Common noise complaints

Information on common noise complaints including air conditioning units and noisy neighbours with details on how the Council takes action.

The Noise and Nuisance team can help with:

Air conditioning unitsAir conditioning units are becoming more common and, while individually they may not create much noise, collectively they can contribute to higher levels of background environmental noise. A defective unit can cause a great amount of disturbance to a large number of people. The Noise and Nuisance team has powers to deal with air conditioning units that are causing a disturbance.

Noisy neighboursDomestic neighbour noise, such as DIY work or loud music, is the most common cause of noise complaint. It is advisable to take steps to resolve the problem yourself before involving the council, such as speaking face-to-face or writing a letter to your neighbour to explain how you are affected. There are no periods of time when the playing of loud music is specifically allowed or prohibited. If the noise is causing a nuisance to others then it is a nuisance regardless of the time of day, or day of the week.

Noise from wooden floors would usually be defined as normal use of premises, and would not be actionable by the Environmental Health Department. If talking to your neighbour hasn't helped and your flat is leasehold, there may be a clause which states that suitable floor covering must be provided. Discuss this with your freeholder. If these taking these steps doesn't resolve the problem and the noise is excessive, the Noise and Nuisance Team may be able to help. If you have been been unable or not felt comfortable with resolving a problem with domestic neighbour noise, you can contact the Noise and Nuisance Team.

The Council has powers under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 to deal with noise from premises and to help protect residents from noise nuisance. We may write to your neighbour (your details will remain confidential) explaining the nature of the complaint. We will send you a diary sheet to record dates and times of when you are disturbed. If the noise continues an officer will need to visit you to witness the noise. If a statutory nuisance is established, a noise abatement notice will be served on the person(s) responsible. You should ask other neighbours to support your complaint if they are affected. If the notice is breached the person in receipt of the notice can be prosecuted. If the notice continues to be breached even though the person has been prosecuted or that a prosecution is pending, the Council may apply to the court for a warrant to seize any offending equipment.

Construction: Noise, Vibration and DustThe Royal Borough expects contractors to employ best practicable means to reduce noise to a minimum, as defined in the Control of Pollution Act 1974, BS 5228, and the Royal Borough’s Code of Construction Practice on minimizing noise (Code), vibration and dust. 

The Royal Borough’s Code of Construction Practice on minimizing noise.

RBKC Code of Construction Practice (April 2016)

As of April 2016 all new developments will be subject to the Code, with the Code introduced to existing sites over the next 6 to 12 months. 

It is important that you read the Code prior to development and in the majority of cases at the planning stage to allow you to plan your resources and construction methodology.

Key aspects of the Code.

Code of Construction Practice - Single Page Summary

All developers and contractors must develop a communication strategy for neighbour liaison. The occupiers of neighbouring premises must be informed of any works, within a reasonable time period before they start, to provide as much notice as possible of any unavoidable noise or vibration they are likely to be exposed to. All sites must be assessed and characterised as either Category 1, 2 or 3. A site’s character will determine the extent of neighbour liaison, noise monitoring and whether a S61 Prior Consent is required.  

Category 1 sites will normally require an application for a S61 Prior Consent to be submitted.

Section 61 Prior Consent application form and guidance

All construction sites will be subject to control through a notice/consent under S60 or S61 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974.

  • The quietest available equipment and methods must be used in conjunction with noise barriers and mitigation measures, the use of percussive breaking equipment must be avoided wherever possible.
  • Dust suppression and screening must be used.
  • If no mains electricity supply is available at a site at the commencement of works the Council expects contractors to apply for a temporary builder’s power supply until a permanent supply is installed.

