Who Can Help?
There are a number of groups and individuals that can help sufferers of noise nuisance; who you go to will depend upon the type of help you wish to seek. In most cases you will probably be looking to your local authority to investigate and resolve your noise problem; most often it will be the environmental health department who will be the principle point of contact (although it is worth appreciating that different local authorities may set up their teams in different ways in order to be able to respond to different priorities).
Depending upon the size and location of the local authority there may be one or more noise enforcement officers (sometimes qualified environmental health practitioners) who are responsible for enforcing statutory nuisance and anti-social behaviour legislation. In large or urban authorities they may operate a noise team, sometimes at night-time, who are able to respond quickly to problems as they occur. They will most likely be based at your local (district, borough or metropolitan) council rather than with the County Council (if applicable). As well as noise services, some departments operate anti-social behaviour teams and work in partnership with the Police.
If the problem is part of a wider anti-social problem (say, involving aggressive behaviour) you may also contact your local neighbourhood policing team (they can also be reached through the non-emergency 101 number if an incident is happening at the time). The Police can also enforce the anti-social behaviour legislation that the local authority enforce. In addition, they are often able to respond to significant issues arising at night.
Registered social landlords are often involved in policing and overseeing anti-social behaviour associated with their own housing stock; they have a range of powers to deal with anti-social tenants. As housing authorities carry out public functions they also have a responsibility to ensure that they act in a way that protects human rights; a failure to address reports of noise from a tenant may amount to a failure to respect for the private or family life of the victim or their right to respect for the home.
It is not in any landlord’s interest to house an anti-social neighbour. Most landlords will have tenancy agreements with occupants that include conditions relating to nuisance. If a tenant is causing a problem to their neighbours a landlord can apply to the court for an eviction order.
Legal representation can be expensive unless you are able to establish a no-win-no-fee arrangement. Apart from solicitors you may obtain free advice from your Citizen’s Advice Bureau.
Depending upon the circumstances there may be other bodies who are able to provide assistance. Universities, for example, may be able to intervene in the case of noise from students; and trade or professional associations may be interested in the conduct of their members (if the noise originates from a business).