Advice on preventing noise nuisance

Noise from neighbours is a common source of disturbance.

The most frequent complaints are about barking dogs, loud music, loud TVs, shouting, banging doors and DIY activities. 

What you can do to control noise

Everyone can expect some noise from their neighbours, as no house or flat is totally soundproof.

To control neighbour noise, consider: 

  • telling your neighbours in advance and keeping the noise to a minimum if you're having a party
  • keeping the volume of your TV, radio and music as low as possible, especially late at night.
  • using headphones if you want to turn the music up
  • doing DIY and garden jobs during the day
  • keeping noisy household equipment such as washing machines away from connecting walls

Noise from barking dogs

The constant barking or whining of a dog can irritate and disturb neighbours. Many owners do not realise that the problem is occurring, as it usually only occurs when the dog owner has left the dog alone in the property.

Make sure that the dog becomes used to you being away for different periods of time at different times of the day.

To train it to do this, you can put the dog in another room and not return until it is quiet for a period. The time that the dog is left alone can then be gradually increased.

To stop your dog barking you can: 

  • avoid making a fuss whenever you leave your dog
  • feed and exercise your dog before you leave. Make sure that it has some fresh water, its bed, basket and its favourite toys
  • check that the room is not too hot or cold and that there is adequate ventilation
  • leave a light on if you are not coming back until after dark
  • make sure the dog cannot see outside, so that it will not bark at things happening outside
  • try leaving a radio on at low volume, as some dogs will only settle when they hear a human voice
  • try not to leave your dog for long periods. If this is not possible, ask someone else to check on it and take it for a walk

Audible intruder, smoke and fire alarms

Ensure your alarms are regularly serviced and automatically cut out after sounding for 20 minutes. 

It is recommended that you appoint two key-holders for the property who have the ability to turn off the alarm, and that you tell your neighbours who your keyholders are.

We hold a keyholder list. Complete our form if you'd like to register your keyholder details and return it to environmental.protection@medway.gov.uk.

Noise and the law

If noise is caused by people living or visiting a Housing Association property, the relevant Housing Association may be able to investigate the neighbour noise complaint to determine whether people are behaving unreasonably.

As landlords, Housing Associations have the power of eviction which can be used to control noise nuisance problems.

Environmental Protection can also investigate complaints of noise under statutory nuisance.

If a council officer witnesses a statutory noise nuisance, they don't have the power to evict but can serve a notice requiring the nuisance to be stopped. If a notice is served and the nuisance is not controlled, we can prosecute individuals in the Magistrates Court and/or seize noise making equipment.

There is no fixed noise level for action to be taken over neighbour noise. Investigating officers determine if a noise is unreasonable, by making a judgement as to if it affects on the complainant.

In order to make this judgement, we take into account:

  • volume of the noise
  • how often the noise occurs
  • duration of each noise event
  • time of day - noise is considered more disturbing between 11pm and 7am when most people expect to be able to sleep
  • type of noise such as the bass beat from loud music is more likely to cause disturbance
  • how close the noise is to neighbouring property
  • the character of the neighbourhood. A nuisance is more likely in a quiet residential area than in the city centre
  • whether the noise is intentional

Note: Account can only be taken of how the noise affects the ‘average’ person, as opposed to people with sensitive hearing, illness or those working nights.