Noise, light, smoke and smell nuisance

Nuisance control

Noisy neighbours keeping you awake at night? Not sure what action can be taken to address smoke nuisance from bonfires or noise from local building works? Want to know if your problem is something we can assist with? Then contact our nuisance control service - we're here to help!

Our service aims to tackle unreasonable disturbance and we will investigate complaints about:

  • loud music, TV or radio
  • persistent shouting, banging or other unreasonable domestic noise
  • smoke and/ or odour from bonfires and burning waste on trade premises
  • building and DIY work at unreasonable times
  • constant dog barking or other noisy domestic animals
  • car and building alarms
  • odour, dust and smoke nuisance, and light nuisance

We do not deal with:

  • noise from ordinary domestic activities or where there is poor sound insulation
  • noisy works from construction within permitted times
  • noise from groups or people talking in gardens and outside areas

How to report a nuisance

The normal operational hours for noise, light, smoke and smell nuisance are:

  • Monday to Friday, 11am to 5pm, including Bank holidays (check bank holiday opening times). If you wish to report a matter urgently during these times, please call 020 8937 5252.

The out of hours emergency service operates:

  • Monday to Friday, 5pm until 2am and Saturday/Sunday, 6pm until 2am. If you have an emergency matter to report, please call 020 8937 1234 and press option 3 for emergencies.

Alternatively, send an email to our Noise Team: ens.noiseteam@brent.gov.uk

Noise control

 

Loud music


If you are having a party or barbeque, remember your neighbours – let them know before hand or better still, invite them to the party.

As it gets late, remember to turn down the volume of your music and ensure guests stay inside your property, keeping windows and doors closed. Ensure speakers are kept inside and that your guests leave quietly –shouting and slamming car doors can be particularly annoying.

A common misconception is that you are allowed to play loud music before 11pm. This is incorrect, the law requires neighbourly and considerate behaviour at all times.

Where a party is disturbing neighbours and a complaint is made, our first response, if there have been no previous disturbances, would be to ask the occupier to immediately reduce volume to end neighbour disturbance. If this request is not heeded or ignored, or there have been previous disturbances, more formal action will be considered.

Report a noise problem

Household repairs/ improvements/ DIY


To avoid complaints, let your neighbours know in advance when you are going to carry out potentially noisy works and try to agree when the noisiest works can take place. Carry out the noisiest work during the day, leaving quieter work such as painting for the evenings.

Don’t leave noise DIY equipment or hire equipment, such as mixers or generators, running when not in use. In the interests of your neighbours try to complete works as quickly as possible – don’t let it drag on for months.

Report a noise problem

Animal noise


Dogs can be problematic, especially when they bark or whine. When leaving the dog unattended indoors we recommend people make arrangements to leave it with a neighbour or friend or get someone to call in. Leaving toys and possibly leaving a radio on at a low volume will help to occupy them.

In recent years a number of residents have began keeping chickens and roosters. However please be aware, roosters can be very noisy animals to keep and often disturb neighbours with their ‘crowing’ from before sunrise and throughout the morning. As such we would recommend that these animals are not kept as pets.

If you are affected by noise from barking dogs or other domestic animals you should report this to the council any time between 11am and 5pm Monday to Friday. Alternatively, you can use our online form to report this and we will deal with this the next working weekday. We do not deal with complaints about noisy animals at weekends.

Report a barking dog

Car and building alarms


The council can take action to address noise nuisance from car or building alarms which are causing a noise disturbance. You should report alarms that causing a problem and have been continuously sounding for more than 25 minutes to the council. We will investigate the complaint but this includes serving a noise abatement notice and giving those responsible at least an hour to resolve the problem once they have been notified.

If the person responsible for the alarm does not comply the council can take steps to enter homes, commercial premises and vehicles to disable alarms. Any charges we incur will be passed onto the person responsible for the problem. This is a last resort and we aim to resolve most issues regarding nuisance alarm noise informally if we can.

If you are installing a new alarm system you should take steps to ensure your alarm system is well maintained to minimise it going off accidentally. If you are installing a new building alarm system you can notify the council with details of 2 key holders who can be contacted in your absence if your alarm is causing a nuisance. This limits any costs to you in the event the alarm is accidentally triggered and causes a problem.

Report a noise problem

Noisy street activities from pubs, clubs and licensed premises


Licensed premises are expected to operate in a reasonable and neighbourly way. Where a license is required, we will seek to apply reasonable conditions that are necessary to limit noise disturbance from entertainment and other activities.

Where a licensed premise is found to be causing unreasonable noise disturbance, we will initially try to address this informally by offering advice and assistance. However, if this is unsuccessful, we may ask for a review of their license so that we can impose extra or stricter conditions. In very serious cases we may recommend the license is suspended or withdrawn.

Additionally, where a licensed premise is found to be causing a statutory nuisance, we can serve a Noise Abatement Notice to prohibit or restrict the nuisance.

Report a noise problem

Road and rail works


Road and rail works are an inevitable part of city living and we try our best to minimise disruption to traffic, pedestrians and local residents. However some of this work needs to be carried out at night, especially energy and water companies conducting emergency works or service improvements. Rail works often require the temporary closure of tracks or train lines to enable urgent repairs and maintenance to be undertaken safely.

Those seeking to carry out works at night or noise sensitive times must apply to the council for permissions. We will consider proposals to ensure every effort is made to minimise disturbance to local residents before agreeing to grant permission. In the case or emergency works prior approval this is not always possible.

If you are affected by excessive noise from rail works you can report this to National Rail or call them on 03457 11 41 41.

