Keep your noise down

Complete silence in a city is unrealistic, but there are simple ways to avoid disturbing those around you.

1. Parties

If you are planning a party there are simple ways to avoid disturbing those around you:

  • think about hiring a licensed venue for your party instead of having it at home
  • tell your neighbours or consider inviting them along - If they know what's going on, they are less likely to mind
  • turn down the music - especially the bass which travels easier
  • close the windows
  • ask your guests to consider your neighbours when leaving
  • the later it gets, the quieter you should be, especially between 11pm and 7am
  • remember people also have to work at the weekends and are entitled to a decent night’s sleep
If there is a complaint about your party, we will pay you a visit.   

2. Music and TV

Although you may have the best TV or speakers on the market, your neighbours probably don't want to know.

  • avoid fixing the TV to the wall, especially to an adjoining wall
  • if they must be attached to the wall use an anti-vibration mount
  • move speakers away from the wall and raise them off the floor
  • turn down the volume
If you can hear your music in another room, your neighbours probably can too.

If you are disturbed by your neighbour's TV or speakers: 

  • talk to your neighbour or write them a letter - they may not know they are causing a problem
  • if this is not appropriate or the noise continues, report the problem online 

3. Around and about the house

The Noise Team take a more lenient view of DIY (depending on the scale and nature of the work) than commercial work, and do permit DIY activities to take place beyond the normal contractor’s hours. 

Householders working alone or with limited help often have far less time to carry out home improvements than a paid contractor and the team recognises this.

Generally, it is acceptable for householders to undertake DIY work between the following hours:

  • Monday to Saturday : 8am to 9pm 
  • Sundays and Bank holidays: 10am to 4pm 

We recommended you do not work for more than 3 or 4 hours on each day. 

The Noise Team will consider each case on its own merits when considering how to tackle DIY noise complaints and will consider the equipment used, and the overall duration of the job.

Let your neighbours know when you are about to carry out noisy work.

Washing machines 

To avoid complaints ensure your washing machine is properly balanced and has finished its cycle by 9pm at the latest.

4. Animals

Leaving animals on their own is sometimes inevitable, but it means they can get lonely and cause a nuisance to neighbours

Avoid leaving your pets alone for too long and make sure that there are plenty of toys to keep them occupied during the day.

DEFRA has produced a leaflet on practical ways to reduce your dogs barking

Information for owners can also be found through the Dog’s Trust or the RSPCA websites.

Our approach

The Noise Team will try to work with the animal’s owner in taking measures that will lessen the nuisance before taking formal action. We also have an  animal warden service which deals with stray dogs, dog fouling and other nuisances.

5. Alarms

All audible intruder alarms should be fitted with a 20 minute cut out device.  If your alarm does not have this function or it fails to work, you are liable for the costs of making your property safe again if we have to force entry to the property to disable your alarm.

To prevent damage to your home and avoid these costs, you can nominate someone to be a key holder so that they can open the door and disable or reset the alarm. The council maintains its own voluntary register of key holders.

Register your alarm and key holder

What we can do

If a house alarm has been sounding for more than 20 minutes continuously or intermittently for over an hour and is affecting residents, it is deemed a nuisance and the council has the right to take any action necessary to turn it off.

As well as recovering the costs incurred by the council in these incidents it is possible that we may prosecute individuals, which may lead to a fine. However we prefer to use informal methods where possible.

When we can locate the owner or occupier

Once an alarm has been deemed a nuisance we will work with the police and neighbours to locate the owner or occupier. If they can be located the council will give them a reasonable time to de-activate the alarm.

If we can’t locate the owner or occupier within 1 hour

If the alarm is still sounding, we have the right and obligation to de-activate the alarm. We use specialists to unlock doors and de-activate the alarm – it may be possible to access and silence the alarm bell from the outside.

All costs incurred by the council will be recovered from the owner or occupier of the property. For this reason it is important to follow the guidance set out below which will stop your alarm becoming a nuisance.

Guidance to owners of a property alarm

  • give the Noise team details of your key holder
  • make sure your alarm system is well maintained – for example fix faulty sensors
  • make sure your alarm has a 20 minute cut out
  • leave a key with someone close by who can disable the alarm and leave their details with your neighbours

​Our obligations to alarm owners

  • if we enter your property we will leave it secured
  • if we damage locks we will replace them with locks of equal or better quality
  • we will leave a notice inside to inform you of the reason the alarm has been silenced
  • if we change the locks we will leave a note explaining where to collect the new keys

Collecting new keys

If the locks have been changed you can claim the new keys immediately by going to Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP with valid identification and proof of ownership or occupation of the property.

6. Car alarms

A vehicle alarm that is sounding continuously or intermittently and is affecting residents is a nuisance. The council can serve a Noise Abatement Notice on the vehicle owner, requiring the alarm to be deactivated within an hour. We can act even when the vehicle is located on private land such as a driveway. If the council has to take action to deactivate your alarm we will seek to recover our costs from you and you may face prosecution as a result which may lead to a fine. 

When we can locate the owner

We do everything possible to find the owners of noisy vehicles, liaising with the police and neighbours. Once the owner has been located we allow a reasonable amount of time to de-activate the alarm, extending the one hour limit if necessary.

When we can't locate the owner

If an alarm is still sounding after one hour and the owner hasn’t been found, the council can deactivate the alarm. We take every care not to cause damage and use specialist companies to do the work for us. If it is not possible to unlock a door we have the power to break a window, although this is rarely necessary. We will not necessarily enter a vehicle - it will depend on the type of vehicle and where it is located. 

Some vehicles have sophisticated alarms that cannot be deactivated by alarm specialists. If this is the case we may tow the vehicle away.

 What we do once we have de-activated your alarm

  • we will not leave your vehicle unsecured
  • if we can not secure the vehicle we will arrange to have it towed away
  • if we enter your vehicle and leave it secured in its original position we leave a notice inside to inform you of the situation
  • we will also write to you, if the address is known, explaining the situation
  • the police will be informed of the action so that if you return to your vehicles and find it missing you be notified of the situation as soon as you phone the police

Reclaiming Vehicles

You can reclaim your vehicle by presenting your drivers license and vehicle registration documents to the manager of the car pound. Owners of vehicles that have been towed are liable to the cost of towing and impounding the vehicle. 

Last updated: 15 June 2020