Officers from Environmental Health can investigate complaints and offer advice on noise from premises. This can include: barking dogs live or recorded music televisions We cannot investigate noise from people in the road, road traffic or vehicle stereos. What can I do about a domestic noise nuisance? Many people do not realise that they may be causing a noise problem. For this reason, we strongly encourage you to approach the person and politely tell them about the problem. The information below, and template letter, may assist you in doing this and may resolve your complaint without the need for formal investigation by Wirral Council officers. First Step Example letter (PDF, 43KB) The PDF file may not be suitable to view for people with disabilities, users of assistive technology or mobile phone devices. If the person causing the disturbance lives in a property managed by a housing association or registered social landlord or in a private rented property, it is worth you discussing the problem with the landlord. Most Conditions of Tenancy include a requirement that tenants do not cause disturbance to neighbours. The landlord may be prepared to take action. If you do not get a positive response, do not feel you can comfortably speak to your neighbour, or the noise continues to regularly disturb you then you can report it to us. You need to know that for officers to take action against noise disturbances they have to determine if a statutory nuisance exists. What is a Statutory Nuisance? A statutory nuisance is not simply something that annoys you - it is something that causes a serious and unreasonable interference with your right to enjoy your home. When determining whether a noise problem amounts to a statutory nuisance the officer will assess several criteria such as: the level and type of noise how long it lasts how often the noise occurs the time of day or night when the noise occurs whether any aggravating characteristics are present the characteristics of your location the number of persons affected how it affects you When undertaking an investigation of a noise complaint, we do so from the point of view of the average person. We cannot take into account any particular sensitivities that you may have such as, sleeping during the day, medical reasons etc. What type of noise can we investigate? Domestic noise we can investigate Domestic noise we can't investigate Loud music and radios Traffic noise or vehicle stereos Loud TVs Aircraft noise Barking dogs and pet noises Children playing inside or out Intruder alarms General domestic or living noises, for example, normal use of domestic appliances, talking, footsteps, moving furniture etc. Excessive DIY works Noise generally transmitted due to poor sound insulation Unsociable use of musical instruments Noisy behaviour in the street or public places Unsociable use of, or defective domestic appliances causing excessive noise Disturbances due to anti-social behaviour What you need to know before we investigate We are unable to investigate anonymous complaints as, by law, we must know who is, or who is likely to be, affected by the noise disturbances. We will make every effort to maintain your anonymity, but you need to be aware that the person you are complaining about can sometimes work out who has complained. If the investigation results in legal action your name and address may have to be revealed in court and it may be necessary for you to appear in court and give evidence. It is likely that we will need to access your property to carry out an assessment of the noise disturbances. If access is denied, it is unlikely that we will be able to investigate your complaint. Making a complaint If an informal approach does not work, or is not possible, and you wish to complain to Environmental Health, then you can use the link at the bottom of this web page to report a noise nuisance. We will then ask you to complete diary sheets (which we can send to you, or you can download from this page) for a minimum of 14 days. Completed diary sheets are an important part of the investigation and can be used as evidence in any formal action that might be taken. Please read the instructions on the diary sheets carefully. It is important that you provide enough information in the diary sheets for the investigating officer to make an assessment of statutory nuisance. Without enough information in the diary sheets, we may not be able to investigate your complaint further. Once you have reported a noise nuisance to Environmental Health, completed diary sheets can be returned via email to email@example.com or by post to: Environmental Health Wirral Council PO Box 290 Brighton Street Wallasey CH27 9FQ We would encourage you to return the diary sheets by email. It may also be advisable for you to keep a copy of the diary sheets for your own records. If following your complaint you do not return your diary sheets within 6 weeks, we will be unable to progress your complaint and your case will be closed. Download diary sheets (PDF, 123KB) The PDF file may not be suitable to view for people with disabilities, users of assistive technology or mobile phone devices. What happens once your diary sheets are returned to the council? Once we receive your completed diary sheets your complaint will be allocated to an officer. The officer will carry out an assessment of your diary sheets to see if the noise disturbances indicate that a statutory nuisance may exist. If the diary sheets demonstrate that a statutory nuisance may exist, the officer will then look to further investigate. In most cases we will write to the person causing the noise, providing general advice, and giving them the opportunity to reduce the noise disturbances. In many cases this will resolve the problem. We will let you know when we have written. If you don’t contact us within six weeks to advise the noise disturbances are continuing, we will assume the warning letter has been effective and your case will be closed. If the noise disturbances continue, the officer will need to witness the noise disturbances by undertaking some form of monitoring. Monitoring can be undertaken by officers visiting your property, both internally and externally, and by the use of noise monitoring equipment installed in your property. Which type of monitoring will be used will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may consist of a combination of the different monitoring types. Officers