/ Home & Energy

Everybody needs good quiet neighbours

Noisy neighbours cartoon

There’s nothing like the ‘thud, thud, thud’ of the next-door neighbour’s music to keep you awake at night, and our research shows noisy neighbours bother most of us. So how do you get them to keep it down?

When our neighbours complained of ‘foot fall’ I thought they’d lost out on a financial investment.

Little did I know they were referring to the sound of my size-four feet echoing through the ceiling – although I imagine my boyfriend’s size 13s were more likely the cause!

Which? Legal Service published some research today suggesting five million people are currently affected by nuisance neighbours – are you? Apparently, the most common cause for complaining about neighbours is their noise.

Our research showed the top 10 irritants annoying neighbours are:

1. = Loud voices/arguing (38%)/Loud music/TV (38%)
3. Door slamming (27%)
4. Noise from pets (23%)
5. Noise from regular parties (21%)
6. People stomping around (20%)
7. People coming and going at all times of day (17%)
8. DIY noise (e.g drilling) (17%)
9. = Overgrown trees/hedges (15%)/Parking in my parking space (15%)

Shhh! The neighbours

I was nervous reading our report. In a quiet block of flats I’m pretty sure we’re the noisiest of the bunch! We don’t mean to be – we don’t party hard – we just seem to be the ones coming and going the most. And we’ve got friends and relatives with children who like nothing more than to run between rooms, ring the buzzer and jump on the furniture.

When my neighbours confronted me about our ‘foot fall’ I was a little tempted to question what on earth it is, but actually, it’s important they mentioned it. It would be a silly thing to fall out over. I had no idea they could hear us busying about above them and we’re far more careful about dashing about the flat now.

I’m very lucky to say that rarely in my life I have I been affected by noise from my neighbours. But I’ve friends who have been driven to distraction by their neighbours, a couple I know have moved house as a result.

And I regularly see posts on my friends’ Facebook status updates confirming Mr and Mrs Shoutey are at it again or looks like Mr B is in for another good night. Yes 5% of complaints about our neighbours relate to the sounds of them, er, having sex.

Resolve your dispute

So what can be done about noisy neighbours? Well, our advice is not to lose sleep over it. If you have an issue with a neighbour that you’d like some advice on, Which? Legal Service lawyers will be answering your questions on Thursday 16 and Friday 17 June. Why not resolve your nuisance neighbour issue by sending them a question?

Are your neighbours driving you to distraction? Have you got any good examples of how you resolved the issue?

What annoys you most about noisy neighbours?

Parties/loud music/TV (41%, 98 Votes)

Noise from pets (20%, 47 Votes)

Loud voices/arguing (14%, 33 Votes)

DIY noise (10%, 25 Votes)

Doors slamming (8%, 18 Votes)

People stomping around (8%, 18 Votes)

Total Voters: 239

Loading ... Loading ...

Another similar dilemma of when and how to raise a problem with a neighbour. There will almost certainly be tenancy conditions that are there for your protection and which can be invoked by the Housing Association. This will not be be the first time the Association has had to deal with this kind of problem and it should be capable and experienced enough to deal with it in a way that does not lead to any repercussions against you . . . . but, as you say, you are wary of the consequences. If only to make sure the Association is not unaware of the problem you are suffering I feel you should speak to the housing officer confidentially and discuss with him or her the best way forward. It does not mean that they have to immediately read the riot act, but failure to put it on record could prejudice your interests at a later stage should things go from bad to worse. You never know until you mention it, but the Housing Association might be able to find you a better property within its stock.

Dee says:
16 April 2015

I moved in to a ground floor maisonette last year. Noise from upstairs footfall etc can be annoying but I try not to let it get to me as they are a friendly family with young children and i dont think are doing this on purpose. Worst is the woman in the maisonette next door. Her tv adjoins my sitting room wall and she blares her tv so loud I can hear clearly the programmes she watches and cannot concentrate in my own and end up turning mine up too loud for myself to be able to hear. Her TV can also be heard from my bedroom next door and often goes in well after 11pm….she is very unfriendly too, never says hello although I have tried to when I first moved in. I don’t think she would be approachable to turn the volume down, as I’ve heard her when entertaining friends, quite intimidating. Would anyone have any cheap soundproofing tips? Or after 9 months is it still worth approaching her / writing a letter maybe?

Dee, no solutions are cheap but some are cheaper than others. You can add an additional sheet of acoustic plasterboard with Green Glue, then a layer of acoustic wallpaper or plaster skim. The glue is £10 tube and you need two per 8’x4′ sheet. It forms a soundblocking layer, not 100% but there are good reviews if you Google. Check it on YouTube too.
There are other forms of matting and sheeting available but require finishing with plaster.
Alternatively you could just try the wallpaper but make sure you get the one that blocks Incoming sound, not the other one. You must follow the instructions carefully.
If her tv is attached to the party wall, she should really move it or isolate the sound with a neoprene mat behind the bracket. But as she sounds unapproachable you might not want to discuss it with her.
Hope some of this helps! Above all, take care of you first and watch that stress doesn’t take you over. I bought an iPod and loaded it with white noise, waterfalls and Tibetan gongs to soothe my shattered nerves! But I’m ok now and have new lovely neighbours. Good luck.

PS Dee read my reply to Mrs C above too

Dee says:
20 April 2015

Thanks Miss JP, I will look in to some of those suggestions. Noise is not as bad recently, some times I think its all in my head until it happens again!

