Last updated: September 21, 2022 at 12:10 pm
In this post, we will talk about the law surrounding noise from pubs, bars, and restaurants. External noise that disturbs the peace of your home can be extremely stressful. Studies have indicated that regular noise nuisance can cause:
- Sleep disturbance
- High blood pressure
- Increased chance of developing type 2 diabetes
- Increased risk of having a stroke
- Neighbours can be a common cause of noise complaints. However, you can often work out a solution that resolves the issue by having a friendly chat with them. What if the problem is not a neighbour but a business, though?
IN THIS ARTICLE
Noise From Businesses
Neighbours should be able to modify their behaviour easily to ensure they don’t disturb you. Businesses like pubs will find it more difficult. Firstly, they must do certain things to run their business, like play music, for example. Secondly, they only have limited control over the noise their customers make, especially after they’ve consumed alcohol.
So, what does the law say if you’re living close to a pub and suffer noise disturbances after 11pm?
The Noise Act (1996) only covers noise made by residential dwellings, so the Environmental Protection Act (1990) applies to businesses. If the noise a pub is making constitutes a statutory or public nuisance, the council can act.
If anti-social behaviour is also involved, then the police may arrive too. Finally, if noise proves to be a continuing problem, the licensing authority may review and even suspend the pub’s licence.
What Constitutes Excessive Noise?
It varies a little from council to council, but as a good rule of thumb, noise any louder than 34dB is considered a nuisance after 11pm.
The types of noise aren’t listed in full, but those associated with pubs may include:
- Loud music played inside that is audible outside
- Live or recorded music played in an outdoor space
- Patrons talking and laughing in an outdoor space
- Noise caused by customers leaving the venue
- Taxis beeping or leaving their engines running
- Music coming from cars waiting for customers
- Loud noise from bottle bins being emptied
You could argue that taxis or waiting cars are not under the control of the pub. However, many pubs have security staff on the doors, and all pubs are responsible for the noise made due to their presence. Even if there is no security staff, it is in the pub’s best interest to have a member of staff outside at closing time to encourage customers to be quiet.
Many pubs also put signs at all the doors reminding customers and staff to be considerate of the surrounding homes when leaving.
What Can I Do If A Pub Is Disturbing Me?
If possible, it’s still best to talk to them as you would a neighbour. They won’t want to deal with noise complaints from the council and should be keen to help if they can. Try to go before opening or at a quiet time. Then the manager will be free to give you their full attention rather than trying to oversee the pub too.
Try to give specific examples. For example, saying, “Your pub is too noisy” is vague and means they might change the wrong things. Better examples include:
• Last Friday night at 11:20, taxis came and went for over half an hour. They kept their engines running and kept beeping their horns.
• Your pub shuts at 11pm, but customers stayed outside talking loudly to their friends til 11:30 last night.
• When your staff clear up, they make a lot of noise emptying the bin, slam doors and shout to one another.
Hopefully, the manager will take your complaints seriously and let you know what they plan to do about it. You could even come armed with a couple of suggestions yourself.
What If Nothing Changes?
Once you’ve spoken to the manager, make a note of who you spoke to, the date and time, and what was agreed upon. If nothing changes, write to the pub by recorded delivery, reiterating your concerns and what you would like to happen.
You have two options if the pub still does not resolve the issue. Firstly, if they are part of a chain, you could complain to the head office. Chains usually have rules about bringing the brand into disrepute, and they will contact the pub and resolve the problem.
Alternatively, you can complain to the environmental health department of your local council. Explain the problem in full of examples, dates and times. You should also list any actions you’ve taken to try to solve the problem, like writing to the pub or head office.
If the council upholds your complaint, they can issue a warning notice which comes into effect ten minutes after it is issued. After that, the environmental health dept should continue to monitor the situation, but if you’re still unhappy, keep logging the incidents and complain again. The next step is a £500 fixed penalty notice, and if the noise persists, the licensee can be convicted and fined up to £5000.
As a final step, repeated complaints and breaches could lead to the pub losing its licence. As a result, they would need to close until a new licensee is found.
If the noise is so loud or there is a lot of crime or anti-social behaviour linked to the pub, the police have the power to shut it down for 24 hours. Of course, the police cannot close the pub permanently, but this action would carry a lot of weight if the pub’s licence were being reviewed.
According to UK law, the time between 11pm and 7 am is considered nighttime, and there are laws in place to prevent excessive noise between these hours.
Try to talk to the pub if you find the noise a nuisance and try to work it out peacefully. If you get nowhere, then data is your friend! Log the type of noise, frequency, and length, and what you did to try and resolve the problem.
Contact your local council and the brewery and make a formal complaint. They will act and hopefully restore peace to your area.