Neighbour disputes—noise and nuisance

The following Property Disputes practice note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Neighbour disputes—noise and nuisance
  • Noise nuisance
  • Domestic noise
  • Commercial noise and noise from traffic
  • Night-time noise
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Statutory nuisance
  • What can the local authority do?
  • Civil proceedings for statutory nuisance
  • Private nuisance
  • More...

Neighbour disputes—noise and nuisance

Noise is one of the categories of statutory nuisance. Noise nuisance covered by statute includes:

  1. noise in the street from vehicles, equipment, machinery or loud-speakers, and faulty burglar alarms

  2. night-time noise from private dwellings, and

  3. noise pollution

The statutory regimes allow local authorities (LAs) to act for complainants, or for complainants to act directly, without involving the local authority.

For more information on nuisance generally, see Practice Notes: Nuisance—establishing a claim for private nuisance and Nuisance—what are public and private nuisance claims?

Noise nuisance

Noise nuisance is difficult to define because noise considered as pleasurable by one person may be considered a nuisance by another. However, section 79 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (EPA 1990) defines a statutory nuisance as ‘noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance’. The assessment of noise nuisance is based on whether it is reasonable (ie if the average person would consider it unreasonable, bearing in mind the locality, how often noise occurs and how many people are affected).

Domestic noise

The following are common domestic offenders:

  1. loud music (excluding parties)

  2. shouting and arguments

  3. banging/loud noises and children

  4. barking dogs

  5. motor vehicles outside the home

  6. car and house alarms

Commercial noise and noise from traffic

Noise pollution from trade, industrial and business premises is dealt with similarly to that from domestic premises. Common offenders include:

  1. machinery

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