A recent “Spotlight on Noise” investigation carried out by the Housing Ombudsman has made a number of recommendations on respect of how landlords handle complaints of noise nuisance. At the heart of its investigations findings was a perceived fundamental unfairness in that most noise reports concern household noise rather than anti-social behaviour (ASB), and yet most landlords handle it under the ASB policy. In many instances this resulted in intermittent music or the washing machine running at night (more common given the energy crisis) being viewed through the lens of ASB, which is unfair to both the resident making the complaint and the resident being complained about. .
To handle noise reports that do not meet the statutory threshold, the Housing Ombudsman has recommended that landlords adopt a proactive “good neighbourhood management” policy, distinct to the ASB policy, with clear options for maintaining good neighbourhood relationships. The policy should handle non-statutory noise issues seriously, sensitively and proportionately and would include interventions including mediation and other practical solutions such as carpets, anti-vibration mats etc.
In response to the recommendations, SHG are running a “Focus on Noise” workshops with customers and staff to gauge views on what types of noise should be dealt with under which policy taking into account the time of day the noise occurs, its duration and frequency, intent and also the harm it is causing. A new “Neighbourhood Resolution Officer” has been introduced who will deal with all noise reports in the first instance with a view to resolving noise issues through early intervention and support. In cases where the noise continues, and can be classified as deliberate and intentionally causing harm, then the matter will be passed over to an Safer Neighbourhoods Officer for a robust enforcement approach to resolving the issue. The new Good Neighbourhood Management policy will be finalised a formally launched at the end of May 2023.