Neighbour noise advice during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
Everyone will be experiencing difficulties and stresses because of the current restrictions on movement, with most people being confined to their homes and where available, gardens, for most of the day for the foreseeable future. A considerable number of people will need to work from home and children will be doing school work at home. The pandemic situation will also be resulting in increased anxiety for many people.
These restrictions are clearly essential to reduce the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect everyone's health and save lives. However, that means we will probably be seeing and hearing more of our neighbours than we are used to. In some situations, this may lead to frustrations or annoyance with noise we do not want to hear.
With this in mind, we urge everyone to be considerate of their neighbours by thinking about how noise from your home could be causing problems and upset to others. For the same reason, we urge everyone to be more tolerant and patient with noise and activity that they won't be used to hearing. There is a real need to show some good will at this time.
Below is some specific advice on reducing noise and some common noise problems:
Everyday household living generates noise, whether that's the washing machine, doors closing, or the TV. However, disputes can occur when people are inconsiderate to others in how much noise they create. It is important to acknowledge the noise your household creates and think about the impact it might have on your neighbours.
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 noise from your property 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 are approached/contacted by a neighbour and asked to keep your noise down react positively. Respect their right to enjoy their home without hearing all that is going on in yours. Keep in mind the need to maintain a 2 metre distance from any of your neighbours.
Stereos, TV and music
These are the most frequent causes for complaint. What is considered entertainment for one person can be torture for someone else. Avoid playing music so loud 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 is a common misunderstanding that anyone is allowed to play their music as much and as loudly as you like up to 11pm. This is completely wrong, so don't make that mistake. 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 musical instrument practices short and at reasonable times. If you can, do it in a room furthest away from your neighbour. If you are a neighbour who can hear someone practicing, be prepared to be patient.
The current Government restrictions on socialising mean that you should not be socialising with anyone who you don't live with, including in any outdoor areas. Any complaint concerning noise from a party or a social gathering will be investigated, as this may not only amount to a noise disturbance but also a breach of the Government's Coronavirus social distancing requirements. This is not in any way acceptable behaviour, or behaviour that is likely to be tolerated.
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 are probably disturbing quite a few others too. 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 is next door. Avoid slamming doors and running up or down stairs especially if you live in a flat or terraced house. Shut doors gently and use the handle - don't push it closed.
If you have laminate or wood flooring consider the use of rugs in areas with high footfall or where children play.
Complaints about dogs barking often happen because dogs are left at home alone for long periods of time. There are practical steps dog owners can take to minimise dog barking and prevent noise nuisance. Dog owners can find advice online from reputable providers such as the RSPCA, or may wish to talk to their vet.
Some people may choose to complete those DIY tasks that they have been meaning to get around to during this period of restriction. Whilst you may enjoy putting your time at home to good use, your neighbours will not enjoy long periods of drilling, sawing or hammering.
The impact this could have on your neighbours during this difficult time could be greater than you think.
If you can do so whilst maintaining social distancing of a minimum of 2 metres, talk to your neighbours about the works 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 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.
How we can help
Noise from privately owned homes
We will continue to run a noise service. You can still call to report ongoing noise by calling 0191 433 2350 or use our online form.
In many instances you will be offered advice and we will endeavour to resolve the problem by initially contacting the source of the noise.
Noise from council owned properties
Complaints about noise from a council owned property can be made by calling your local Gateshead Housing Company office.