton
Oldham, OL9 6PP
Tel 0161 770 2244
Fax 0161 770 3444