will use your diary sheets to help determine the type of monitoring that is most suitable and the best times in which carry it out. In most cases officers will only undertake a maximum of up to three monitoring visits, in an attempt to witness the noise disturbances. What happens after monitoring? An officer will assess all the information collected as part of the monitoring and throughout the investigation of your complaint. If in the officer’s professional opinion, a statutory nuisance is established they will serve a Noise Abatement Notice on the person causing or responsible for the noise, requiring them to abate the noise. At any stage during the investigation, if in the officer’s professional opinion, they determine that a statutory nuisance does not or is unlikely to exist, we will advise you. What if the officers decide that the noise is not a Statutory Nuisance? You can take your own private action via the Magistrates Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This process can be carried out without legal advice, but we would advise you to speak to a solicitor. If you wish to consider this route, there are a number of key stages that you will need to follow including: write to the source causing the noise, informing them of the type of disturbance you are suffering and that you intend to seek legal advice if the disturbance continues. keep a record of evidence to show; a description of the nuisance; when it occurs; how long it lasts and how it affects you, for example, diary sheets write to the source causing the noise, giving them at least three days notice of your intention to proceed to the Magistrates Court contact the Clerk to the Justice at the Magistrates Court who will arrange a time for you to visit the court to show the evidence to a Magistrate the Magistrate Court decides what action can be taken Read about Taking Private Action - Section 82 of The Environmental Protection Act 1990 (PDF, 145KB) I've been told I'm causing a noise nuisance - what can I do? Take a moment to consider what impact you may be having on those living around you. Put yourself in the position of your neighbours. Be aware that they might have a different lifestyle than you and that your behaviour could be unreasonable as a result. If there could be an element of truth to the complaint then simply be aware of the type of noise being complained of. Take sensible steps to reduce the amount of noise you make. For example, if you think you may have played your music a bit loud then just be mindful that your neighbours have been able to hear it sufficiently loudly and clearly and were sufficiently annoyed to register a complaint. Not doing it again will make the complaint go away. Find out more about reducing different types of noise. Noise prevention advice Barking dogs Why have my neighbours complained about my dog? Barking is normal and natural behaviour for dogs. If it happens often and for long periods of time it can be very annoying, especially to your neighbours. Dogs often bark when their owners are out, so you may not realise how much of a disturbance it can be. It isn’t nice to be complained about but your dog is your responsibility and it’s part of responsible dog ownership to ensure your dogs barking is not causing a problem. Why is my dog barking when I’m not around? Dogs often bark to relieve the stress of being left alone. Some bark when excited, for example when visitors arrive at the door or when a stranger walks past the house or garden. What can I do about the barking in the short term? We advise the following: make sure your dog gets enough exercise. Take it for a walk before your leave the house- a tired dog barks less if your dog barks at things outside the house, keep it away from doors and windows so it can’t see what’s going on outside don’t leave your dog outside if all it will do all day is bark to come in keep your dog calm. Don’t overexcite your dog before you leave the house get a friend or neighbour to let the dog out or take it for a walk if you’re going out all day leave the radio on at a low volume and tune it to a talk station, so your dog thinks it has company in the house consider using a citronella anti-bark collar What about in the long term? We advise the following: seek further advice. Speak to your vet who may refer your dog to an animal behaviourist consider attending training or obedience classes with your dog. Speak to other dog owners to find a good class. You will probably enjoy the classes as much as your dog will! animal charities provide useful information and advice on excessive barking, separation and anxiety and unusual behaviour General domestic noise Noise from TVs, amplified music and parties Noise from loud TVs, amplified music and parties can cause most disturbance during the evening when the background noise level is often lower and people are more likely to be trying to relax and sleep. Some tenancy agreements or leases may state hours after which no music is to be played. To avoid causing a nuisance, follow these simple rules: keep the volume down, particularly any base, especially at night or early morning place speakers away from partition walls, floors or ceilings. Standing these on an insulating material can reduce transmission of sound if you are having a party, consider inviting the neighbours. Keep windows and doors closed, and if someone complains, turn it down with personal entertainment, for example toys, computer games - be considerate and keep the volume down. Avoid using them in the same room where someone is watching TV or listening to the radio. Turning the volume up may disturb your neighbours when entertaining in the garden remember that sound travels. Avoid amplified music outdoors Your garden Gardens are a place to relax - with a bit of consideration you can keep them peaceful: power tools in the garden should be used with discretion - avoid strimming or shredding when your neighbours are trying to relax in the sunshine think before installing features in your garden that make a noise - the splashing fountain or tinkling chimes might soothe you on a sunny afternoon, but could drive your neighbours mad at night Domestic appliances We use more and more appliances to help us with the housework - and they can be very noisy. Where you put them and when you use them can make all the difference: make sure washing machines, fridges and dishwashers are away from party walls and on a carpet