Noise Nuisance

Noise is unwanted sound. It can cause disruption and distress.

What to do if you have a noise problem

In the first instance it may be helpful to approach the person responsible and explain the the nature of the problem to them. They may not realise they are causing an issue and you may be able to resolve the situation quickly and amicably.

You can contact Citizens Advice for information about your rights or speak to Ashford Mediation who may be able to help by mediating between you and your neighbour.

If these routes do not work, you can make a formal complaint to us.

How we deal with complaints

How we deal with the complaint will depend on several factors. These include the type of noise, how loud it is, what time of day it takes place, how often it occurs, and, for how long it goes on.

Noise that occurs very occasionally, or is of short duration, is unlikely to be something we can take formal action over. Noise we cannot usually take action over includes:

  • Normal sounds of domestic occupation (e.g. footsteps, toilet flushing, doors closing, switches being used, etc)
  • Household appliances
  • Noise from children
  • Road traffic noise (vehicles on the road, one-off incidents, or loud stereos in a moving vehicle)
  • Shouting
  • Slamming doors

Types of noise

We offer additional guidance on the following noise types:

+ Alarms - Car

If you are being disturbed by a car alarm we will need the following information:

  • make/model/colour of car
  • registration number
  • details of where the car is parked
  • how long the alarm has been sounding for

If we are unable to trace the owner we will determine if the alarm is causing a statutory nuisance. We may then serve a notice and disarm the alarm. The owner of the car will be charged for any works completed.

+ Alarms - Burglar

If you are being disturbed by a neighbour's burglar alarm on a regular basis, or for prolonged periods, we may have powers to silence it.

Before you call you will need to confirm the address where the alarm is sounding. It would also help to obtain the name and number of any company shown on the alarm box, and check whether neighbours know where the people are, and whether they:

  • are likely to be home soon?
  • know where they work?
  • have contact details of anyone who may be able to contact them, or that may be a keyholder?

We will then try to contact the owner of the premises, or a nominated key holder. If we are unable to contact anyone to switch the alarm off within a reasonable timeframe then we may be able to serve a notice and disable the alarm. The householder will be charged for any works completed.

If you have a burglar alarm, it may be a good idea to ensure the alarm is serviced, that it has a maximum 15 minute cut out, and that neighbours have your details in the event the alarm sounds.

+ Bird scarers

There is no specific restriction on the use of bird scarers, however we recommend following the NFU guidance for the use of bird scarers to minimise disturbance.

+ Buskers

Busking does not require a licence or permit. We do however recommend that buskers follow our Buskers code of practice.

+ Cockerel noise

If you have issues with cockerel noise, speaking to your neighbour in a friendly manner is a good place to start. Cockerels tend to crow from first light so they may be able to try the following to help reduce crowing:

  • using a coop that blocks out daylight
  • letting the chicken out later in the morning
  • lowering the roof height to prevent cockerels from stretching to crow
  • minimise the number of cockerels to prevent competition
  • avoid having cockerels unless you intend to breed chickens
  • follow the suggestions listed in Poultry Club of Great Britain

+ Commercial noise

Noisy machinery, fan noise, vehicle movements, and alarms are just some examples that can be annoying to local residents. In the first instance we would recommend speaking to the manager/owner and explaining the problem so that they have the chance to address the issue for you.

Businesses should consider:
  • choosing quieter equipment
  • carefully siting, or enclosing, noisy activities
  • the timing and conduct of deliveries
  • ensuring staff are aware of potential noise issues

+ Construction and DIY

Demolition, construction and DIY are noisy activities and should be done in a manner to minimise disturbance.

For DIY, we generally recommend not working outside of 8am-7pm and letting your neighbours know about noisy work in advance. Large projects such as extensions would not be considered DIY regardless of who is carrying out the work.

For construction work, please see our Code of Practice for Construction Sites [pdf] 311KB.

+ Dog barking

It is natural for dogs to bark, however, constant barking/whining/howling can disturb neighbours.

Approaching an owner is a good first step. Some owners may not realise that their dog is causing a problem. The owner could consider the following steps to try and reduce barking:

  • make sure your dog gets plenty of exercise before you go out
  • see if you can get someone to look after your dog if you are out for extended periods
  • prevent the dog from having access to rooms where they can see people to bark at
  • try getting some professional advice from a vet or animal behaviourist
  • more advice can be found at the RCPCA dog barking web page

+ Loud music, parties and raves

Loud Music
This is a common complaint. In the first instance we would recommend speaking with your neighbour to make them aware of the problem. They may be able to try the following to reduce the impact:
  • reduce the volume, and bass level
  • keep doors and windows closed when playing music
  • wear headphones if they want to listen to loud music, or music outside
  • place speakers away from party walls
If you are disturbed by a party you can make a noise report to us. However, it is unlikely that we can pursue a one-off party as a statutory nuisance.
If you are throwing a party, then we would recommend letting neighbours know the date and timings in advance, and reducing the noise as the evening/night progresses so as not to cause disturbance.

A rave is an organised event of over 20 persons (whether or not trespassing) where music is played during the night and is capable of causing serious distress to nearby residents. These are often held in empty commercial premises, such as warehouses. In such cases Kent Police can remove persons preparing or attending a rave, seize equipment, and remove vehicles.

+ Musical instruments

If you play a musical instrument, the following steps could be taken to reduce the impact on your neighbours:

  • try to agree suitable practice days/times with neighbours
  • hire a suitable practice venue (i.e. hall or studio)
  • use drum practice pads, brushes/sticks, and place blankets inside the bass drum
  • Purchase electronic kits to be used with earphones (i.e. drums or keyboard)

+ Pubs or clubs

Most venues need a licence if they want to provide live entertainment or recorded music. That licence may place conditions limiting the extent of that entertainment.

As with all noise complaints we would first recommend contacting the venue in order to try and informally resolve the issue. If that does not work you can report the matter to us to investigate whether action can be taken under any existing licence, or as statutory nuisance.

Additionally, interested parties can apply for the local authority to review a licence. This can result in the licensing authority adding extra conditions, suspending, or revoking a licence. Before submitting an application for review you should read the Review Guidance [pdf] 55KB. Further information is available on our licensing pages.

Noise and planning applications

The environmental health team are often consulted by the local planning authority on possible noise impacts associated with pending planning applications.

In order to assist applicants and their consultants when submitting planning applications we have published the following Noise Technical Guidance Note [pdf] 1000KB in order to clarify some expectations associated with the more common application types.

Noise Nuisance Statistics

We often receive Freedom of Information (FOI) requests relating to the number of noise complaints we receive. For this purpose, please see our Noise Nuisance Statistics 2018 2023 [xlsx] 22KB.

Make a noise complaint to us online

Please note, we do not offer a 24-hour call out service. The completed report form will be received by an officer on the next working day.