In view of the latest Government advice regarding Coronavirus (COVID-19), the Pollution Team are currently unable to make personal visits. Officer constraints also mean it is not possible to respond to complaints in the usual way. We are asking for our residents to be considerate during these unusual times and please refrain from creating unreasonable noise.
The COVID-19 position is changing rapidly and we will update this page when new procedures are in place.
For further information, please see our Coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage.
Everyone is going to be experiencing difficulties and stresses because of the current restrictions on movement, with most people being confined to their homes and where available, gardens, for most of the day for the foreseeable future. A considerable number of people will need to work from home and children will be doing school work at home. The pandemic situation will also be resulting in increased anxiety for many people. In some situations, this may lead to frustrations or annoyance with noise we do not want to hear.
With this in mind, we would urge everyone to be considerate of their neighbours by thinking about how noise from your home could be causing problems and upset to others. For the same reason, we would urge everyone to be more tolerant and patient with noise and activity that they won't be used to hearing. There is a real need to show some good will at this time.
Below is some specific advice on reducing noise and some common noise problems:
Everyday household living generates noise and it is important to acknowledge the levels of noise your household creates and think about the impact it might have on your neighbours. Consider the lifestyle of your neighbours e.g. are they retired or do they have young children?
If you are approached/contacted by a neighbour and asked to keep your noise down react positively. Respect their right to enjoy their home without hearing all that is going on in yours. Keep in mind the need to maintain a 2 metre distance from any of your neighbours.
Stereo's, TV and Music
What is considered entertainment for one person can be torture for someone else. Avoid playing music so loud that your neighbours can hear it and keep the bass level down. Loud music in the garden is more likely to cause a problem to your neighbours - try and keep it at or below conversation level or wear headphones.
Some of us play musical instruments - the key with this is to keep musical instrument practices short and at reasonable times. If you can, do it in a room furthest away from your neighbour. If you are a neighbour who can hear someone practicing, be prepared to be patient.
The current Government restrictions on socialising mean that you should not be socialising with anyone who you don't live with, including in any outdoor areas. Any complaint concerning noise from a party or a social gathering will be investigated, as this may not only amount to a noise disturbance but also a breach of the Governments Coronavirus social distancing requirements. This is not in any way acceptable behaviour, or behaviour that is likely to be tolerated.
Given the circumstances, you may be tempted to have 'online' parties in your home. If you do, please keep the volume down, particularly the bass, or use headphones. Avoid any loud, late night parties. Homes aren't the place to replicate a pub or night club environment. If someone complains, be prepared to accept you are probably disturbing quite a few others too. Turn the music down or use headphones.
Complaints about dog barking often happen because dogs are left at home alone for long periods of time. There are however, practical steps dog owners can take to minimise dog barking and prevent noise nuisance.
Late night deliveries
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak the government has extended delivery hours to include night time deliveries for supermarkets and other food retailers. You can view a copy of the statement.
Some people may choose to complete those DIY tasks that they have been meaning to get around to during this period of restriction. Whilst you may enjoy putting your time at home to good use, your neighbours will not enjoy long periods of drilling, sawing or hammering.
Most people will be understanding and accommodating, but you should be prepared to compromise if there are times that your neighbour asks you to avoid for a genuine reason. In any situation, unless it's an emergency, try not do this sort of work in the evening or early in the morning, particularly at the weekend.
The construction site next door or opposite your home might be finished for the day when you return home from work, but now you are home during the day you might hear the work taking place on the site. Construction work is inherently noisy but as long as the site is managed well, keeps to the hours of 8am - 6pm Monday to Fridays and from 8am -1pm on Saturdays (for noise generating work) and they are taking all reasonable precautions to reduce noise, they are working within the guidelines.
How we can help
The Council will continue to run a Noise Service. You can still call to report ongoing noise by calling 01372 474750 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org In many instances you will be offered advice and we will endeavour to resolve the problem by initially contacting the source of the noise in writing. You can also use our online reporting form. We will also, where appropriate, ask you to complete log sheets to give us a better picture about the frequency and duration of the noise you are experiencing.
Please be assured that we are keeping the service under review and looking at alternative options to replace face-to-face visits at this difficult time.
Before making a complaint
Before you make a noise complaint, please read the following:
Noise is an inevitable consequence of a modern and vibrant society. This must be balanced with the effects on quality of life, health and wellbeing.
There is no right to absolute peace and quiet. We all need to be reasonable. For instance, you should consider where the noise occurs, the time of day, and frequency. Ultimately, the law is there to cover cases which are particularly significant.
We have found that it is good to address noise issues early and to start at a lower level. Most people are reasonable, and it is worth first trying to speak to the person causing the noise.
If you prefer an alternative to speaking face-to-face, a polite letter can also be effective. We provide some sample noise letters for you to use. Remember to keep a copy.
Using a third-party mediation service can help resolve these types of problems. In Elmbridge we work with Mediation Surrey. Over 85% of all mediated cases conclude with a positive result.
Mediation Surrey are able to offer services to clients during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Although, in accordance with Government guidelines on social distancing, they are not able to meet clients face-to-face, they can offer coaching and support to clients referred for mediation, either by phone or online. Please consider using this service by completing the online referral forms on their website.
The next step
If speaking or writing to those causing the noise does not work and the disturbances continue, we recommend that before you contact us:
We are only able to investigate the following types of residential or business noise:
Once you make your complaint to us your case will be assigned an officer. They will discuss your complaint with you and decide the most appropriate course of action. This will involve keeping a nuisance diary and working out which legal powers we can use to assist you.
A statutory noise nuisance is more than a mere annoyance and would have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of those affected. Apart from the noise being substantial and unreasonable, numerous other factors are considered by the officer when determining nuisance, such as:
time of day
Where there is an anti-social element to the noise, consideration can be given to using our powers under the Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, to issue a Community Protection Notice (CPN). A CPN would be appropriate if the noise:
The officer's investigation is a legal process and will require good evidence of the noise you have been experiencing. You may also be required to attend court. The law recognises that sometimes it is difficult for local authorities to confirm that there is a statutory nuisance, and so also allows for residents to take their own legal action under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
For further information, please see our Noise policy.