How can I stop my neighbour being so noisy?

I live in a rented flat and a new neighbour has just moved in below us. He's started making loads of noise throughout the night - so much so the bass of the music makes my bed shake! I went round to talk to him about it, but he couldn't hear the doorbell so I ended up knocking on his window to get his attention. He was really aggressive with me and told me to F-off before I'd even asked him to turn the music down. I was really taken aback but then he started threatening me and my boyfriend, saying we could sort it out here and now and that he would 'have' him. The noise continued and I felt so scared and unsafe that I called the Police but they said it wasn't really a problem and they couldn't do anything about it. As the Police have refused to do anything, I am at a loss for what to do. I'm scared to approach this man again and feel intimidated by him. Where can I get help to resolve this?

It’s always difficult to deal with conflict with neighbours; however there are a variety of options available that may help you solve the problems you’re experiencing. The choices open to you will very much depend on your individual situation.

Before you can act the noise must be so loud that you can’t use your home in the normal way. This might be the case if you are woken up by the noise or you can’t hear your own TV above it. As it sounds like this applies to you the action you can take will depend on:

  • The type of noise;
  • The time of day or night the noise happens;
  • How often it happens;
  • How long it goes on for;
  • How it affects you;
  • The type of building (different homes have different levels of sound insulation).

The first step is negotiation and you were right to try talk to the person causing the noise. If you feel able, it would be a good idea to try to find another time to explain how the noise is affecting you so that you can find a compromise. You may not feel in a position to do this because of your neighbour’s aggressive behaviour so, as an alternative, there may be agencies in your area that could help you negotiate. These are often called mediation services. If there isn’t a local mediation service ask the local council if they would be able to help.

If your neighbour rents his home and talking to him directly isn’t working, it may be worth talking to his landlord. This is because your neighbour could be breaking the terms of his tenancy agreement by making the noise. His landlord may be able to deal with the problem or warn him that continuing to make the noise could leave him open to being evicted. For a small charge you can inspect the Land Register to see if you can find the landlord’s name and address.

If other people are being affected by the problems your neighbours are causing, you may be able to take action together. There may be a tenants’ association or other group in your area that can help you to do this.

If the noise problem continues, it’s worth keeping notes about:

  • How long it lasts;
  • The time it occurred;
  • How loud it is;
  • Whether anyone else heard it;
  • The occasions you spoke to your neighbours about it;
  • The effect it had on you.

The Noise Abatement Society provides information about different types of noise that may help you keep notes about the levels of noise that are disturbing you.

If the noise continues you can contact your local council. The environmental health department of the council has the power to deal with noise problems. If you do contact them an environmental health officer may visit you to monitor the noise. They may also be able to install noise-monitoring equipment to measure the noise over a period of time. Some councils also have an out-of-hours service so are able to come out at short notice during evenings and weekends.

If the problem is serious enough, the council could take action to stop your neighbour making the noise. For example, the council could send a formal notice asking the noise to stop by a certain date. In extreme cases the council might be able to take your neighbour to court.

If your neighbour harasses you as a result of you asking them to reduce the noise then they may be committing a crime. You should contact the police if:

  • You are threatened with violence;
  • You are experiencing racial harassment;
  • Your property is damaged.

The police do have powers to take action against people who are guilty of harassment. Even if the police can’t help in one instance – as in your case – it’s worth reporting incidents to them so there is evidence that could be used later.

It may seem extreme, but if all attempts to resolve the situation have failed you might begin to consider moving out. If you do start to think about this Shelter can provide information about finding accommodation. In severe cases of neighbour harassment you may be able to say that you can no longer live in your home because it’s unreasonable to do so. If this is the case, your local council may have to help you under homelessness law.

As this is an upsetting and fairly complex situation you might find it helpful to seek further information and advice from your local Shelter office or Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB).

Answered by Shelter on 06-Mar-2014

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