Permitted hours of noisy work (audible at boundary)

  • 8am to 6pm      Monday to Friday
  • At no time    Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays

Restricted hours for high impact activities (such as all demolition and concrete-breaking works)

  • 9am to 12 noon and 2 to 5.30pm      Monday to Friday
  • At no time      Saturdays, Sundays and Public Holidays

On rare occasions work outside these hours may be unavoidable. For example, police restrictions may mean that certain deliveries can only take place on a Sunday when traffic is light. Except in cases of extreme emergency, the Council should be notified well in advance of any such deviations from the normal pattern of work, and strongly advises contractors to notify surrounding residents.

The Code does not apply to ‘DIY’ works carried out by the occupier of a property.

Please contact the Noise & Nuisance Team for advice and any potential requirement to work outside of the Code. 

Contact details:

Telephone 020 7361 3002

Email: environmentalhealth@rbkc.gov.uk

To assist developers to comply with the Code and plan at the design/concept stages officers will provide professional advice on the pre-application process for Section 61 applications under the Control of Pollution Act 1974 and will charge on an hourly rate basis.

Fees

 Officer hourly rate
Head of Service£83
Team Manager £63
Environmental Health Officer£51
Admin Officer£38 

If you are disturbed by noisy works outside the permitted hours, please contact the Council’s Noise and Nuisance Team.

Damage to adjoining structures due to vibration, even if superficial such as cracked plasterwork may be provided for under the terms of a party wall agreement, but please note this is not a matter for which the Council is empowered to act. For further information on party wall agreements please visit the planning portal website.

Enquiries relating to site safety issues or concerns about unsafe construction processes and practices should be referred to the Health and Safety Executive.

For other information on the steps that builders and developers should be taking, see our 'steps for builders' page.

FireworksWhile adding excitement to occasions, fireworks can also frighten and disturb people and animals, cause annoyance, damage and impact on air quality. The Fireworks Act 2003 introduced a curfew on firework use between 11pm and 7am with the exception of the following nights where the curfew will begin at different times:

  • 5 November: 12 midnight
  • New Year's Eve: 1am
  • Chinese New Year: 1am
  • Diwali night: 1am 

This curfew is enforced by the Police. Fireworks set off within the allowed times can still be a noise nuisance and the council may take action if satisfied that a statutory nuisance exists. 

Intruder alarmsThe Council’s Noise and Nuisance Team have powers to deal with alarms which are causing a nuisance. Once notified, an officer will examine the ways by which the alarm can be silenced and, if necessary, may apply to a magistrate to gain a warrant of entry in order to manually silence the alarm. The Council will charge the person or people responsible for the alarm for all charges incurred. Please remember: officers may face some difficulty obtaining a warrant outside office hours.

Noise from partiesNoise from parties can cause disturbance during the evening when background noise level is often lower and people are more likely to be trying to sleep. The Environmental Protection Act does not define any particular hours as night time during which playing music is prohibited, although some tenancy agreements or leases may state hours after which no music is to be played.

When the Noise and Nuisance Service visit noisy parties they are often told that it is a one off birthday, anniversary or other special occasion. While we would have some sympathy with that view, the fact is that in a typical Kensington and Chelsea flat 20 to 30 others may be close to the source of the noise and if every flat had just one party each year there would be a disturbance every other week. Residents are usually concerned about the well being of their neighbours and agree to turn the music down if we inform them that complaints have been received.

Vehicle alarmsThe Noise and Nuisance Team has powers to deal with problem alarms. If you are being disturbed by a faulty car alarm you should contact the Environmental Health Department quoting the vehicles registration number and or the vehicles resident’s parking permit number From these details an officer will be able to trace the owner of the vehicle and notify them of the problem. If the owner can not be traced then the officer may use his or her legal powers to arrange for an alarm engineer to deactivate the alarm. If the car is parked on private land then it will be necessary to gain a warrant of entry.

Please note: officers may face some difficulty obtaining a warrant outside office hours.

We have no power to deal with:

  • aircraft noise
  • noisy children
  • rowdy behaviour in public places
  • traffic or train noise
  • odour from domestic properties

We can advise you about government departments that you can complain to about aircraft, road traffic noise or train noise.