Noisy neighbours

Noisy neighbours can ruin what would otherwise be an idyllic and peaceful garden but what, if anything can be done to restore peace and tranquillity?

When can noisy neighbours become a nuisance?

The law expects us to tolerate a certain level of irritation and inconvenience as we go about our daily lives. However, where the conduct of a person “substantially” interferes with our lives their conduct may amount to a nuisance.

There are 2 types of nuisance, a “private nuisance” and a “public nuisance”.

A private nuisance is a continuous, unlawful and indirect interference with the use or enjoyment of land, or of some right over or connected with the land.

A public nuisance is an unlawful act or omission which endangers or interferes with the lives, comfort, property or common rights of the public. There are a number of pieces of legislation which deal with particular types of public nuisance. Where a nuisance is created under a piece of legislation it is referred to as a “statutory nuisance”.

What action can be taken in relation to a noisy neighbour?

In many instances a friendly chat with the neighbour will resolve the problem. Quite often they won’t even realise how noisy they are being. If the neighbour rents his property, it may be worth speaking to their landlord about the problem if it persists. It may also be possible to resolve the matter through mediation and many local authorities provide a mediation service for such purposes.

If the problem cannot be resolved informally or through mediation it may be necessary to pursue the matter by way of Court proceedings. In the case of statutory nuisances the matter can also be pursued by way of making a complaint to the environmental health department of a local authority.

The Environmental Protection Act 1990

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (as amended) the following acts, amongst other things, constitute “statutory nuisances”:

  • noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance;

  • noise that is prejudicial to health or a nuisance and is emitted from or caused by a vehicle, machinery or equipment in a street.

There are exceptions, however for noise caused by aircraft (other than model aircraft) and for noise made by traffic, naval, military and air forces and for noise made by political demonstrations and demonstrations supporting or opposing causes and campaigns.

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For more information on:

  • The Noise Act 1996
  • Evidence of the nuisance