Last updated: November 8, 2022 at 14:50 pm
We’ve talked a lot on this site about what to do if you’re being plagued by noisy neighbours. Today, let’s flip it around and talk about what to do if you’ve received a noise complaint letter from the council.
IN THIS ARTICLE
It can be scary to receive an official letter but don’t panic. Receiving a letter does not necessarily mean you’re in trouble. Councils are required to investigate all the noise complaints they receive. Many go nowhere, and no further action is taken.
What you have received is merely a notification that a complaint has been made.
2. Read the Letter Thoroughly
Most official letters contain information about the complaint and what the next steps are in the process. Read the letter through carefully, and if you are required to respond, make sure you do so quickly.
If the letter lists the type of noise and the times, think back and be objective. Did you start your DIY a little early in the morning?
Or maybe you were enjoying your music so much you might have turned it up a little too loud. If you’re aware of the problem, you can ensure it doesn’t happen again.
3. Do Not Go Over There
Assuming you’re a decent person, it’s understandable that you want to sort out any problems with your neighbours as quickly as possible. You may even be mortified that you have been a nuisance. However, this is not necessarily a good idea.
If your neighbours went to the council, they clearly did not feel comfortable speaking to you directly. Also, it could be a malicious complaint because they’re angry about something else.
If the talk does not go well, it could end up in an argument which may give the neighbour more ammunition. If you feel you need to talk to them then make sure you follow these steps:
- Don’t go when you’re angry; pick a calm moment
- Plan out what you want to say so that the conversation is productive
- Consider taking a neighbour who is on good terms with you both as a mediator and a witness
- If the neighbour doesn’t want to talk, accept it
- If either of you starts to get angry or upset, walk away
4. Download a Decibel Meter
There are many free apps available for smartphones that will allow you to measure the volume when you’re carrying out noisy activities.
So, any time you do anything that might be audible outside the house, check how loud it is.
5. Keep a Log
The advice for anyone making a noise complaint is to keep a log of the times noise was a problem. You should use your decibel meter every time you do anything noisy like DIY, playing music, having friends’ round, or even if your child has a tantrum.
Log how loud the noise was and how long it went on for. The more evidence you have, the easier it will be to respond if the complaint is taken further.
6. Be Courteous
Whether the council takes the complaint further or not, it’s good to be a courteous neighbour. If you own your home, you are legally required to disclose any disputes when you sell it. Problems with neighbours can have an impact on your home’s value, so it’s in your best interests to prevent problems.
If The Complaint Is Dismissed, Does That Mean I’m Not Too Noisy?
No, not necessarily. For a council to uphold a complaint, they need to have a certain amount of proof. Just because the complainant couldn’t provide it does not mean you aren’t negatively impacting your neighbour’s life.
Excessive, unwanted noise can cause increased stress levels. This can lead to a host of health problems, including high blood pressure and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
As suggested above, take some time to think carefully about your neighbour’s complaint and if there’s any truth to it. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution. Turn your stereo down a little, start DIY a little later, and try to talk more quietly if it’s late.
It can be nerve-wracking to know that one of your neighbours has made a complaint to the council but remain calm. The letter is just a notification, and the complaint may not be upheld. Although it’s an instinct, it’s best not to contact your neighbour until the council has finished their investigation in case you make it worse.
While the council is investigating, keep a log of all noisy activities in your house using a free dB meter, as well as any interactions you have with your neighbour.
Finally, remember that even if the complaint is not upheld, your neighbour’s distress may be real, so try to see things from their point of view and be considerate going forward.