If you are affected by noise from road or rail works for more than 2 nights please report this to the nuisance control team:

 

Sound insulation/ ordinary domestic noise


We receive many complaints about neighbour noise from children playing, stamping, loud talking, closing doors, dropping objects and intermittent banging. In many cases this type of noise is a problem because of poor sound insulation between two properties and rather than from unreasonable or antisocial behaviour.

Noise of this nature can be disturbing and annoying but the law regards this sort of noise as “ordinary domestic noise” and this means that there is nothing that the Council can do to intervene.

The Courts have ruled that action cannot be taken using the statutory nuisance provisions within the Environmental Protection Act 1990 where sound insulation is found to be insufficient. As such the Council is sometimes powerless to act and the only course of action open is to offer advice to neighbours on steps that can be taken to minimise disturbance to their neighbours. In such cases we will assess whether the noise complained of is classified as ordinary domestic noise.

Ventilation, extractor and air conditioning noise


Installation of ventilation, extraction or air-conditioning plant and equipment requires planning permission. If granted installation can go ahead but it will be subject to conditions which are put in place to minimise noise disturbance to neighbours.

Occasionally these types of systems can develop faults which may cause excessive noise. In such circumstances we can intervene and require works to be taken to reduce the noise to an acceptable level. This may involve Officers carrying out an assessment of the noise using sound level meters and the subsequent serving of a noise abatement notice which will stipulate a time period in which works must be carried out to rectify the noise issue. Under normal circumstances we allow periods between 4 – 8 weeks to have such works undertaken.

Report a noise problem

Fireworks and noisy public events


Every year, Brent hosts a number of public events which celebrate our rich and diverse cultural and religious heritage. Events such as firework displays on and around Guy Fawkes night, Diwali, St Patrick’s day, Ramadan, fun fairs, school and community fetes, sporting events, concerts and of course being home to Wembley Stadium.

We offer advice to organisers of events and liaise with acoustic consultants/ sound engineers to minimise disturbance to local residents. Where an event is licensable, we will impose conditions that ensure noise disruption is kept to a minimum.

In the case of larger events, such as concerts at Wembley stadium, specific conditions are in place to minimise noise impacts on local residents. The council ensures event organisers adhere to the Code of Practice on Environmental Noise Control at Concerts issued by the Noise Council.

Construction/ building sites


Construction and demolition works are essential for the growth and redevelopment of Brent. However the noise associated with such works can affect those living and working in close proximity.

The Control of Pollution Act 1974 gives powers to the Council which can restrict working hours and allow conditions to be stipulated on the types of machinery/ plant that are used on construction sites.

If you are intending to have construction/ demolition works please ensure to inform all your neighbours who may be affected by noise. Give them advance warning of the works and inform them of the duration and type of works that you intend to have carried out.

The activities covered by the Act include:

  • the erection, construction, alteration, repair or maintenance of buildings, structures or roads
  • breaking up, opening or boring under any road or adjacent land in connection with the construction, inspection, maintenance or removal of works
  • demolition or dredging work
  • any works of engineering construction, which may or may not be covered above.

Hours of Work:
Mon – Fri: 8am – 6pm
Sat: 8am – 1pm
Sun (inc bank holidays): No Noisy works

 

Light, smoke, dust and odour nuisance

 

Light nuisance


Common sources of complaint about artificial light nuisance include:

  • domestic security lights
  • industrial and commercial security lights
  • sports lighting
  • car parks
  • commercial advertising.

If you are concerned about light nuisance coming from a neighbour's garden, a local business or manufacturer, often the best way to deal with the problem is to go straight to the source. Consider talking to the person or company responsible and point out the problem.

Smoke, dust and odour nuisance


We recommend that you do not have bonfires at domestic properties as it is likely that the smoke will cause nuisance to your neighbours and contributes to local air pollution. Although it is not illegal to have a bonfire It is an offence to:

  • cause a smoke nuisance; or
  • emit dark or black smoke from the burning of trade waste.

The council does not deal with odour or smoke associated with barbecues. If you affected by smoke from a domestic property, often the best approach is to talk to your neighbour and explain how the smoke is affecting you. If this does not solve the problem or you are not able to then contact the council for further assistance.

Homeowners/ Landlords please note if you have contractors/ builders working at your property please ensure that any waste materials are not burnt. This type of waste would be considered to be trade waste an as such burning would be an offence which carries fines up on conviction of up £20,000.

Commercial smoke nuisance


No business should be disposing of any waste materials by burning – this includes builders and contractors working on domestic properties. The Council can take action under section 33 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 (unauthorised disposal of trade waste) and under section 79 (smoke nuisance).The Clean Air Act 1993 also makes the emission of dark smoke or black smoke from the burning of trade waste an offence for which the council can take legal proceedings.

Odour nuisance


The council does not deal with odour nuisance from domestic properties such as cooking smells or barbecues. If you are disturbed by ongoing smell problems, and can identify the source, often the best option is to speak to your neighbour and explain how the smell is affecting you and politely ask that they resolve the cause of the odour. If the odour is associated with bonfires this is a matter you should report to the council for investigation.

Contact us about light, smoke and smells issues


If the nuisance is currently taking place, please call us on 020 8937 5252 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

Alternatively, fill out our nuisance form.

Outside of these times, if you have an emergency matter to report, please call 020 8937 1234 and press option 3 for Emergencies.

The out of hours emergency service operates Monday to Friday, 5pm until 2am and Saturday/Sunday, 6pm until 2am.

Alternatively, send an email to our Noise Team: ens.noiseteam@brent.gov.uk