What is a noise complaint?
A noise complaint is a grievance about excessive, disturbing or unreasonable noise coming from a neighbouring property.
Noise complaints can affect people's quality of life, causing physical and emotional stress, sleep disturbance, and a decrease in concentration levels.
Noise costs; it costs individuals their mental health and well-being and it costs landlords in protracted and often futile interventions, multi-agency liaison and staff morale. These costs are underestimated and may be avoidable, to some extent, by adopting the different approaches.
Landlords can read the guidance to learn what to do if they receive a complaint regarding noise nuisance.
Landlord guidance coming soon.
Residents can read the guidance to find out what to do if they need to file a complaint about noise nuisance.
Resident guidance coming soon.
Spotlight on: Noise complaints – time to be heard
Our Spotlight report on noise complaints sheds light on the impact of noise on residents' wellbeing and quality of life. The report includes case studies and recommendations that illustrate the severity of the problem and outline best practice solutions.
Lessons from our Spotlight report on noise
View this document to find out more about the Call for Evidence data that we used in the creation of the report, the landlords and residents we worked with and the key report data.
Podcast with the Centre for Learning
Season 3, episode 1 – Spotlight on noise complaints
In this episode, the Housing Ombudsman Richard Blakeway talks to Victoria Smith, Senior Solicitor at Devonshires, about our Spotlight report into noise complaints.
During the podcast, we look at the key takeaways from the report, including the importance of triage and having an effective neighbourhood policy. The episode also takes a look at the need to revamp the Decent Homes Standard to include internal noise and how landlords can take a more holistic approach to the problem. Finally, Richard Blakeway sets out the main recommendations from the report, and how they can be implemented within organisations.
The case studies are examples from our case work. We will always try to show one example where the landlord did things right and received a finding of no maladministration and an example where a landlord didn’t act in the correct way and received a finding of severe maladministration or maladministration.
After the resident reported the noise to the landlord, it initially responded appropriately. But on the second reporting, despite the resident saying she knew it was not deliberate and simply seeking some soundproofing works, the landlord opened an ASB case.
The landlord did not conduct a risk assessment or start an action plan, and despite the resident’s vulnerabilities, it was not proactive in offering support and monitoring the situation.
The resident often had to chase the landlord for any updates and it took seven months after the initial reporting for the landlord to comment on the outcomes of the noise app recordings she had taken, only for it to tell her it did not meet ASB thresholds.
During the complaint, the landlord’s correspondence towards the resident was often heavy-handed and unsympathetic. It failed to take a victim-centred approach which contributed to a breakdown of trust between the resident and her housing officer.
In this case the landlord consistently listened to the residents’ concerns and acted appropriately and proportionately. The landlord did not take any actions that the resident was not happy with and kept accurate records to ensure that it was providing effective support.
As the reports of noise developed, the landlord continued to listen to the resident and carried out a survey on the building to investigate whether there were structural problems. The outcomes of these surveys was also shared with the resident.
By process of elimination, and without any noise recordings having been submitted, it determined that it was general day to day lifestyle noise, but it remained empathetic towards the resident in its communications and demonstrated a willingness to continue investigating, rather than closing the case due to the lack of evidence.
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When to use the Housing Ombudsman Service
If you are unable to resolve the complaint with your landlord directly via its complaint procedure, this service may be able to provide you with further assistance.
View the residents' pages to find out how to raise and complaint to your landlord and when to escalate your complaint to the Housing Ombudsman Service.