Reducing noise (COVID-19)

Noise nuisance

Here are some useful tips on things you can do, to help be a thoughtful neighbour. 

Everyday household living generates noise, whether that’s the washing machine, doors closing or the TV. But disputes can happen when people don’t consider others in how much noise they create. It’s important to acknowledge the noise your household creates and think about the impact it might have on your neighbours. With this in mind, here are some top tips on how you can reduce noise.

Consider the lifestyle of your neighbours. For example, are they retired or do they have young children? With this in mind, be mindful of the effects that noise from your home may have on them, as well as the types of normal living noise you may hear from their property (for example, from children playing).

If you’re approached/contacted by a neighbour and asked to keep your noise down, try to react positively. Respect their right to enjoy their home without hearing all that’s going on in yours. (At the moment, also remember to keep 2 metres away from your neighbours.)
 

Stereos, TVs, radios and music

These are the most frequent causes for complaint. What’s considered entertainment for one person can be torture for someone else. Avoid playing music so loudly that your neighbours can hear it, and keep the bass level down.

Try to position any speakers away from adjoining walls, floors and ceilings. Standing them on an insulating material can also reduce the transmission of sound. Loud music in the garden is more likely to cause a problem to your neighbours – try and keep it at or below conversation level, or wear headphones. 

It’s a common misunderstanding that anyone is allowed to play their music as much and as loudly as they like up to 11pm. But this is completely wrong. Noise nuisance can be caused at any time of day or night.

Some of us play musical instruments – the key with this is to keep practices short and at reasonable times. If you can, do it in a room that’s furthest away from your neighbour. If you’re a neighbour who can hear someone practicing, be prepared to be patient. Being able to hear noise from elsewhere doesn’t make it unreasonable.
 

Parties

The current government restrictions on socialising mean that you shouldn’t be socialising with anyone who you don’t live with, including in any outdoor areas. 

Any complaint about noise from a party or social gathering will be investigated, as this may not only amount to a noise disturbance but also be a breach of the coronavirus social distancing requirements. This isn’t in any way acceptable behaviour, or behaviour that’s likely to be tolerated. Please stay at home and save lives.

Given the circumstances, you may be tempted to have ‘online’ parties in your home. If you do, please keep the volume down (particularly the bass) or use headphones. Avoid any loud, late night parties. Homes aren’t the place to replicate a pub or night club environment. If someone complains, be prepared to accept you’re probably disturbing quite a few others too – they’re just the ones confident enough to speak to you. Turn the music down or use headphones.
 

Banging doors and stamping feet

Sound can travel quite easily through walls and floors, so be aware of what’s next door. Avoid slamming doors and running up or down stairs, especially if you live in a flat or terraced house. Try and shut doors gently and use the handle – don’t push it closed.

If you have laminate or wood flooring, consider using (non-slip) rugs in areas with high footfall or where children play.
 

Dogs barking

Complaints about dog barking often happen because dogs are left at home alone for long periods of time. But there are practical steps dog owners can take to minimise dog barking and prevent noise nuisance. Here’s a link to Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council’s information on this.
 

Household appliances

This is particularly relevant if you live in a flat or terraced house. Try to avoid using domestic appliances (such as washing machines, dishwashers and vacuum cleaners) late at night as they can be very loud. Although they’re part and parcel of everyday life, where you position them and when you use them can make all the difference.

Make sure, where you can, that you place noisy appliances away from party walls. Washing machines should be balanced to reduce vibration. Placing them on a surface that helps absorb sound and vibration could help reduce noise further.

Be considerate and only use noisy appliances during normal waking hours.
 

DIY activity 

We all need to carry out DIY from time to time to maintain and improve our homes. You may be taking the opportunity now to finish or start new projects because of the current restrictions on movement. But please be thoughtful and reasonable as this could have more of an impact on your neighbours than you think during this difficult time.  

If you can do so while maintaining social distancing (a minimum of 2 metres), try to talk to your neighbours about the work you want to do and any parts of it that might be noisy. Most people will be understanding and accommodating, but you should be prepared to compromise if there are times that your neighbour asks you to avoid noise for a genuine reason.

In any situation, unless it’s an emergency, don’t do this sort of work in the evening or early in the morning, particularly at the weekend. 

Most importantly, please keep in mind that most people are currently confined to their homes. They can’t escape you, and you can’t escape them.  

This information about social distancing may also be useful.
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