New research reveals that one in six Brits have had to move in order to escape noise pollution.
The research, carried out for home improvement specialists Everest, also worryingly found that 46 per cent of Brits are woken, or kept awake, at least once a week by noise from outside.
The extraordinary findings emerged following a comprehensive study on 2000 UK adults, who reveal a series of nightmares, with noisy neighbours, anti-social behaviour, out-of-control pets and loud traffic noise. Those affected claim to be disrupted on average seventy nights a year – and fears are growing that a generation of sleepless Brits are risking their health.
Noise pollution can be a particular problem for estate and letting agents to tackle, however the impact on tenants can be huge.
Those suffering from lack of sleep describe mood swings, temper tantrums and an inability to concentrate properly, and say that the problem affects their performance at work, as well as their confidence and mood,
Commenting on the findings, psychologist and TV expert Emma Kenny said,
“In the modern age, where life is fast paced and where the work-life balance can feel challenging, finding sanctuary is more important than ever. Noise disturbance is annoying at the best of times, but more importantly it can cause health issues when it interferes with our sleep patterns.
“Getting an uninterrupted and peaceful night’s sleep ensures we are physically and emotionally rested and allows our bodies to heal from the stresses and strains of modern day living. If the noise outside is affecting our ability to rest and relax, we are likely to experience a whole host of negative issues, including irritability, lack of focus and exhaustion, which can impact on every aspect of our life. That’s why it’s imperative to create a relaxing space, with as little noise pollution as possible.”
How agents can resolve noise complaints
Noise complaints are often the bane of estate agents lives, as tenants will often turn to them first. A spokeman for Move.UK.Let says if the noisy neighbour is also renting through the same landlord, they can sometimes help – after all, good tenants can be hard to find.
“Tenants will normally have a clause in their Tenancy Agreement prohibiting them from actions and/or behaviour that cause a nuisance to their neighbours. Lettings agents will notify the tenants that they have had complaints (this can be anonymous).”
When a tenant leaves, agents should be aware if they have been previous complaints about noise in the property, they should be careful to not misrepresent the property to the next tenant. Under the Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations 2014, a tenant has a right to ‘unwind’ a tenancy where the tenant has been induced to enter into the contract by an unfair practice. This would include telling untruths about the tenancy – for example, that it is a quiet property when it is not. In such cases, the new tenant can bring civil proceedings to end the tenancy and recover their fees within the first 90 days.
Contacting the local council
If an estate agent is unable to resolve the issue, they should advise their tenant to contact the council. Under the Noise Act 1996 and other associated legislation, the local council must investigate any noise that is deemed to be a ‘nuisance’. If the offender’s noise is deemed a nuisance, then the Council can issue an Abatement Notice. The notice will stipulate that either the noise must stop completely, be reduced to a certain level, or is only permitted during certain times of the day.
If the neighbour fails to comply with the notice, they can be fined up to £5,000 (or up to £20,000 if it’s a business creating the noise). Any device such as a sound system can also be seized by an Environmental Health Officer or the police for up to 28 days until the court decides what should be done with it.
Many feel moving is the only option
Researchers also found many people saying moving was their only option, with 16% of people saying they moved home already because of noise, and an additional 5% saying it is something they are looking at – and 14 per cent said they would have moved house if they could.
Martin Troughton, Marketing Director at Everest, says,
“While many of us will know from personal experience that a disturbed night’s sleep can have a detrimental impact on how we feel the next day, the scale of the issue identified through this research is something of a surprise. Almost half of the adults in this country are being affected by noise every week, which is having a huge influence on their mood and overall state of mind. The fact that more than a third of us have moved home or considered it due to noise from outside is simply staggering.
“Although over two thirds of those surveyed said they wouldn’t ask the person creating the disturbance to keep the noise down, there are other things they can do to mitigate the problem. Landlords can fit sound-reducing products, such as windows made with laminated acoustic glass, which will help to reduce the noise, as well as potentially improving the property’s energy efficiency and security.”