It’s not in your head, but has that effect on your head – it’s only natural to feel on edge when your home is being ‘invaded’ by noise and then you become tense and ‘on guard’. I’m so glad it’s a bit better now. I have elephant teenagers next door and after considering soundproofing have decided to live with the thumps squeals and thuds rather than end up with an overdraft. I tried all sorts of ways to block out the noise and became very tense and exhausted and a bit of a wreck to be honest. One day I just sat there for a whole afternoon in the school holidays and ended up thinking – I can deal with this. I hope you end up on friendly terms with your neighbour; maybe someone has had a word with her. Good luck.

Neighbour problem solver says:
17 April 2015

Hi All

Would just like to tell a few people of my experiences. I live in converted flats which have very thin walls. I had a neighbour who took drugs and would come in from nights out Friday Saturday, sometime mid week with loads of friends, he’d put music on, his friends would be shouting singing, it was relentless. On top of this I was very kind to this neighbour gave him access to my wifi for no charge, helped him out when he had a washing machine leak. Anyway, I started to mention the noise how it was not ok, but he’d only ever turn it down when I would ask him on the time, which meant getting out of bed at 4-5am, knocking on his door, pretty ridiculous that he had zero consideration. Obviously this was not an ideal solution as then you have had a crap nights sleep, and I generally can’t get back to sleep after waking up. This kept on like this, him making loads of noise, me having to approach him each time, a few months in of this repeating he started started to get rude and nasty, accusing me of harassing his female friends, and of being very loud myself (which was not true).

Anyways I reported to landlord, environmental health, who sent him letters. The noise stopped for a bit, but then he started to be spiteful, shouting through the walls at 6am etc. I called the police one night they said they don’t deal with it anymore (Hertfordshire). Anyway this continued on for months! One night I came in from a night out and was in my flat awake, when the neighbour comes in shouting through the corridor that he is going to kill me, he probably assumed I was asleep and that he’d cause me another miserable night. I saw red! I went out and dealt with the situation, and he spent the night in hospital.

Unfortunately for him he was not aware that I had spent time in an elite part of the armed forces, and I used to box. For me this incident proved that there are people in this world who take kindness for weakness, and only understand one thing. As sad as it is, if you are in a desperate situation like I was, I suggest you consider all options and contacting people who be willing to offer alternative solutions, as from my experience the council, landlords and law, don’t care. My quality of life was terrible, but now the neighbour has moved out.

I have upstairs built in cupboards for the two upstairs bedrooms.
Still the noise next door at all odd hours in the ight is deafening and annoying ad my child cant sleep at night.
Does acoustic sheets(soundproof) help and what is the cost approximately..Is it worth the investment.

Trevor says:
9 December 2015

Hi to all, I have been looking through these online “conversations” & felt I should share with you our experiences of noisy neighbours.
First of all we are a very quiet couple & to be honest people are extremely lucky to have us living next door to them.
That said there are those out there that take advantage of this !
We moved 11 years ago from a 3 bed/2 bath detached family home to get away from very, very loud music, kids playing in the cul-de-sac & kicking footballs against our house, garage & cars, dogs barking & general very late night partying by various neighbours in the area.
The last straw was an extension being built next door that took 2 years & when completed the related party ended up with the neighbours sat on their new roof, drunk & very loud at 0400 ?
I wish I could say it was only the once.
Time to move so we did.
We moved to an even bigger detached family home in a area where the gardens are bigger, through roads so no football in the street, bigger gaps between the properties & a much older community.
We knew this area very well & had tried moving here for 3 years which included going for 11 properties & in the end we got one & moved so very happy & all was good…………… for about 6 months.
It became very apparent that the upwind, retired neighbour was a DIY nut & not a very good one.
It didn’t matter what time of day or day of week or season of the year he will spend loads of time dreaming up a new project then start it, he’s not good enough to complete the projects so always ends up having to get a contractor in to finish the job off or completely redo what he has done wrong.
The latest thing was this past Monday when he had an electrical emergency !
His “extension” which is a serious eyesore & no one can work out why he had it built on & how he came up with the plans ? Anyway, this extension was rewired by him off a separate fuse panel with substandard wiring, surprise surprise !
The mains actually burnt out & the electricity board were called out, they parked on my front lawn, not his but mine & punched trough our water mains via the water meter & mains cut off valve up by the road ???
So after about 2 hours our neighbour is back on his mains electricity & we are still on reduced pressure mains water which isn’t enough to keep our combi boiler working ?
The water board are now sorting this out but what the heck !
This is on top of his big drive renewal project which is unbelievably noisy & dirty to US & has been going on for 2 months now ?
He has cut through his phone line too which is being dug up & of course this is in front of our house too & all I have mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg.
Door slamming that can be FELT through our house, (even this far apart) constant BBQ’s for the same retired couple a lot of the year, constant car maintenance & his motorbike, always drilling & banging things inside & outside the house, always finding new lights to wire in outside & now one in particular shines right up past our curtains & reflects off the ceiling & of course the 2 grown up kids who both have very noisy little yappy dogs that don’t sleep & both these kids visit ALOT & as they don’t have kids of their own these dogs are of course the grandchildren & cant put a foot wrong !
Various people have complained politely including us but this 73 year old believes he owns the road & just doesn’t stop.
He did admit once that where they used to live the neighbours had complained too so ???
He has become a danger to himself & to those of us around him yet the authorities do nothing ?
So do we stay & hope he gets to old to keep doing this, which I doubt OR move again ?
I have found out recently that our house is the property that has been sold the most by along way on this whole estate, I wonder why !
The worst thing tho is the dogs, they look after them for their grown up children when they are away on holiday, the neighbours are to old to be able to deal with these dogs & they basically go mad, escape & attack anything & everything they find.
The other neighbour called the Police the last time this happened but the dogs weren’t removed so again the authorities do nothing ?