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Noise matters

26/06/2013

What you can do if noise is a problem

The most important thing to do is to let your neighbour know at an early stage that the noise is bothering you. Most people don’t mean to irritate their neighbours and will not be aware that they are causing a problem. Try to be calm and friendly and make it as easy as you can for your neighbour to understand your point of view.

If this isn’t successful, we can offer you access to a mediation service. Mediation is a free service and involves a trained and independent mediator being appointed who will meet with you and your neighbour. The mediator does not have any legal powers and they cannot make any binding decisions for you; they are simply there to help to open up communication and help you both to find acceptable ways forward. Mediation is something that both you and your neighbour would need to agree to do. It cannot be imposed but it can be very successful in helping to resolve issues like noise. We can arrange this for you free of charge.


Top tips

  1. Let your neighbour know that you are experiencing a problem
  2. Remain calm - assume that your neighbour will want to help
  3. Be specific - explain the type of noise and when it upsets you
  4. Consider mediation as a way to help to find a solution
  5. Be a good neighbour yourself, don’t get drawn into personal disputes about noise
  6. Contact your local authority noise team to help if the noise is unreasonable. Richmond Council: 0208 891 7737 or Hounslow Council: 0208 583 5555
  7. Contact the police if you feel that there is a danger or a criminal issue
  8. Talk to your Customer Advisor (CA)


What RHP can do

We have a contract with our tenants and leaseholders which means that as long as customers abide by the terms of their tenancy or lease, we do not interfere in customers’ lives. As we have noted, most noise is just a fact of living close to others. So, we would not get involved if the noise that is bothering you is caused by everyday living such as children playing, doors opening and closing, talking, toilets flushing, footsteps or running on floors.

There are some instances where RHP will definitely act to support customers who are experiencing a serious problem. This will be when the nature or pattern of noise is something which causes a legal nuisance and we are able to take formal action. A legal nuisance usually means that the noise is severe, persistent, unreasonable and attempts made by you to address the issue informally have not been responded to. For example, if your neighbour regularly has loud parties and you have spoken to them about this and reported it to the noise nuisance team on more than one occasion without success we may be able to help. Contact your Customer Advisor or our Customer Contact Centre for more advice.

Customers sometimes ask us about additional sound insulation for their homes. Our homes were mostly built at a time when sound insulation standards were not specific and were certainly much lower than the current building regulations would require. However, there is often no legal requirement for RHP to bring homes up to a higher standard or to install more sound insulation even if you are experiencing a problem. As new sound insulation in older properties is very expensive and often ineffective, we do not normally consider this.


Be a good neighbour

As we have said, noise is a normal part of life - particularly in flats - and we all have our part to play in trying to be considerate. You can do your bit by simply thinking about the impact that noise may have on others around you and by responding positively if a neighbour lets you know that there is a problem. Some specific things which often cause difficulty are:

  • Playing music or televisions very loudly - particularly late at night or early in the morning
  • Placing speakers on the floor as this allows sound to travel through to your neighbour’s home
  • Having parties without telling your neighbours in advance
  • Changing your floor to a hard / wooden floor - which carries more sound than carpets
  • Doing DIY - especially for long periods of time at the weekend or on bank holidays
  • Coming and going in communal areas late at night or early in the day
  • Leaving dogs alone or outside for long periods when they can bark and disturb others

Please be thoughtful and try not to do things which will upset or disturb those around you - and then you can reasonably expect that they will be considerate to you too.