Report a noise problem

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 lettersfor 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 North Surrey. Over 85% of all mediated cases conclude with a positive result.

The next step

If speaking or writing to those causing the noise does not work, we recommend that before you contact us:

  • you start keeping a record of when the noise occurs and how long it lasts, so that you have evidence ready in advance.

  • We suggest gathering at least 2-3 weeks' worth of evidence.

  • You can use both our noise nuisance recording sheetand our noise app (available for both iPhoneand Android).

Council investigation

We are only able to investigate the following types of residential or business noise,:

  • barking dogs

  • car alarms

  • noise from building work

  • DIY noise

  • burglar alarms

  • loud music/parties

  • noise from pubs/clubs

  • noise from commercial premises

Once you make your complaint to us your case will be assigned an officer. They will look at your record and decide the most appropriate course of action. This will involve working out which legal powers we can use to assist you.

Statutory nuisance

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:

  • location

  • time of day

  • frequency

  • duration

  • intensity

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:

  • is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life of those in the locality

  • is persistent

  • is unreasonable 

Investigation law

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.

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