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Noise complaints rose to 1,000 a day during the pandemic says Churchill insurance

Complaints about neighbour noise have soared during the pandemic as people spend more time in their homes.

The number of complaints made to councils every day rose by 28 per cent, according to new research by insurer Churchill.

It found that there were 1,000 noise complaints a day, the equivalent of 40 an hour across Britain. 

The number of complaints made to councils every day rose by 28 per cent, according to new research by insurer Churchill

Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London, according to research by insurer Churchill

Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London, according to research by insurer Churchill

Nearly 370,000 noise complaints were made between April 2020 and March 2021, compared to 289,000 in the year previous. 

Most councils – at 86 per cent – reported an increase in noise complaints during the 2020 to 2021 period compared to the same period a year earlier. 

Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London.

The capital’s noise hotspots included Newham with 16,300 complaints, Islington at 15,900 and Kensington and Chelsea at 15,500.

Kensington and Chelsea saw the greatest number of neighbour noise complaints per capita, with 99 for every 1,000 inhabitants.

Neighbour noise has had a negative impact on the mental health of almost a third of people at 32 per cent, which equates to around 16.7million people, according to the survey.

Neighbours playing music was considered as the worst noise for mental health at 34 per cent.

It was followed by noise from children at 30 per cent, garden noise at 30 per cent, parties at 29 per cent and neighbours coming and going at antisocial hours at 24 per cent.

Nearly half at 43 per cent believe themselves to be more aware of noisy neighbours now than before the pandemic began, while more than a third at 39 per cent are more aware of their own noise now.

Nearly half at 43 per cent believe themselves to be more aware of noisy neighbours now than before the pandemic began

Nearly half at 43 per cent believe themselves to be more aware of noisy neighbours now than before the pandemic began

COUNCILS THAT RECEVED THE MOST NOISE COMPLAINTS IN 2020/21
Local council Noise complaints, 2020/21 Percentage increase vs 2019/20
Dudley 26,000 42
London Borough of Newham 16,300 47
London Borough of Islington 15.9 107
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea 15,500 18
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham 10,700 48
Birmingham 10,100 57
North Lanarkshire 9,100 -13
London Borough of Haringey 7,300 37
London Borough of Redbridge 6,400 73
Southampton 6,200 46
UK total 368,924 28
Source: Churchill Home Insurance   

Despite suffering from increased neighbour noise nuisance, only 11 per cent of those affected reported it to their local council. 

Based on a total of 370,000 noise complaints reported to councils in the last year, this suggests as much as 3.3million noise issues were caused in 2020/21, an average of more than 9,000 a day and much more than those officially recorded.

In 29 per cent of cases, the complainant spoke to their neighbour about the problem but in fewer than a third of these cases they were successful in stopping the noise. 

Other common actions taken were contacting the neighbour’s landlord at 16 per cent and reporting them to the police at 14 per cent.

Steven Williams, of Churchill home insurance, said: ‘The pandemic has seen us confined to our homes which means we’ve probably all become very aware of noises around us.

‘As we go into more of a ‘new normal’, many of us will carry on working from home, at least part of the time, so noisy neighbours will continue to be really disruptive.

‘It may be the case that neighbours don’t realise they are being noisy so the first step should always be speaking to them and explaining the problem. 

‘If that doesn’t work and they carry on, then keep a record of the type of noise and time of day and speak to your local council about raising a potential noise complaint.’ 

REGIONAL NOISE COMPLAINTS
Region Noise complaints, 2020/21 Percentage increase vs 2019/20 Share of all complaints 2020/21
London 123,919 37 34
West Midlands 50,049 36 14
South East 43,522 32 12
Scotland 35,643 8 10
East of England 23,659 19 6
North West 18,433 27 5
Yorkshire and the Humber 17,167 12 5
East Midlands 15,763 37 4
South West 15,651 21 4
Wales 12,982 23 4
North East 6,504 34 2
Northern Ireland 5,632 -17 2
Total 368,924 28 100
Source:  Churchill Home Insurance    

The research found that people are most likely to have been affected by noise in London, where 51 per cent of people have been negatively impacted by their neighbours.

It is followed by those in the North East at 37 per cent, and the South West and Scotland both at 34 per cent.

Dudley in the West Midlands took the top spot for number of neighbour noise complaints, with 26,000 complaints made to councils.

Birmingham also made the top 10, with 10,100 complaints received. North Lanarkshire was the only Scottish council that made it into the top 10, receiving 9,100 noise complaints last year.

At the other end of the scale, Wiltshire received only nine complaints last year, North Kesteven received 13 and Tamworth received 37.

On a broader regional basis, London accounted for 34 per cent of all noise complaints last year, with an average of 38 complaints for every 1,000 households.

On a household basis, this is ahead of the West Midlands at 22 per 1,000, Scotland at 15 per 1,000 and the South East at 12 per 1,000.

Every region saw an increase in noise complaints in the year April 2020 to March 2021 compared to the previous year except for Northern Ireland.

Psychologist Donna Dawson, said: ‘The past 18 months have seen our behaviour change in so many ways. With most of us being limited to our homes on a daily basis, it is understandable that noise complaints have risen. 

‘Even small changes in sound can cause increased anxiety and stress for many people, especially if it disrupts home life and makes it difficult to relax, work or look after family.

‘It is always best to try speaking to a neighbour if you feel their noise is unreasonable, but do so when you are not feeling anxious or angry at the time.’


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