It’s that time of year again, with long sunny days, the gentle sound of birdsong and – if you are very unlucky, the boom boom boom from your neighbour’s banging music system. Across the UK, neighbours can find themselves falling out over the ways they want to enjoy warm summer days outdoors.
For every person who wants to lounge around in the garden, sipping a cold drink and reading a novel, there is someone who wants to enjoy their music in their own private space – or who wants to throw a noisy garden party. NottinghamshireLive has looked into whether you should have to put up with your neighbour playing music.
Is it really a problem?
This is something that people can really fall out about and people often take to social media to point out the problem. A thread on the Spotted Newark Facebook page once demonstrated the dilemma. One person wrote: “First bit of sunshine & out comes the ‘bang bang’ so called music. All afternoon and carrying on.”
The post went on: “How about asking neighbours 1st 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 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’.”
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 play list, 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?
With one person writing on the post: “Grow some balls and go around and tell them to turn it down,” it seems they may have the right idea, even if the wording is a little brutal. You really do have to approach your neighbour in the first instance.
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.”
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, 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. But councils will generally only investigate recurring noise problems, not single occurrences.
If you do want to make a formal complaint, details can easily be found on the relevant websites of your relevant council. 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.