1. Overview & General Advice
2. What can you do?
3. What can we do?
4. Taking your own legal action
5. See frequently asked questions about this subject
Noise is generally regarded as unwanted sound. It could be too loud, intrusive or just happening at the wrong time or without warning. Car alarms, barking dogs and noisy neighbours are all examples of noise that can cause disturbance, but they don't always constitute a nuisance - it's likely we all make unwanted noise sometimes without realising it.
Information and advice on resolving neighbour disputes can be found on the Government's GOV.UK website
If you have a problem with noise:
- Try to solve the problem informally, by talking to the other party
- You could speak to us, and we may be able to help if talking to your neighbour doesn't work
- If the problem persists, it may be an antisocial behaviour issue.
- As a last resort, you can take your own action through the courts.
What you can do?
If you're being disturbed by noise in your area, we always recommend that you try to resolve the problem informally first, before you contact us. We find most issues can be resolved informally without the need for our involvement.
You should speak to the person making the noise and explain politely what it is that you are being troubled by, try to explain calmly how and why the issue is affecting you. You may find this difficult, but often people are unaware that they are causing a problem and will be glad to do what they can to reduce it. However, approach the matter carefully if you think the person might react angrily.
If you don't feel able to approach the person directly, consider writing a letter.
If you contact us we may ask if you have tried to resolve the problem yourself first by speaking to the person making the noise before we will get involved.
What can we do?
If speaking to the person making the noise hasn't resolved the problem, you can contact us to explain what the issues are and how they are affecting you. We aim to resolve issues quickly and so we will contact the person alleged to be making the noise to discuss the issues and try to agree a solution informally.
We find that most issues can be resolved informally or through mediation, however the council can potentially take further more formal action if it is felt necessary once other options have been explored.
There are some occasions when we can't take formal action, for example:
- everyday noises audible due to poor sound insulation between adjoining properties
- normal road noise
- aircraft noise
Taking your own legal action
You have the right to take private legal action Take a look at our advice on how to take your own action through the legal system.
Frequently asked questions
I am being disturbed by noise from a licensed premises e.g. a pub or club. What can I do?
Premises used for public entertainment, such as a pub or club, may require a licence from the council. If you are being disturbed by noise from a licensed premises you can report it to us. You will have to provide your name and address and as much information as you can about the noise eg the type and time. You may also be asked to complete diary sheets to record the type of noise and how often it is happening.
My neighbour has a barking dog. What can I do?
Dogs often bark as a result of boredom and/or loneliness, and the dog may be suffering from both. If it's barking when the owners are out, they may not be aware of the problem. You should try speaking to them to see if you can resolve the matter informally - see our information in our Barking Dogs Leaflet.
My dog barks a lot. What can I do?
You may be on the other side of the fence and have received a complaint about noise disturbance caused by your dog's barking. If this is the case, then please have a look at our Barking Dogs Leaflet. If you need further assistance please contact us to discuss the matter.
How do I deal with noise from aircraft?
South Staffordshire Council are not the enforcing authority for complaints regarding aircraft noise.
For more information or to make a complaint about domestic aircraft noise, please contact the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on 020 7379 7311, or via their website.
What can I do about a burglar alarm constantly going off in my street?
All alarms should be fitted with a 20 minute cut-out device, if the alarm sounds for longer than this it may be faulty.
If an alarm has been sounding for some time, say overnight, and there is no one present to shut off the device, you can contact us. We may attend the area to witness the alarm sounding and will attempt to contact the person responsible for the alarm.
If the noise is deemed to be a justifiable annoyance, the council will take action to disable the alarm. The property will be left properly secured. Any costs incurred (ie locksmith charges) will be recharged to the owner or occupier. Further information is available in or burglar alarms leaflet.
What can I do about a car alarm constantly going off?
Car alarms should cut out after five minutes. If an alarm has been sounding for a lot longer than this and there is no one present you can approach to request the device is shut-off, you can contact Public Health Protection. We will need to know the make, model, colour and location of the vehicle and its registration number.
My neighbour disturbs me with noise from their property - what can I do?
In many cases the person making the noise is unaware they are causing a problem, and the issue can be resolved quite simply. Where possible we ask you to attempt to resolve the problem yourself by talking to your neighbour before contacting us. For more information please see our neighbourhood noise leaflet.
What can I do about noise in the street?
If this is caused by people or children shouting or playing, it may be antisocial behaviour - see our advice on reporting antisocial behaviour
Public Health Protection can deal with certain noise in the street, such as noise from machinery and equipment, but not noise from moving traffic.
Can I involve the police if I have noisy neighbours?
Not generally – unless there is violence or threatening behaviour.
Within which hours can building work take place?
Normally we ask for small scale building work which is likely to be noisy to be restricted to 8.00am - 6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am - 1pm on a Saturday, with no noisy building work taking place on Sundays or bank holidays. Large scale works may be subject to individual restrictions.
For DIY noise it is difficult to set standard hours for when work takes place, but the over-riding responsibility is to be reasonable. We have provided more advice in our DIY noise Leaflet.
My road's being dug up, making noise early in the morning. When is work like this allowed?
There are no set times before which work such as this is prohibited unless it's already been covered by a formal notice imposed by us. Utility companies often agree times of work with us beforehand (especially if they are working overnight) but smaller contractors sometimes don't. If you can identify who the contractor is, we may be able to request that they work with us to protect residents' amenity, and we hope that this will lead to the time of future works being agreed.
Contractors have no legal obligation to contact us regarding likely noise before starting work. Noise in the street from vehicles, machinery or equipment (but not moving traffic) may constitute a statutory nuisance. If you are able to please speak to the builder, or the person who owns the property being worked on, first about the issue before contacting us.
What can be done about repair work taking place on a railway line?
For safety reasons work can often only be carried out when the power is turned off, which happens for a few hours during the night. If you are able to please speak to the contractor first about the issue before contacting us.