or mat to reduce vibration - especially if you live in a flat use noisy appliances at sensible times - during normal waking hours. Hoovering in the early hours would be considered unreasonable consider those at home - if hoovering or using a food processor then shutting doors will avoid the necessity for others in the house to turn up the TV or music if buying a new appliance consider the low noise option. Some products, such as vacuum cleaners, lawn mowers, washing machines etc. have a noise rating - if they haven't, ask why. Your home The construction and layout of your home can cause problems within your home and to your neighbours: avoid slamming doors and thundering up and down stairs - especially if you live in a flat or terraced house when considering options for flooring, be considerate. Many leases prohibit stripped floors or hard surfaces - for good reason if you have stripped or laminate flooring, take off heavy shoes or boots. Socks or slippers will reduce noise if installing laminated flooring, make sure you use sound insulating underlay sounds travel between walls, be aware of what's next door. If you can, avoid having noisy spaces (kitchen, living room) adjacent to quiet spaces (bedroom, study) DIY Most people have tasks which need doing around the home, especially if you have just moved in, or are redecorating. We accept that many people have ‘9 to 5’ jobs during the day and need to do DIY work in the evenings and at weekends. However, this does not mean you can disturb neighbours at all hours of the day and night or allow DIY work to simply go on and on. We all have to be reasonable in our behaviour towards others. Think! Would you be happy if your neighbour started drilling and hammering at 9pm or at 7.30am on a Sunday morning? Consider how much noise your job is going to generate and have a plan of how you will deal with it before you start. Speak with your neighbours. Explain that the work is something you must do and apologise in advance of any disturbance your work might cause them. Simple information, such as how much work you have to do and how long it might last for, can go a long way to maintaining relations with them. Be sure to tell them that if the noise is bothering them then they should speak to you first and let you know so that you can do something about it. Most importantly, if they do come to you and say it is a problem – do something about it! There are no set times between which works can or cannot be done but you should always make sure you do the work during reasonable times. If you must do the work in the evening’s midweek, start and finish as early as possible. Consider the fact that most people look forward to having a lie in at weekends so don’t start too early in the morning. We usually suggest reasonable times to be: 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm Saturday and 10am to 4pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays. If DIY work has already been undertaken in preceding workdays (i.e. Monday to Saturday) then we would generally recommend that no work should be undertaken on Sundays and Bank Holidays. Whether or not noise from DIY activities is causing a nuisance comes very much down to the time of day that it is being done and whether or not it can be considered reasonable. Generally, works carried out during the day will cause fewer nuisances than those done early in the morning or late at night. Drum Kits Annoyance is most likely to be caused if drums are excessively loud, are played too often or for prolonged periods of time. To reduce annoyance from playing drums, do not play drums; for more than 45 minutes in any one day. in any room adjoining a neighbouring property. in any room with windows or doors open. after 6pm or before 8am Monday to Friday (or after 4pm or before 10am on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays). outside timescales previously agreed with your neighbours. within 100m of noise sensitive premises. use sound proofed practice rooms wherever possible. where possible use practice pads when drumming and don’t use amplifiers when playing other types of instrument. If you are considering buying a new or replacement drum kit, consider an electronic set. The advantages of electronic drum kits are: electronic drums are virtually silent when played electronic drum sets are compact, lightweight and portable with electronic drums you can add digital effects that simulate the greatest concert hall settings electronic drum kits offer hundreds of percussion sounds as well as drum sounds you can play as loud as you want with headphones some sets have dozens of songs built in to play along with many electronic drum modules can record your performances Crowing cockerels There are no nationwide restrictions to prevent you from keeping poultry, but some individual properties do have covenants which provide an obstacle. You'll need to check the deeds of your property to find out if this applies to you. The following practical measures may be suggested to prevent your birds causing disturbance to your neighbours: if you are not going to breed from your birds, you do not need to keep a cockerel. You don't need to keep a cockerel for your hens to produce eggs during the breeding season the number of cockerels can get out of hand. Be realistic and only keep the cockerels you require as replacement stock think carefully about the positioning of the poultry houses. Do not place them near to houses if at all possible provide the birds with a house where the light entering it has been eliminated as a far as possible. Always remember that the birds will require ventilation in their housing lock your birds up at night and let them out after 8am, if possible, to reduce the risk of noise from cockerels crowing early in the morning keeping the coop as dark as possible to minimise early morning crowing lowering the ceiling height of the coop will prevent the cockerel from throwing back its head and crowing sound proof the housing if possible try to explain your hobby to your neighbours and invite them round to see the birds. A gift of a dozen eggs always goes down well! if a complaint is made try to co-operate with the officer dealing with the case, show him/her what measures you are taking to reduce the noise from cockerels Report a noise nuisance Report a noise nuisance Aircraft noise To make a complaint about aircraft noise, visit the Liverpool John Lennon Airport website.