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Housing Solutions (202210859)

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COMPLAINT 202210859

Housing Solutions

18 March 2024

Our approach

The Housing Ombudsman’s approach to investigating and determining complaints is to decide what is fair in all the circumstances of the case. This is set out in the Housing Act 1996 and the Housing Ombudsman Scheme (the Scheme). The Ombudsman considers the evidence and looks to see if there has been any ‘maladministration’, for example whether the landlord has failed to keep to the law, followed proper procedure, followed good practice or behaved in a reasonable and competent manner.

Both the resident and the landlord have submitted information to the Ombudsman and this has been carefully considered. Their accounts of what has happened are summarised below. This report is not an exhaustive description of all the events that have occurred in relation to this case, but an outline of the key issues as a background to the investigation’s findings.

The complaint

  1. The complaint is about the landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of noise nuisance from a neighbour.


  1. The resident is an assured tenant of the landlord, a housing association. The property is a one bedroom bungalow. According to the landlord the resident is currently receiving community support for mental health issues and has other health issues.
  2. The resident claims to have experienced noise nuisance from her neighbour since May 2021. The neighbour’s television is mounted on a wall adjoining the resident’s home. The resident claimed the television is on at all hours, including late at night and early morning which affected her sleep.
  3. From January 2022 until the date of the landlord’s final response the resident reported 9 separate incidents of noise nuisance from the neighbour. In response the landlord provided diary sheets to the resident which it requested she complete and return.
  4. On 6 January 2022 the landlord contacted Environmental Health (EH). It responded advising that having been to the resident’s property and considered the noise from recent monitoring, it was unable to take the resident’s case forward due to a lack of evidence. It found that the noise levels were below what would constitute a statutory nuisance.
  5. The resident raised a formal complaint with the landlord on 27 July 2022 as she was unhappy with the landlord’s lack of action to address the noise. The resident advised the issue had been ongoing for more than a year, and although the landlord had advised the neighbour to relocate the TV or use headphones this had not happened. The resident wished the neighbour’s TV to be removed or for the neighbour to use headphones.
  6. The landlord responded at stage 1 of its complaint procedure on 8 August 2022. It apologised for the impact the ongoing issues had on the resident’s health and it provided a detailed list of the actions taken by the Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) team in response to her reports. These included engaging with the neighbour as well as local police and EH. The landlord had also offered the resident a short term stay in sheltered accommodation as a respite from the noise. The response further explained as EH had advised the level of noise nuisance did not constitute a statutory nuisance the landlord was unable to take further enforcement action. The landlord requested the resident continue to provide diary sheets and work with the ASB team.
  7. On 14 September 2022 the resident requested her complaint be escalated to stage 2 of the landlord’s complaint procedure, as the issue had not been resolved. The landlord responded at stage 2 on 12 October 2022. It reviewed all the actions it had taken since the first noise complaint in May 2021 and did not uphold the resident’s complaint as it was unable to do anything else to reduce the noise. The landlord advised the resident to contact EH to request it re-install sound equipment, as the landlord could only take further action if EH deemed the noise as a statutory nuisance.
  8. On 1 November 2022 the resident requested the complaint be escalated to stage 3 of the complaint procedure as she was still not satisfied with the landlord’s lack of action. The resident stated she believed her neighbour should be evicted.
  9. The landlord’s stage 3 involved a panel meeting which took place on 14 December 2022. Following the meeting the landlord issued a stage 3 response on 21 December 2022. The panel understood the resident’s unhappiness with the ongoing noise; however, it explained that the landlord’s staff had tried a number of solutions to resolve the situation and would continue to do so. The panel did not uphold the resident’s complaint as it believed the landlord’s actions have been extensive and appropriate. However, the panel did make recommendations to support the resident moving forward.
  10. The resident contacted this Service on 29 July 2023 and requested that we investigate as she was unhappy that the landlord has been unable to resolve this situation and would either like the noise nuisance to stop or the neighbour to be rehoused.


