Before you contact Brighton & Hove City Council Environmental Protection Department, we always suggest you talk to your neighbours first to try and resolve any problems. Often, your neighbour may not be aware they're causing a problem.
If this does not work or is not possible, we strongly recommend that you consider mediation.
Residents can contact Brighton and Hove Independent Mediation Service.
Mediation seeks to achieve mutually agreed solutions to a dispute and is often more sustainable and long-lasting.
Most noise complaints are dealt with informally, but should this not be possible, Brighton & Hove City Council can take formal action.
There's no set legal level of noise which is too loud, or that will automatically result in action being taken by Brighton & Hove City Council.
There is also no set time during the day or night when music or any other sort of noisy activity must end.
How to make a noise complaint
Under the provisions of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and the definition of statutory nuisance, Brighton & Hove City Council can investigate and deal with some types of noise.
Find out what counts as a statutory nuisance from GOV.UK.
Noise we will investigate
In order to take action, the noise has to be significant enough to disturb you in your home and interfere with everyday life.
The noise therefore needs to continue for a long time or happen regularly and be unreasonable.
We can investigate noise from:
- loud music
- dogs barking
- DIY and building works
- commercial/licensed premises such as equipment or loud music
Noise we will not investigate
Brighton & Hove City Council will not investigate noise which is unlikely to constitute a statutory nuisance under the legislation such as sounds of daily living.
Examples of noise that will not be investigated include:
- noise from children playing either inside, in gardens, or in playgrounds
- babies or children crying
- neighbours talking either inside a property or in a garden
- snoring or sexual activity
- objects being dropped
- impact sound from footsteps, doors closing and switches operating in adjacent premises or communal areas in residential blocks
- toilet flushing
- washing machines, kitchen equipment and other domestic appliances operating during daytime hours which is typically between the hours of 7am to 10pm
- garden equipment operating such as lawn movers, leaf blowers, and shredders
- ‘one off’ parties
- engine noise from cars starting or warming up
- traffic noise but you can find out who to contact about transport noise from GOV.UK
- aircraft noise
- noise in the street which does not arise from a vehicle, machinery, equipment or buskers, for example, noise from people in the street does not constitute a statutory nuisance
- noise which arises within a premises, such as noise caused by a person living in shared accommodation and affecting a person living in the same accommodation
- wind chimes
- noise from wild animals such as seagulls
This is because case law stops us from taking action over such matters. Find out more about why we cannot deal with poor insulation and everyday noise.
Building work and DIY guidance
Building work or DIY activities can create noise or vibration that can affect neighbours and result in complaints to Brighton & Hove City Council.
There's no law stating the times that DIY or other building works can take place or any laws that specify maximum noise levels.
Planning conditions are often attached to planning permissions which restrict work to certain times only. For further information send an email to Planning.Investigations@brighton-hove.gov.uk.
We appreciate that people often carry out building or DIY work. However, this work must be done at reasonable times and should not cause nuisance to neighbours.
We strongly recommend that noisy building and DIY work be restricted to the following times unless you have agreed to other times with your neighbours:
- Monday to Friday: 8am to 6pm
- Saturdays: 9am to 1pm
- Sundays and Bank/Public Holidays: no work
It's a good idea to inform your neighbours of the work you're carrying out, and how long you expect it to take. Where possible, inform them in advance of potentially noisy work. Complaints may be avoided if people are aware of your timetable.
Remember, whilst occasional DIY or building work is not unreasonable, frequent, or prolonged loud work that causes disturbance can be considered unreasonable and may constitute a statutory nuisance.
Odours and fumes
We can investigate odour or smell as a nuisance from most sources. However, with regards to complaints about the spreading of manure or slurry on the land, we follow the informal advice provided by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) that manure or similar should be ploughed in within 72 hours of it being spread.
We need to know where the odour comes from.
We're often asked to investigate odours from kitchen exhaust/extraction systems serving restaurants and/or takeaways. In these cases, we can check that the extractor system and ducting are being maintained, serviced, and cleaned properly. There will always be odd incidents from commercial kitchen systems, but they should not be excessive.
We are not able to deal with odours from domestic premises, such as cooking and cigarette smoke coming from within people’s homes. However, odour from accumulations within residential properties can be investigated.
Take your own legal action
There are times, despite the best efforts of the investigating officer, when Brighton & Hove City Council cannot obtain the evidence necessary to take action on behalf of the person who has made a complaint. This may be due to noise which occurs intermittently or we're unable to gather evidence to prove a statutory nuisance.
In such circumstances, independent legal action can be taken by complaining directly to the Magistrate's Court under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 under the grounds that you are aggrieved by noise amounting to a statutory nuisance.
The procedure is fairly simple and need not cost much. You may not need to employ a solicitor but it's advisable to obtain some legal advice.
Brighton & Hove City Council cannot be held responsible for any outcome where private action is pursued. These notes are for guidance only.
Steps to take your own legal action
- Collect your evidence by keeping a daily account of the disturbances and how you're affected. You should include dates, times and duration of noise; an accurate description of the noise; nature and effect of disturbance e.g. unable to hear your television, unable to sleep, woken up; action taken at the time e.g. spoke to the person responsible, called police, went out.
- Establish the full name and address of the person(s) responsible for the noise and the proper address of the noisy premises.
- Before approaching the Court you should write to the noisemaker(s) saying that unless the noise is abated within, say 2 weeks, you'll complain to the Magistrate's Court to institute legal proceedings against them. You must specify the matter complained of. Keep a copy of all correspondence.
- Take your evidence to Brighton & Hove Magistrates Court, Edward Street, Brighton (telephone (01273) 670888) at around 9:30am on any weekday and present it to the Clerk of the Court. Explain you wish to make a complaint under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
- The Clerk will decide whether or not you have sufficient evidence of a statutory nuisance. If you have sufficient evidence, the Clerk will issue a Court Summons and fix a hearing date for approximately 4 to 6 weeks time. You may have to pay a fee for this.
- You, any witnesses and the person(s) summonsed must appear at the Court on the given date. In Court, you'll be required to explain your case and produce your diary and any witnesses. The 'offender' will be able to cross-examine you if they wish.
- If the Magistrates are convinced you have a case then an Order will be made requiring the defendant to abate the nuisance and prohibiting its reoccurrence. In addition, a fine may also be imposed.
- If the Order is ignored you must keep further records and if necessary return to the Court with your evidence for a prosecution. Unlimited may then be imposed.
- If you're successful you may apply to the Court for costs against the defendant to cover any costs you may have incurred.
For further advice contact the Magistrates Court:
- phone 01273 670 888
- visit Brighton & Hove Magistrates Court, Edward Street, Brighton
What we’ll do about a noise complaint
Every case is different, but in general, we’ll contact the person responsible and tell them about the complaint.
If the noise continues, we’ll collect evidence by asking you to keep diaries, and sending out officers or recording equipment.
We will not give your name and address to the person you complained about without your permission. But they may be able to guess who you are.
It’s likely that we will need to reveal your details if we take any legal or formal action.
To contact our service during the week:
- submit an online Environmental Health report form
- phone 01273 294 266 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday