To reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) we are spending more time at home for prolonged periods, consequently this means that we will be hearing more from our neighbours than we are used to. This may lead to frustration or annoyance with noise we do not want to hear.
To reduce noise nuisance from houses and premises, the law defines a maximum amount of noise which is acceptable during night hours. Night hours are 11.00 pm until 7.00 am. When noise exceeds the permitted level, the district council can investigate and take action against the neighbour or other noise source.
When it comes to complaints of nuisance neighbours, noise is the most common complaint however people are often surprised by what is legally deemed a nuisance. Some examples of common complaints are:
• Home Improvements - There are no set times between which work can or cannot be done but you should always make sure you do the work during reasonable times, it is usually suggested 08:00 to 20:00 Monday to Friday, 09.00 to 17:00 Saturday and 10:00 to 16:00 on Sundays and Bank Holidays although the recommended hours vary due to the local authority and you should check with them if you have any concerns.
• Smoke - There are strict rules surrounding bonfires, for example when they can be lit. Safety concerns also come into play, as allowing smoke to drift across the road can be dangerous for drivers. If a neighbour is frequently lighting bonfires or a chiminea this can be considered a nuisance and the council can issue an abatement notice.
• Trees and hedges - A neighbour’s tree should not be hanging into your garden and whilst they can be annoying, you can only cut it back as far as your own fence. Throwing tree cuttings back over your neighbours’ fence without consent could be considered fly tipping and you cannot take fruit from a neighbour’s tree, even if it is overhanging, as this could be considered theft.
• Invasion of Privacy - Make sure any CCTV cameras do not point at your neighbour’s land, this could breach privacy laws and could be seen as harassment. With the closure of children’s playgrounds during the pandemic many people invested in a trampoline for their children. If they can see into your neighbour’s garden, this could also be an invasion of privacy
• Pet Complaints - if an animal is making noise until the early hours of the morning, or using your garden without permission, you have grounds for complaint.
If you are encountering any issue with your neighbour you should try and discuss them directly with your neighbour, they may not realise they are being a nuisance. If this does not resolve the matter you could try mediation or make a complaint to the council. To assist with any complaint, you should keep a record of the nuisance, how many times it occurs, when and how long for. If you are able to take photographs or video, without causing a nuisance yourself, this will assist with your complaint. Councils have a duty to investigate excessive noise, anti-social behaviour, intimidation, and petty vandalism affecting local communities.
If you are encountering any issues with your neighbour and need advice on how to proceed please contact Summerfield Browne Solicitors on 01858 414 284 or [email protected]
Summerfield Browne have offices in Leicester, Birmingham, London, Oxford, Cambridge and Market Harborough and assist with cases all over the UK.