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London Borough of Barking and Dagenham (202208581)

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COMPLAINT 202208581

London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

22 January 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:
    1. The landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of noise nuisance from a neighbour.
    2. The landlord’s communication with the resident.


  1. The resident holds a secure tenancy with the landlord which began on 20 September 1993. She lives in a 2bedroom parlour style terraced house. Her neighbours live in the next door property which is private rented. Records show that the neighbours moved in on 26 June 2022.
  2. The resident reported noise nuisance on a couple of occasions in 2020 and 2021 about previous neighbours who occupied the next door property.
  3. On 29 July 2022, the Ombudsman raised a complaint on behalf of the resident. The Ombudsman clarified that the complaint was about noise nuisance from neighbours including banging noises and DIY after 11pm until the early hours of the morning.
  4. The landlord issued a stage 1 complaint response on 2 September 2022. In summary it said:
    1. The antisocial behaviour (ASB) team and noise nuisance teams had received 1 report of noise nuisance on 20 July 2022 about the recent tenants who had moved in.
    2. The landlord visited the property on 1 September 2022 where advice was provided to the resident.
    3. The resident agreed to provide sound recordings and diary sheets. Once this was received, an assessment would take place.
    4. There was insufficient evidence to act against the neighbours.
  5. The resident escalated her complaint on 12 September 2022. She said she contacted the landlord about the noise nuisance on more occasions than it had said. She was dissatisfied that the landlord had not acted in response to her concerns, and she requested noise monitoring equipment.
  6. The landlord issued a stage 2 response on 24 November 2022. In summary it said:
    1. Noise monitoring equipment had been installed and the results were sent to the resident on 31 October 2022.
    2. Noise experts reviewed the recordings and were satisfied that the recordings did not show the likely occurrence of statutory noise nuisance. It was unable to approve a further period of monitoring.
    3. It was limited on what action it could take against the neighbours as there was no evidence of wrongdoing.
    4. It had spoken to the resident about options to move and discussed a rent deposit scheme.
  7. The resident referred her complaint to the Ombudsman on 6 December 2022. She remains unhappy at the landlord’s lack of response to her noise reports. As a resolution, she wants the landlord to move her to alternative accommodation.

Assessment and findings

Scope of the investigation

  1. The Ombudsman has been provided with correspondence relating to reports of historical incidents of noise nuisance from the resident’s neighbours dating from 2020 to December 2023. However, under the Housing Ombudsman Scheme, we may not consider complaints that were not brought to the landlord’s attention as a formal complaint within a reasonable period of normally within 6 months of the matters arising. As the formal complaint was logged on 29 July 2022, and no reports were made prior to this in 2022, the investigation will focus on the landlord’s actions in response to the resident’s reports from July 2022 up to the landlord’s final response in November 2022.


The landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of noise nuisance from a neighbour.

