Noise pollution can affect your ability to sleep and concentrate during the day as a result of sleep deprivation and may even have longer term implications on your health. It is estimated that each year local authorities in the UK will receive on average 422,250 noise complaints, with an average of 1.7 noise abatement notices received for every 100 complaints by each council in the country.
Noise pollution is a widespread problem, but there are steps that can be taken to tackle it. It is very useful to understand the useful ways in which you can reduce noise pollution in your property, as well as the legal obligations you need to take into consideration when it comes to keeping noise level at a minimum. Furthermore, if you are responsible for the block management of a property, it is important to know and understand tenant and resident obligations when it comes to noise.
Acoustic Wall Panels
Acoustic wall panels can help with noise pollution considerably, acting to insulate sound within a property via the walls which play host to this insulation and there are a number of different types of these products available on the market for a range of prices. You are of course likely to require a professional to properly install them. You may however, also see benefits if you install typical home insulation for energy efficiency, as this can also help reduce noise pollution.
Wall Hangings and Fixtures
Having wall hangings in your property is a simple but effective way of tackling noise pollution, particularly if you have large empty walls in your property, as large, empty walls can cause sound to echo around a room. Consequently, investing in wall coverings (for example, hanging fixtures and canvas paintings) can help to absorb sound, reducing its impact.
Upgrading Your Insulation
A long-term solution to dealing with noise is getting a sound insulation assessment, which can discover where in your property is transferred the most unwanted noise. This is known as pre-completion or acoustic testing, with two types of tests available which are carried out by engineers. These are known as airborne and impact sound tests:
- Airborne tests are carried out to find out the level of sound reverberating through air, (e.g. due to radios or televisions that are switched on) and is check through tests on party walls and floors between dwellings
- Impact tests look at the noise levels between floor and ceiling divides. This involves looking at the noise of things making vibrations on a floor such as heavy footsteps or a dishwasher whilst turned on.
Utilising Rugs and Carpets
Having carpets or rugs can help with reducing noise in your property quite dramatically. This is particularly the case when it comes to carpets, reducing sound by up to 34 decibels compared to other options available such as wooden floorboards.
Place Furniture Strategically in Your Property
Placing drawers or large bookshelves along a connecting [party] wall reduces noise emanating from both your own property as well as any noise coming from the adjoining property if you live in a semi-detached house. You should also try to place electrical appliances that tend to be noisy (e.g. a washing machine or an air conditioning unit) as far away from rooms that you like to relax in.
Having noisy appliances very close to the living room or the bedroom, they are likely to have an effect on your quality of sleep and relaxation, which may have a knock-on effect on your daily life.
A cost-efficient way to deal with disturbingly loud noises coming from outside is to close your windows. It may seem like a simple and perhaps obvious trick, but the impact it can have on reducing noise can be considerable.
Planting Trees and Bushes
You can help tackle noise pollution around your property by planting trees and bushes where possible. This can be particularly helpful in more built up areas such as in cities, where you are more likely to live near busy roads.
Legal Obligations for Noise Pollution
In addition to being able to reduce or even eliminate noise pollution in cases, there are a number of legal obligations pertinent to both landlords as well as tenants, residents and occupiers of all nature of properties in the UK.
What is a Noise Abatement Order?
If a neighbour makes a complaint about you and contacts your local council as the noise is becoming a nuisance or damaging to health, this is known as a ‘statutory nuisance,’ which the council has a duty to then investigate. If it is considered to be the case that the council believes you have caused a noise nuisance, they have the right to give you a ‘noise abatement’ order.
This order will outline rules that you will need to abide by to prevent further noise complaints in the future. If you do not comply, you may be liable for fines of up to £5,000 if you break the order from the same property, but this can rise to £20,000 if it is from a business or factory.
Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014
You may also be liable to penalties under the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 if you are making an excessive amount of noise at night in residential property, with the council and housing associations having more power to act than they have had in previous years.