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Noise nuisance (domestic)

Advice on dealing with noise issues. You can also report a noise nuisance or complaint online.

Noisy neighbours are a common source of nuisance, main noise complaints involve barking dogs, loud music or TV, shouting, banging doors and DIY activities.

Neighbour noise could be disturbing you for the following reasons:

  • Neighbours are behaving unreasonably

  • Neighbours are behaving normally, but sound insulation in your home may not be good enough to cut out the sounds of everyday living

  • Sensitivity of people to different types of noise varies (sounds that are enjoyable to some people may annoy others)

What can you do about a noisy neighbour in Dorset?

  1. First, approach your neighbour and explain politely that you are being troubled by noise. You may find this difficult, but often people are unaware that they are causing a problem. Most will be glad to do what they can to reduce noise. However, approach the matter carefully if you think your neighbour might react angrily to a complaint.

  2. If the problem continues, start a diary recording dates, times and cause of the noise, and the effects it has on you.

  3. Write to your neighbour explaining the problem. Ask them to stop the noise nuisance, referring to any conversations you may have had and what, if anything, they agreed to do about it. Keep a record of any conversations you have or letters you write. If your neighbours are tenants, tell their landlord about your problem.

Report a noise or nuisance complaint in Dorset

Are there alternatives to legal action?

Noise disputes are often resolved informally.

Legal action should be a last resort, it is unpleasant and will inevitably further sour the relationship between you and your neighbour.

It is very important that you do your best to resolve any problem in a friendly way.

Mediation

Mediation can often help resolve some neighbour disputes.

It is a step by step process in which an impartial mediator helps people in dispute settle their differences quickly and confidentially. It does not seek to prove right or wrong but helps those involved to identify what they want to change.

Mediation can be a very effective way of resolving neighbour disputes and the Council therefore recommends neighbours to seek the assistance of a mediation service.

Council action

Dorset councils will take all reasonable steps to investigate your complaint.

Initially, a case officer will write to the person causing the noise saying that a complaint has been made, asking them to take any steps that may be necessary to reduce noise. At the same time they will write to you with a record sheet so that you can log any recurrences of noise. 

Your details will remain confidential at this time but may be released in the event of any court action. 

When the record sheet is returned, the case officer will assess it, and if appropriate make arrangements to visit when the noise is occurring.

If the case officer establishes that a statutory nuisance ("noise emitted from premises so as to be prejudicial to health or a nuisance") is occurring or likely to occur or recur then they can serve what is called an abatement notice. They will have taken into account a number of factors including the locality, the time of day or night, and the frequency and duration of the noise complained of. An abatement notice will seek to control the noise. 

Failure to comply can lead to a person appearing in court and the noise producing equipment, e.g. stereo system, may be seized.

Sometimes, the case officer, although sympathetic to the effect the noise is having on you, is unable to say that it would represent a statutory nuisance to the 'average' person.

In such instances, an attempt will be made to resolve your complaint informally, or you will be advised to seek mediation or recommended that you take your own action.

Taking your own action

If you live in premises affected by noise you consider a nuisance you can, under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, complain direct to a magistrates court. This is recommended when the council is not able to substantiate a nuisance.

Dorset councils investigate hundreds of complaints of domestic noise and in many cases they find that the person being complained about has just as plausible a story as the complainant.

Very often it is found that relationships between neighbours are strained and that the noise complaint is just part of a greater and sometimes complicated dispute. In these circumstances the officer will often recommend the complainant to take his own case.

The Magistrates Court then has to decide the rights and wrongs of the situation. Remember that the person you complain about may be able to produce counter-arguments in defence that are just as real to him as your grievances are to you.

One thing you must do is be quite certain of the grounds of your complaint and that you are not overreacting to a situation which many people find acceptable.

  • Report a domestic nuisance online

    If you are experiencing a noise or nuisance from a residential property or business premises (factory, shop, pub or club etc.) in Dorset please report it here and we will contact you in office hours.

  • Types of noise complaints

    A list of different types of noise pollution and how you and Dorset councils can deal with them.

  • Noise complaints - Christchurch

    If you are bothered by noise coming from a neighbours home or from a local business, very often the problem can be resolved simply by talking to them, they may be unaware that they are disturbing you.

  • Noise complaints - East Dorset

    An emergency 24 hour service is offered by the Environmental Health team for the investigation of certain new complaints such as raves, large parties, misfiring audible alarms on houses, cars and commercial properties.

  • North Dorset District Council Noise Complaints - North Dorset

    Every year, North Dorset District Council try to resolve hundreds of complaints of noise from industry, trade and domestic premises. We assess whether noise is actionable in law as a statutory nuisance.

  • Noise complaints - Purbeck

    When noise from a neighbouring property is causing a nuisance, initially the best way to deal with the problem is to go to the source and try to resolve it amicably. Often your neighbour will not be aware that they are even causing a problem.

  • Noise complaints - West Dorset

    Every year, we try to resolve hundreds of complaints about noise from industry, trade and domestic premises. We assess whether noise is actionable in law as a statutory nuisance.

  • Noise complaints - Weymouth and Portland

    We can never expect total silence from our neighbours. If you feel it is causing you a nuisance and you cannot approach your neighbour directly then you can contact Public Health.

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