Taking Your Own Action
Even when you are involved with an outside agency you will still need to be in the driving seat. In this section we have concentrated on action you can take yourself, without the help or support of a noise investigation agency.
When should you consider taking your own action?
When the problem first comes to light
Research has shown that if you act quickly you are much more likely to resolve your noise issue informally. So don’t let the problem linger or develop into a more serious issue. If you are able, contact your neighbour at the next opportune moment and nip it in the bud.
If you are confident in effecting change yourself
Having a rapport (or being on friendly terms) with your neighbour may enable you to influence positive behavioural change more easily. It may be that you are both able to deal with the matter civilly or professionally between yourselves, without the need for a third party intervening. In other cases you may not be able to speak directly with your neighbour but may be confident that you may still effect change yourself in writing or through the courts.
When enforcement agencies or landlords are unable to help you
If you have explored an issue via an enforcement agency but they have been unable (or unwilling) to reduce noise from a particular source to an acceptable level, you may need to take matters into your own hands.
To resolve poor insulation problems
If you live in rented accommodation your landlord will be responsible for resolving significant sound insulation issues that affect your quality of life (see our information on sound insulation issues and the “housing health and safety rating scheme”). However, there are times when occupiers (particularly leaseholders and freeholders) experience issues and want to improve the quality of sound protection between dwellings themselves.
When you want to recover damages
If you have suffered, or are still suffering, from noise it is possible for you to claim damages or costs for expenses reasonably incurred. Compensation recognises the interference and disruption you may have suffered. Local authorities do not involve themselves with obtaining compensation or cost-recovery for victims.
To speed up the abatement process
Injunctions and court orders from magistrates (section 82) may be obtained very quickly and therefore may provide a fast-response solution to noise. Usually immediate or instant action is warranted in response to the more serious interferences or those that affect the community at large. In other cases dealing with your own noise problem may allow you to fast-track any of the procedures, waiting lists or priority cases that the local authority may be concerned with.
When the local authority are responsible for the noise
Occasionally, it may be the local authority themselves that are responsible for the noise (either by their default, act or sufferance). This may be experienced by residents living next door to public recreational facilities, for example. The local authority noise enforcement team should still be able to investigate your claim but, ultimately, are not able to take formal action against their own organisation.
To prevent a problem from occurring in the future
Most commonly this sort of preventative action is taken via the licensing and planning systems where a change has been proposed to neighbouring land or premises. In such cases representations may be made to the planning and licensing authorities. These are considered in more detail under our planning and licensing sections.
Here are some options for tackling your noise issue:
• Settle the matter yourself by approaching your neighbour
• Make improvements to the building structure or sound insulation
• Take a Section 82 action
• Take a civil claim and/or injunction
• Try mediation