Last updated: August 8, 2022 at 10:42 am
There’s no denying it can be stressful dealing with unwanted noise that disturbs the peace and quiet of your home. Many articles are available, including those from local councils, that explain how you can act in these circumstances.
What if you’re on the receiving end of a false complaint, though? It can be worrying and stressful, particularly if you rent your home and fear eviction for being a nuisance.
Everyone has the right to a peaceful life in their home. So, let’s look at what your first steps should be if you receive a noise complaint that you feel is unfair.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- 1 7 Actions If Your Neighbour Is Making False Noise Complaints
- 2 Conclusion
7 Actions If Your Neighbour Is Making False Noise Complaints
1. Get The Details
To address a complaint in full, you need as much information as possible. If the complaint came directly from your neighbour, try and arrange a chat with them where they can air their grievances. A lot of the time, this will resolve the problem. People like to feel heard, so by listening, you may take some of the wind out of their sails, particularly if it’s a false complaint.
If it comes from the council or your landlord, then speak to them to find the exact nature of the problem.
2. Consider The Complaint
Being accused of wrongdoing of any kind is unpleasant, and our first instinct is to go on the defensive. It’s not me; it’s them, they’re unreasonable, out to get me, etc.
Before you respond, it’s worth being honest with yourself and considering their complaint. Read it carefully, and if any occasions are mentioned, look back and think carefully if anything you did could have inadvertently been annoying.
Assuming you’re positive the complaint is unfounded, move on to the next step. If you think there may be a nugget of truth, how you respond depends on how your neighbour made the complaint. If they put a note through your door and you’re usually on good terms popping over for a chat may do the trick. Apologise for disturbing them and try to figure out the best way to proceed together.
If it’s an official letter, then respond as instructed. Acknowledge the problem and explain what you plan to do to fix it.
3. Start A Neighbour Diary
Just as you should keep a diary of all noise problems when you are the victim, if you are falsely accused, you should start keeping a diary too. If the complaint progresses to a hearing, the more evidence you have, the better.
Your diary should be even more detailed than the complainant’s. Log everything! What time you get up, what time you go to bed, any times you are out of your house, and the times you do anything that might be considered noisy.
- listening to music
- watching tv
- or having friends over. Log the start and end times
If you want to be particularly thorough, download a free decibel meter on your smartphone. Then, measure at various points during the activity and note how loud it was.
4. Think About Your Relationship with The Complainant Up To This Point
Have you always got on well, and this is completely out of the blue? Or have you always been at loggerheads? It’s worth writing down a brief history of your relationship, and make sure to note any specific problems.
Making a noise complaint is an easy way to make trouble for someone, so your neighbour may be doing it in retribution for another run-in the two of you had. Note any potential issues and how they ended.
Also read: How to Stop Worrying About Noisy Neighbours
5. Play Sherlock
If you know you’re not making noise, but your neighbour is adamant, it may be worth doing a bit of investigating. It can be a challenge to pin down where a sound is coming from, and your neighbour may assume it’s you as you’re next door or directly above them.
So, if they report regularly hearing a thudding bass from music at 9 pm, go for a wander at that time for a few nights. If you live in a block of flats, travel a couple of floors up and downstairs and see if you can hear the noise.
If you have a house, walk along your street and the surrounding streets to see if there is any similar noise in the air.
Assuming you find something and feel comfortable talking to your neighbour, knock on their door and ask them to accompany you to the place you heard it. Once they have proof it’s not you, hopefully they’ll change their target.
Regardless of the result, make a note of your investigations in your log.
6. Ask The Council for Recording Equipment
The environmental health department of the council handles noise complaints. Part of their investigation involves giving the complainant recording equipment to record the excessive noise.
If you’re confident you are not being noisy, ask the council for this equipment and run it in your home for a few days. It will record all the noise you make, so if your neighbour says that you were playing loud music at 11 pm or hoovering through the night and the recording is silent, then you have proof the claims are false.
7. Do Not Escalate
Being complained about isn’t nice, and it’s natural to want to defend yourself. However, you’re only one half of the problem, and you have no idea what your neighbour’s frame of mind is. If you go round to talk to them, even with the best of intentions, you could end up in an argument.
This could then hand your neighbours more ammunition, particularly if it’s loud enough for other neighbours to hear. Your neighbour could then go to the police and complain that you’re intimidating or harassing them. The result is more evidence for their complaint.
If you do decide to pop round, do not do it after receiving the complaint. Give yourself a few days or even a week to calm down and analyse each of their complaints in turn. Ideally, if you’re on good terms with another neighbour, ask them to go with you as a witness.
If you go on your own, remain calm and try to stick to a discussion of the facts. If you or your neighbour start to get upset, leave the conversation there rather than risk making things worse. You should also make a record of what was said when you get home for your log.
It’s horrible to be complained about, especially if you haven’t done anything wrong. Please be assured there will likely be no serious outcomes for you. For the council to act they need proof and if you aren’t being noisy there won’t be any.
As difficult as it is, try to live your life normally until the complaint is dismissed. You have a right to live a normal life in your home, don’t let anyone spoil it.