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Noise and nuisance

Noise is a part of everyday life, but excessive noise can be a real nuisance and affect the quality of life for residents. Southwark deals with approximately 10,000 noise complaints every year and we can help with most problems, complaints or enquiries.

As a council, we must look into complaints about noise that could constitute a Statutory Nuisance covered by the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

For the noise to count as a statutory nuisance, it must do one of the following:

  • unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises; for example, it may prevent you from sleeping at night, watching TV or having a conversation
  • injure health or be likely to injure health

If an officer from the council’s Noise and Nuisance Team witnesses and agrees that a statutory nuisance is happening, they will serve an abatement notice. This requires whoever is responsible to stop or restrict the noise.

If you're being affected by noise nuisance, it's important that you contact us for advice. If appropriate, we'll take action. If we cannot take action we'll offer advice.

The types of noise that we can deal with and take action on include:

  • loud amplified music
  • parties
  • commercial noise from pubs, nightclubs, restaurants, shops or warehouses
  • construction or demolition noise
  • intruder alarms and car alarms
  • barking dogs 
  • noisy DIY

We can also deal with other problems which may also cause a nuisance including:

  • light intrusion
  • odours and fumes from commercial properties
  • smoke
  • noise from commercial venues and events
  • dust or noise from some works or equipment in the street
There will be some complaints which the council is unable to deal with. For example, case law states that noise from the ordinary use of a residential premise cannot be considered a nuisance

Examples of this include:

  • toilets flushing  
  • footsteps
  • doors closing
  • babies crying/children playing
  • lights switches being turned on/off
  • shower noise 
  • kitchen appliances being used during daytime and early evenings
  • DIY activities during daytime
  • fireworks during certain times
  • emergency street works

In many instances, mediation can be a solution to some of the complaints listed above. In some cases, your neighbour may genuinely be unaware that their daily activities are having a negative impact on you. Discussing the problem with them in a calm manner may quickly resolve the issue, as they may be able to do something differently. There are also professional mediators who will help you with this. If you're a tenant, contact your landlord who may be able to assist with the mediation process.

Page last updated: 21 December 2022


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