Noise

We can investigate many types of noise where it affects you in your home, including excessive barking from dogs, music, televisions, excessive DIY and intruder alarms.

We cannot normally deal with:

  • children playing
  • speech
  • day-to-day domestic noise (e.g. lawn mowing, vacuum-cleaning etc.)
  • rowdy behaviour in the street
  • traffic noise (including roadworks and maintenance)
  • railway noise (including maintenance works)
  • aircraft noise.

Before you make a complaint

You should first try to resolve the problem early on by talking to whoever is responsible for the noise, before going down the formal complaint route.

How to make a complaint

You can contact us with your name and address, the address the noise is coming from and how the noise is affecting the use of your property

You can find out more about how we deal with complaints and what happens next on our frequently asked questions page.

The diary of disturbance forms available Icon for pdf here [245.85KB] can be used to start making records of how and when you are disturbed by the noise.

Out of hours noise complaints

If you are contacting us outside of office hours Monday to Friday your complaint will be passed to officers on the next working day.

The Council does not operate a 24 hour call out service for the investigation of noise complaints. Once we are investigating complaints having received a completed diary sheet suggesting there is a problem we can make arrangements to visit out of hours or use recording equipment (subject to the prioritisation of workloads and availability of officers and equipment).

Can I make an anonymous complaint?

We do not routinely investigate anonymous complaints. We need to satisfy ourselves that the complaint is genuine and because the law requires us to assess the impact of noise on the complainant.

Noise from barking dogs

If you are disturbed by a barking dog you should try to discuss your concerns with your neighbour in the first instance. They may not realise their dog is disturbing you.

If you feel unable to approach them directly try writing a polite letter (remember to keep a copy).

If relations between you and your neighbour have deteriorated and the dog barking is just an additional problem you may decide the best approach is to consider mediation.

Making a complaint to us

We will need you to provide the following and the diary sheets available  here [245.85KB] may help you to record this information:

  • details of where the noise is coming from, the house number/name and street name
  • what time the noise happens, e.g. early in the morning
  • your name, address and contact telephone number.

We will write to your neighbour and let them know we have had a complaint.

We can only take action where we are satisfied a statutory nuisance exists. As a general guide the noise should be ongoing and have a major impact on your life, not merely causing an annoyance.

If from your diary sheets it shows there may be a statutory nuisance then we will look at taking further action. This could be putting noise recording equipment in or an officer visiting to witness the noise and assess if the noise constitutes a nuisance.

If a nuisance is confirmed we will serve a Noise Abatement Notice preventing further noise nuisance. Failure to comply with a Noise Abatement Notice is a criminal offence.

We will not reveal the source of the complaint at the initial stage of the investigation but if the case ended up in court then your identity may be revealed.

What you can do if your dog barks a lot

  • The more tired a dog is the less it will bark - organise regular exercise.
  • Do not let your dog bark or whine for long periods or leave it alone for long periods.
  • Try not to excite your dog too much when playing as this will lead to barking - try to keep it calm.
  • Do not leave your dog outside late at night or very early in the morning if it is prone to barking.
  • Consider seeking professional advice from a vet or pet behaviour specialist.
  • See the barking dog advice from DEFRA.

Noise from burglar and car alarms

If you are being disturbed by a burglar alarm, what you can do?

During office hours 

If the alarm has not cut out after 20 minutes, contact us and we will attempt to find a key holder or resident. If this is not possible, or they are not contactable, and the alarm is causing a nuisance we will silence the alarm. We will recover all costs involved in disabling a burglar alarm from the property owner.

Outside office hours

We have no out of hours service to deal with noise therefore, in the first instance speak to your neighbours and see if they have a contact number for the owner/occupier of the property.

Where you cannot contact the occupier contact our switchboard on 01932 838383, our out of hours contact centre number will be provided towards the end of a recorded message. We may hold key holder details if the householder has voluntarily registered them with us and we will attempt to contact them. Where no key holder details are available  complaints will be followed up the next working day.

Installing an intruder alarm

If you install an alarm you are advised to ensure that it is fitted with a 20 minute cut-off device

Car alarm going off - what should I do?

Car alarms can be activated when the car battery is running flat, in strong winds or if there is an electrical fault. If an alarm keeps going off and it does not cut out or goes off continuously it can cause a noise nuisance.

During office hours

Contact us and provide the vehicle make, model and registration number. If the alarm is going off intermittently at different times, we will write to the owner and ask they deal with the matter urgently. If the alarm is going off continuously, we will make every effort to contact the registered keeper of the vehicle. If this is not possible, or they are not contactable, and the alarm is still causing a statutory nuisance we will serve a notice and undertake to immobilise the alarm or have the car removed to a secure pound. We can recover all costs involved in disabling a car alarm from the registered keeper.

Outside office hours

We have no out of hours service to deal with noise therefore if you know the owner of the vehicle an initial approach may resolve the situation. If you don't know the owner, try asking a neighbour, they may be able to provide the owner's contact details. The sooner you can establish who the owner is, the sooner the alarm can be silenced.

Where you cannot contact the owner of the car please contact us and your complaint will be followed up the next working day.

What can be done about construction noise?

Development is necessary and noise is to be expected from a building site, however builders should plan to use the least disruptive equipment and methods of working to avoid unnecessary noise.

We have established the following guideline hours for noisy works:

  • 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 1pm on Saturday.

There should be no noisy work on Sundays or Public Holidays.

If you are being unreasonably disturbed by construction noise talk to builders in the first instance, many larger developments display a telephone number for complaints or may be part of the 'considerate construction' scheme.

Where it is unavoidable to carry out noisy construction work outside of the guideline hours you should apply for prior consent at least 21 days in advance. Please email environmentalhealth@runnymede.gov.uk for more details and an application form.

Mediation

Mediation is a way of helping people explore their problems and aims to help people communicate effectively with other parties in dispute situations.

With the help of trained mediators neighbours get a real chance to address their problems in a non-confrontational, safe and sensitive manner, with the aim of allowing those involved to live side by side more peacefully without fear or loss of quality of life.

Advantages of mediation

  • You remain in complete control of the process
  • Mediators do not take sides
  • Community mediation within Runnymede is free
  • Mediation Surrey, an independent charity, has undertaken mediation within the Borough of Runnymede since 1998.

Think mediation is not for you? Please don't dismiss mediation, see the short video about mediation available on the Mediation Surrey website.

How does it work?

If you are having a problem with your neighbours, you can contact Mediation Surrey directly or through us. With your permission trained mediators will visit you at home to listen to your problems. A similar visit will be made to your neighbours.

If you are both willing, a mediation session with both parties together will be arranged in a private venue. During the session, both sides have a chance to talk without being interrupted. The mediators ensure any anger is safely contained.

Usually an agreement is reached which both parties are willing to accept. The agreement may be written down and signed but it is not legally binding. Over 85% of mediated cases conclude with a positive result.

For more information

Contact us by calling 01932 838383 or email environmentalhealth@runnymede.gov.uk and we can refer you or visit the Mediation Surrey website which contains a number of videos on how the process works.