Noisy neighbours

Noise from neighbours can be irritating, annoying or at worse, very disturbing. Find out how we deal with noise complaints about noisy neighbours.

Unreasonable noise

The legal controls on noisy neighbours are based on the law of 'nuisance'. To be a nuisance, noise must be unreasonable to an average person and impact the use of their property. We cannot take formal action unless a noise meets the legal requirements.

The loudness, type of noise, how often and for how long it happens are all taken into account when considering if the noise is a nuisance. It also has to be persistent. A noise that does not happen often or does not last a long time is unlikely to be classed as a nuisance.

We all have to live with the occasional noise disturbance, but nobody has the right to make as much noise as they want, whenever they want.

Your first steps

Most noise problems can be resolved by having a polite conversation. People do not always know their noise is disturbing others. A polite chat is always the best first option.

West Sussex Mediation Service offer free, confidential and independent assistance with neighbour problems. They can be contacted on

Phone 0300 200 0025

Online https://www.wsms.org.uk

If your neighbours don't take any notice of your conversation, our Environmental Health team may be able to help.

How to report a noise complaint

You can make a report anytime day or night using our online service.

Report noise

If you need to urgently report noise happening during the evening or at night, call our out of hours service.

Phone 01903 737500

What happens next

We will write to your neighbour telling them a complaint has been made, and they should take steps to control the noise. We'll also write to you to confirm we have done this. We don't tell your neighbour who complained, but they may be able to guess. 

If we take legal action, you may be asked to give evidence in court.

If they don't take any notice and the disturbance continues, you need to start keeping diary.

Noise diaries

A noise diary involves making a detailed record of when and how are you disturbed by the noise. This should cover a representative period, usually around 3 weeks. It's important this is as detailed and accurate as possible, and it may be required as evidence in court.

See our example of a noise diary:

Noise diary
Date Time Type of noise and how you were affected
12/1/21 11:30pm to 1:45am Loud music from 13 Decibel Avenue. The party wall was vibrating. The monotonous bass rhythm was clearly audible above the volume of my television set. When I went to bed, I was unable to sleep because of the noise
15/1/21 10:45pm to 3:30am Loud music and shouting from 13 Decibel Avenue. The music was louder than the volume of my television set. Mr Quiet of 10 Decibel Avenue, visited me at 11:15pm and heard the noise. When I asked Mr Loud of 13 Decibel Avenue if he would turn the music down, he became very abusive towards me

 

You'll need to return your completed noise diary to us. We'll review the diary and decide if the noise is unreasonable and could be considered a nuisance. If the noise does class as a nuisance, there is a good chance of successful formal action.

We will send a second letter to your neighbour warning them of the possible legal action and penalties for causing a further nuisance. If the noise continues after this, let us know and we will investigate further.

One of our officers will usually make up to three visits to your property to witness the noise. Normally we need to witness the noise to take legal action. Our officer will assess if the noise meets the legal definition of a nuisance.

A same-day response, where necessary outside office hours, may be made where there is significant noise disturbance in the neighbourhood. The out of hours service is delivered by a contractor on our behalf and in partnership with Adur and Worthing Councils.

If we are satisfied that there is a nuisance and the noise is likely to continue in the future, we will serve a Notice on the person(s) responsible. This requires the noise to stop or be reduced within a given time. That person may appeal against the Notice or may just ignore it.

In either case, your evidence may be needed in court. If the nuisance continues, in breach of the terms of the Notice, further investigations will be necessary to provide evidence for prosecution. You should keep a noise diary until the problem is resolved.

If we consider that a nuisance does not exist, we will tell you, and we will take no further action.

However, you may still be able to take your own legal action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

It is our aim to resolve your complaint within three months. The majority of complaints will be resolved within this time but some cases do take longer.