Assessment and findings

Scope of the investigation

  1. Information provided to this Service indicates that the resident first reported noise nuisance from the neighbour in May 2021. This investigation, however, will focus on the landlord’s handling of the issue from January 2022, that being 6 months prior to the resident’s initial complaint on 27 July 2022 until the landlord’s final complaint response, issued on 21 December 2022. Events reported, and actions taken by the landlord outside of this period may be referred to in this report for context.
  2. This is in line with paragraph 42 (c) of the Scheme which states that the Ombudsman may not consider complaints which, in the Ombudsman’s opinion, were not brought to the attention of the landlord by way of formal complaint within a reasonable period which would normally be within 6 months of the matters arising.
  3. The Ombudsman notes that the resident suggested that the landlord’s failure to resolve the reported noise had negatively affected her health. The Ombudsman appreciates the reported noise has been longstanding and a suitable resolution has not yet been found. Unfortunately, it is beyond the expertise of the Service to reasonably determine a causal link between the landlord’s actions or inactions and the deterioration of the resident’s health. The Ombudsman has therefore made no comments in relation to this. Should the resident wish to pursue this matter, legal advice will need to be sought. However, consideration has been given to the general distress and inconvenience that may have been caused to the resident.

Policies and Procedures

  1. The landlord does not have a separate policy to deal with noise nuisance, reports of noise nuisance are dealt with via the landlord’s ASB policy. According to the landlord’s policy, it may use evidence such as diary sheets, statements, and information from the police when investigating ASB. The policy states the landlord will adopt a problem-solving approach in its management of incident reports and work towards resolution wherever possible. The landlord may develop an action plan to address ongoing ASB. Other remedies include verbal warnings, written warnings, mediation, acceptable behaviour agreements, referral to support agencies, or eviction. When carrying out investigations, the landlord will consider the risks to a resident, and whether a resident requires specific support.

