'Approach carefully' How to get neighbours to turn the music down

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However, with the increase in time people spending time outside, there can be issues that arise – particularly amongst neighbours. For instance, some people will see the change in the weather as a good reason to sit outdoors and enjoy the peace and quiet. For others, it means having friends over and playing music outdoors. So what can you do if you think your enjoyment of the nice weather is being spoiled by your neighbour? 

Is it really a problem?

The answer is yes. Noise complaints can become something that people fall out over, and cause frustration on both sides of the argument.

A thread on a Facebook page (the Spotted Newark) demonstrates the dilemma, reports Nottinghamshire Live. When discussing the issue, one person wrote: “First bit of sunshine and out comes the ‘bang bang’ so-called music. All bloody afternoon and carrying on.”

They were not the only people to take to social media to point out the problem.

The post went on: “How about asking neighbours first if they want to listen to it all day and all evening? Rather than making people feel they would be classed as wrong for knocking on the door and asking to turn it down. Some of us work and want a peaceful day in the garden.”

They added: “Hate feeling awkward and quite frankly, scared to ask for it to be turned down. You may like your “music” .. but don’t expect your neighbour to!”

The reaction to this was split down the middle between those thinking the poster had a point, and those thinking they needed to lighten up.

“Stop complaining about small things,” said one social media user. While another said: “Selfish people disturbing the peace and ruining people’s day off is not a ‘small thing’.”

The debate continued: “Neighbours have zero respect these days so I wouldn’t be surprised if I was you”. Another added: “I’ve never understood the correlation between sunshine and dubstep music, I don’t find it super relaxing tbh.”

Joining in the conversation, someone else wrote: “I quite like it when the neighbours play music when I’m outside on a day like today, saves me the bother and electric, to be honest. Sometimes a banging tune comes on I would never have thought to put on my playlist, some don’t suit my taste but I just wait for the next one to come on.”

What should I do if I’m unhappy about the music?

A direct approach is often the most successful, and is indeed the one advocated by many local councils as the best course of action. You should approach your neighbour in the first instance and discuss the matter to see if you can reach a resolution. 

For example, Nottingham City Council says: “If you are being disturbed by noise from a neighbour, firstly consider approaching them yourself and explaining in a polite manner that you are being disturbed by their noise and explain how it is affecting you. You may find this difficult, but often people are unaware that they are causing a problem and most will be glad to do what they can to reduce noise. However, approach the matter carefully if you think your neighbour might react angrily to a complaint.”

The Government’s website also suggests: “Before making a formal complaint or getting others involved, try to discuss the problem with your neighbour. If you’re worried about approaching them, write a letter, explaining the problem clearly and sticking to the facts. If the problem affects other neighbours, involve them as well. It can be easier to settle a dispute if the complaint comes from a number of people. A tenants’ association might help if you’re a member of one.”

What if this doesn’t get me anywhere?

If the neighbourly chat approach doesn’t work, you may need to take it to the next level. Most issues over noise complaints are dealt with by the city council, or district and borough councils. Some will be dealt with by police, but these are only in specific circumstances.

When to go to the council

The council will deal with noises that are likely to have a detrimental effect on the community, which may constitute anti-social behaviour and may also be a statutory noise nuisance. This includes music from a hi-fi or television which is operated at an excessive volume.

Obviously, the council will need to assess whether the volume is excessive, however, councils will generally only investigate recurring noise problems, not single occurrences. Rushcliffe Borough Council says: “The noise also has to be occurring on a frequent basis. If a loud late-night party is a one-off, we are unlikely to be able to take formal action.”

If you do want to make a formal complaint, details can easily be found on the relevant websites of the various councils. The council may ask you to keep a diary of the issue to help them understand the extent of the problem.

When to call the police

Police request you only report a problem with noise to them if you believe that it’s an emergency; or there is a crime taking place; or there is a threat to someone’s life or their property; or the noise may linked to domestic violence or another violent confrontation.

Noise can be an element of violent and harmful behaviour, and noise from loud music or television can be used to mask the sounds of domestic violence, so you need to be aware of this possibility. If you suspect the noise is related to domestic violence or a violent incident you should call the police on 999.



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