Noise problems

You can report a noise problem to us if the noise is having a significant impact on you and your family.

Before you report a noise problem to us, you could try to speak to the person responsible for the noise if possible - they may not realise they are bothering anyone.

Retaliating with your own noise, like knocking on walls or shouting, rarely solves the problem. You can get advice about resolving neighbour disputes on GOV.UK.

If you are responsible for a property alarm, you can register as a key holder

Noise we investigate

We investigate noise from:

  • property and car alarms
  • commercial premises
  • pubs, clubs and bars
  • construction sites (hours of permitted construction noise are 8.00am to 6.30pm Monday to Friday and 8.00am to 1.00pm on a Saturday)
  • neighbours (like loud music, shouting or DIY at night)

We cannot deal with:

How we deal with noise complaints

Once we receive your complaint, we will assign a case officer to your complaint, who will contact you within 10 working days.

They will investigate your complaint and decide if the noise is causing a statutory nuisance.

We may send a letter to you and to the person responsible for the noise. We will keep your details confidential, but in some cases, it may be obvious who has made the complaint.

The letter to the person responsible for the noise will inform them of the alleged nuisance, and ask them to consider their behaviour.

The letter to you will include noise log sheets.

If the noise continues after we have written to the person responsible, you will need to keep the log for 14 days.

The log includes:

  • what the noise is
  • the date of the noise
  • the time the noise started
  • the time the noise ended

We will use the information on your log to:

  • help us to determine that the noise is a statutory nuisance
  • help us identify the best time to visit to witness the noise

If the case officer decides that the noise is a statutory nuisance, we may have to install a sound level monitor in your property to get evidence. If the evidence proves that the noise is a statutory nuisance, we will serve an abatement notice. The notice means that the person responsible for the noise has to stop.

If the person responsible for the noise does not stop and we have evidence to prove this, we will begin legal proceedings. We will notify you if we take legal proceedings, as we may have to reveal your identity.

You can find more information about noise nuisance on GOV.UK. 

Private action

If you are affected by a noise issue, you can take private action under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

You do not need a solicitor to take private action, but it can be time consuming and stressful, so you should think carefully before committing to it.

Before you can start private action, you need to write to the person responsible for the noise, telling them that you plan to complain to the magistrates court - you need to give them at least 3 days’ notice.

You should describe the issue and ask that they stop the noise within a set time period.

If the noise does not stop, you should make your complaint to the magistrates court under section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

A date will be set for the hearing and the person responsible for the noise will be summoned to court.

You should keep a detailed diary of the noise.

In court you will have to give evidence (your noise diary) and prove beyond reasonable doubt that the noise is a statutory nuisance.

If your case is proven, the court can make an order to reduce the nuisance or prevent it happening again.

If you do not prove your case, the magistrate might order you to pay the defendant’s costs.

Contact information

Environmental Health
Harlow Council
Civic Centre
The Water Gardens
College Square
Harlow CM20 1WG
01279 446111