  1. It is important to note that it is not the purpose of this report to investigate any of the alleged noise nuisance itself, to apportion blame, or to assess the credibility of the reports made by the resident. The Ombudsman’s role is to consider whether the landlord responded appropriately to the resident’s reports by adhering to its policies, procedures, and any agreements with the resident. And that the landlord behaved reasonably, taking account of what is fair in all the circumstances of the case. In this case, the relevant landlord information is its ASB Policy and webpage on noise nuisance.
  2. The landlord’s webpage on noise nuisance says that noise is handled by its environmental enforcement team. When assessing noise reports, it will consider a range of factors including the duration, frequency, impact, environment, motive, and sensitivity. It adds that statutory noise nuisance relies on the concept of the average person and is not designed to take account of unusual sensibilities. The landlord can only act where there is evidence that a statutory nuisance is occurring.
  3. The landlord’s ASB Policy outlines that it expects private landlords to ensure that ASB is addressed at the earliest opportunity and dealt with appropriately. It can take formal action against landlords who fail to do so.
  4. Following an ASB report being made, the landlord commits to interview the resident, complete an action plan, and risk assessment. It adopts a multi-agency approach and works with other agencies such as the police, safeguarding, environmental enforcement, and mental health services.
  5. Throughout July 2022 and August 2022, the resident made reports of noise nuisance from her neighbours who had recently moved in. In response, the landlord conducted a home visit to the resident in July 2022. It provided her with options to move to alternative accommodation. The resident had complained about noise nuisance on and off since 2020 in relation to previous tenants in the property. Therefore, as the matter was long standing and the resident had requested to move, it was appropriate to offer advice on alternative housing options. It advised the resident that she should send evidence of the reported noise nuisance to the noise team in the form of diary sheets and recordings.
  6. The resident’s noise reports consisted of relentless loud bangs on her walls, fence, and DIY noises late at night which affected her and her son’s sleep. She submitted diary sheets and recordings to the landlord.
  7. From 1 September 2022 until 24 September 2022, the landlord took the following steps to investigate the noise allegations:
    1. Discussed the reported noise nuisance with the resident.
    2. Completed a joint visit with the ASB team and environmental enforcement team.
    3. Carried out a risk assessment and ASB action plan with the resident.
    4. Completed enquiries with the police following the resident making reports.
    5. Advised the resident to contact her GP and offered a referral in relation to her escalating anxiety.
    6. Installed noise monitoring equipment in the resident’s property.
  8. These were all reasonable steps to engage with other agencies and use its own resources to try to evidence the noise that the resident had reported. The actions were in line with the landlord’s policy.
  9. The landlord advised in its stage 2 complaint response that it had reviewed all evidence the resident had submitted. Given it had requested the resident to send in her own noise recordings, the Ombudsman would expect the landlord to create and maintain clear records of what noises were heard from the resident’s submissions. However, the Service has not seen such records. Considering this, the landlord is recommended to maintain clear records when reviewing evidence of noise submitted by residents.
  10. The Ombudsman accepts that with personal recordings it can be difficult to verify the level of noise, the location, and the time or date it was recorded. Therefore, its decision to install noise monitoring equipment to further investigate the reported noise was appropriate.
  11. The environmental enforcement team wrote to the resident on 28 October 2022 with its assessment of the noises from the noise monitoring equipment. Within the letter, they included details of selected recordings from a range of dates. They advised that out of the total 225 recordings, 93 were made up solely of background noises such as a ticking clock, TV, humming noise, and traffic. They added that the rest were made up of irregular taps which were not associated with banging on the wall. They were recorded as low level and had to be replayed to hear them. Environmental enforcement concluded that the noises were not consistent with the neighbour banging on the walls and did not show the likely occurrence of noise nuisance. It was appropriate for the landlord to confirm these findings in its stage 2 complaint response.
  12. The resident raised concerns with the landlord that she had not received the full results from the noise monitoring equipment. She said that only certain dates were mentioned on the report. However, the outcome letter confirmed that 225 recordings were submitted and analysed. As the resident remains uncertain about the validity of the results, the landlord is recommended to respond to any questions she has about this matter to reassure her.
  13. In accordance with its policy, the landlord can only act where there is evidence that statutory noise nuisance is occurring. The landlord considered all the evidence and was unable to substantiate the noise claims. Therefore, it was reasonable for the landlord to inform the resident that it could not take any action against the next-door neighbour. The Ombudsman is satisfied that the landlord completed thorough investigations and formed an evidence-based conclusion.
  14. Landlord records show that the landlord offered ongoing support to the resident in response to her request to be moved to alternative accommodation due to the reported noise. The landlord sent her a letter about her housing options on 22 July 2022 and discussed these further during its home visits. Records show the resident expressed an interest in moving near her family and the landlord offered to pay the deposit towards a private rented property. As she continued reporting noise nuisance, it was appropriate that the landlord engaged with the resident on her moving options.
  15. The Ombudsman does not underestimate the distress the situation would have caused to the resident, and it is clear that the reported noise had an impact on her. However, when dealing with the noise reports the landlord conducted a thorough investigation which was in line with its ASB policy. Considering the above, there was no maladministration in relation to the landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of noise nuisance from her neighbour.

The landlord’s communication with the resident.

  1. The Ombudsman identified that the resident sent several emails to the landlord which included recordings of the reported noise. However, the landlord failed to respond to most of these. It is noted that on a couple of occasions the landlord said it would forward her emails to the noise team. However, no responses were issued from the noise team. The resident subsequently reported that she felt ignored. The Service’s Spotlight report on noise (available at: Spotlight on: Noise Complaints -October 2022 ( highlights the importance of landlords providing ongoing, and consistent communication. The landlord’s lack of responses to the resident’s reports were unacceptable.
  2. Further, the Ombudsman has not seen records to suggest that the landlord set the resident’s expectations about its role when responding to her noise complaints. It did not explain its limitations when responding to the noise reports given that the neighbour’s property was owned by a private landlord.
  3. The Ombudsman’s Spotlight report on noise outlines that resident’s expectations should be set at an early stage around what the likely outcome of a noise report would be. It continues that it should make its timescales and processes clear to the resident. In this case, the landlord did not set the resident’s expectations at an early stage. The landlord is ordered to review its current process and consider how it can set expectations with residents at an early stage when responding to noise complaints.
  4. The Ombudsman identified some good practice in the landlord’s communication with the resident. For example, it swiftly communicated the findings from the noise monitoring equipment to the resident within a letter and reiterated the information in its complaint responses. It also effectively communicated with the resident in response to her request to move.
  5. Overall, the landlord failed to consistently communicate with the resident, particularly in response to her noise submissions. This would have caused distress and inconvenience to the resident. To put things right, the landlord is ordered to compensate the resident £150.


  1. In accordance with paragraph 52 of the Housing Ombudsman Scheme there was:
    1. No maladministration regarding the landlord’s handling of the resident’s reports of noise nuisance from a neighbour.
    2. Service failure regarding the landlord’s communication with the resident.

Orders and recommendations


  1. The landlord is ordered to compensate the resident £150 for the distress and inconvenience caused by the landlord’s communication failings identified in this report.
  2. The landlord is ordered to review the current provision of staff training, supervision, guidance and support and whether this is conducive to ensuring a high standard of customer care. Particular consideration should be given to how confident and equipped staff feel in having difficult conversations, including managing expectations and delivering unwelcome news.
  3. The landlord should provide evidence of compliance with the above orders to the Ombudsman within 4 weeks from the date of the report.



  1. The landlord is recommended to respond to the resident’s ongoing concerns about the results of the noise monitoring equipment.
  2. The landlord is recommended to retain clear records of noise recordings submitted by residents. This is to ensure robust investigations.