The landlords handling of the resident’s reports of noise nuisance

  1. It is acknowledged that this situation has been distressing to the resident. Our role is to consider whether the landlord responded to the resident’s reports of noise nuisance in accordance with its relevant policies and procedures, and whether its actions were fair and reasonable in all the circumstances of the case. 
  2. Both the landlord and the resident had previously contacted the EH on multiple occasions. In January 2022 EH contacted both parties to advise it would be taking no further action due to lack of evidence. As EH had decided the reported noise did not reach the level of a statutory nuisance, the landlord advised in its stage 1 response it was unable to take any enforcement action. This is a reasonable position for the landlord to take, when considering enforcement action, it is necessary for a landlord to gather evidence to support this action, in cases of noise nuisance the evidence of outside parties is crucial.
  3. Throughout March 2022 the landlord continued to liaise with outside agencies to resolve the issue. Following a visit from the local police as a result of a report by the neighbour the landlord followed-up by contacting the police to obtain further information on the incident. In late March it held a meeting with both the NHS and the local council to discuss the resident’s situation. This approach is outlined in the landlord’s ASB policy as Working in partnership, “Housing Solutions works closely with a number of agencies to address ASB. This includes sharing information; supporting victims; multi-agency meetings; joint resolution as to how to deal with persistent and high-level cases of anti-social behaviour; promoting tolerance.”
  4. In April 2022, at the request of the resident’s support worker, the landlord agreed to assist the resident in the re-arrangement of her home in an attempt to reduce the impact of the reported noise. Unfortunately, this appointment was cancelled by the resident due to ill health. Nevertheless, this clearly demonstrated the landlord’s willingness to assist the resident in resolving this dispute and mitigate the impact of the reported noise. Here the landlord acted in line with its ASB policy “Where behaviour remains unchanged or entrenched, the investigating officer can work with our partner agencies to agree alternative approaches.”
  5. Between January and December 2022, the landlord engaged in regular contact with the resident to update her on its actions. In April 2022 in response to the concerns highlighted by the resident in a series of phone calls in June 2022, it sent a letter to the resident on 14 July 2022 detailing the actions it had taken to date, the contents of which were also summarised in the landlord’s stage 1 complaint response.
  6. The landlord also continued to engage with the neighbour, it contacted the local council in July 2022 to enquire whether further social care could be provided, which was ultimately unsuccessful. A further meeting with the neighbour was held in October 2022 at which the Mental Health advocate for the neighbour was also present. The landlord engagement continued in December 2022 when the neighbour declined the landlord’s offer of a headset for use with her TV to reduce the noise. At this meeting the neighbour indicated her desire to move to a nearby area, the landlord followed this up by hand delivering a housing application for the neighbour to the appropriate local authority in January 2023.
  7. In an effort to resolve the issue, the landlord continued to request the resident complete diary sheets it provided to the resident. It is unclear from the information provided in this case whether the resident returned completed sheets within the timeframe examined in this report, however, the landlord’s requests are in accordance with its ASB policy relating to managing ASB, “through investigation and evidence gathering and by supporting residents in gathering evidence”.
  8. In November 2022 the landlord contacted both parties with a proposal of mediation. While the neighbour accepted this the resident declined. Although unsuccessful, the attempt to organise mediation between the parties clearly demonstrated the landlord’s proactive communication and engagement. This is also a measure outlined in its ASB policy as a Restorative approach, “Housing Solutions may suggest a restorative meeting between parties where both parties agree to this approach. This approach brings those harmed by conflict and those responsible into managed communication and enables everyone affected by an incident to have a part in finding a positive way forward”. This attempt by the landlord demonstrated its ongoing commitment to find a resolution to the reported noise issue.
  9. The resident queried why her reports which caused her significant distress had not resulted in her neighbour’s eviction. The landlord appears to have looked into this and came to the conclusion that it did not have sufficient evidence to enforce such action. Legal proceedings against the neighbour on the grounds of noise nuisance require satisfactory evidence of the nuisance, and the landlord is entitled to rely on the evidence of the EH that the reported noise did not meet the level of a statutory nuisance. While this was not the outcome the resident wanted, it was reasonable for the landlord to explain this.
  10. As the landlord was not given evidence to show that the noise the resident was experiencing was a statutory noise nuisance, it was reasonable for the landlord to not have taken such action against the neighbour following the resident’s reports. For the landlord to take formal action against the neighbour, it requires sufficient supporting evidence that the behaviour is continuing to cause significant nuisance and/or harm to others and has occurred over a prolonged period of time. 
  11. Following a panel meeting with the resident the landlord issued its stage 3 final response in which it outlined further recommendations to support the resident. These recommendations were in line with the landlord’s ASB policy which states, in respect to complainants it would “[manage] cases proactively using all options open to us and our partners to deliver a resolution which is satisfactory to victims…”. These recommendations included the installation of acoustic panelling, which were installed on 27 July 2023; an offer to purchase noise defenders for the resident, to help dampen the reported impact of the noise to the resident’s sleep; as well as continuing to investigate the voluntary rehousing of the resident’s neighbour. As stated in the stage 3 response these steps are indicative of the landlord’s attempt to comply with its ASB policy and continue to work towards a solution for the resident.
  12. While it is noted the landlord was unable to prevent further instances of reported noise nuisance, it acted within its policy and took proactive and solution-focused steps. There is no evidence that the landlord treated the resident unfavourably. It balanced its actions proportionately and it acted fairly in all of the circumstances.
  13. The resident has informed this Service that the reported noise nuisance is still ongoing. She has advised that although she has made contact with the landlord regarding the recent incidents, she has not received a response. With this in mind a recommendation has been made below.


  1. In accordance with paragraph 52 of the Scheme, there was no maladministration in relation to the landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of noise nuisance from a neighbour.

Orders and recommendations


  1. The Ombudsman recommends that the landlord re-visits the Spotlight report on noise nuisance, available on the Service’s website. The Ombudsman’s “Spotlight on: Noise Complaints” report highlights that it is not always appropriate to investigate noise complaints through a landlord’s antisocial behaviour (ASB) policy. Noise complaints often require a tailored approach that is appropriate to the circumstances of each complaint. The landlord should consider this and take the recommendations made in the report on board to improve its service.
  2. The Ombudsman recommends that the landlord makes contact with the resident regarding her most recent reports of noise nuisance.