Million suffer noisy neighbours in silence

AT LEAST three million UK adults suffer from noisy neighbours but more than a third fail to take action, according to new research.

Loud voices or arguing from the neighbours was the most disturbing noise, followed by blaring music or televisions.

A quarter of those affected were disturbed by doors slamming, while 15 per cent suffered due to regular parties and 3 per cent had heard their neighbours having sex.

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The latter irritant was the subject of a high-profile court case last year when Caroline and Steve Cartwright of Tyne and Wear had an Asbo imposed on them for having sex too loudly.

Specialist equipment installed in a neighbour's flat by Sunderland City Council recorded noise levels of between 30 to 40 decibels (dB), with the highest being 47 dB.

However, people stomping around, pets, DIY noise, musical instruments and ball games also rated among the most annoying neighbourly noises.

Reasons not to be cheerful – top ten complaints

Ball games 6%

Door slamming 26%

Musical instruments 7%

DIY noise (eg drilling) 9%

Loud music/television 40%

Regular parties 15%

People stomping 19%

People leaving pub/club 5%

Loud voices/ arguing 58%

Pets (eg dog barking) 11&

In terms of noise levels, a power saw can generate 110 dB, comparable with a loud rock concert, while vacuum cleaners, televisions and radios can give out on average 70 dB, the equivalent of busy traffic.

Among those who reported noisy neighbours in the poll of 2,131 adults for Which? Legal Service found, six in ten had lost sleep, while others said the disruption made them irritable, angry or stressed. One in ten sufferers had seen their work or health affected.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said of the survey: "Noisy neighbours can make life a misery, and our research shows that people are losing sleep, struggling at work and arguing with their partners, all because of disturbances from next door.

"People shouldn't suffer in silence. If talking amicably with your neighbour about the problem doesn't work, then contact your local authority who will be able to investigate the matter."

However, 36 per cent admitted that they had made no effort to address the problem. Fewer than a third had spoken calmly to their neighbours about the issue and just a quarter had contacted their local authority.

Arguments had developed among eight per cent of neighbours, while seven per cent had moved house to escape the noise.

The extent of Scotland's noise problem was revealed late last year, when it was announced there had been a fourfold increase in the number of noise complaints since new noise abatement legislation came into force in 2004. In 2008 there were 42,665 complaints made, compared with 10,000 in 2007.

The Scotsman reported on Saturday that the author Hunter Steele has launched a 5,000 legal action against a building firm for causing writer's block through noise disturbance.

Lisa Lavia, managing director of the Noise Abatement Society, said it came down to people being aware of their surroundings. She said: "When it comes to noise nuisance, people can be annoyed by it but do not feel that they have to complain because it's part of everyday living in an urban area.

"The main thing is that people have to be considerate about those around them, and if they are going to be making noise they need to do so in a way that minimises the disruption around them.

"The problems arise when people stop communicating with those around them – they decide that they will have a party without announcing it because they only do it once a year."

Ms Lavia said that the public was not aware of the impact of noise on their health.

She added: "I think the real health impacts are not fully understood by the public, and if they were understood, then many more people would be much more considerate and take others into consideration.

"I don't think people are really aware of the noise they are making and don't understand the impact it will be."

NOISE RATINGS

A loud rock concert 110dB

Power saw 110 dB

Busy traffic 70dB

Television 70dB

Vacuum cleaner 70dB

Noisy sex 30-40dB