Cases relating to complaints about noise feature in the decisions published by the Ombudsman as part of its regular fortnightly publication.

It comes ahead of the Ombudsman’s next systemic investigation focused on noise complaints to be published later this month, which will make recommendations and share learning across the sector.

The Spotlight thematic report examines the issues based on hundreds of complaints and insights about noise from over 400 landlords and residents. It focuses on the need for landlords to respond appropriately to noise depending on whether it concerns reports about household noise rather than anti-social behaviour, but most landlords conflate the two issues.

The Ombudsman’s decisions, published every two weeks, now total more than 2,750 and show the range of issues it can consider as well as the type of outcomes following an investigation. The landlord in each case is identified. Among the decisions published featuring a noise issue are:

  • A case about Arun District Council’s (ref 201805246) response to a resident’s reports of noise nuisance from the flat above, which had a serious and long term effect. It did not take all the action it would have been appropriate and reasonable to take, such as installing noise monitoring equipment, and failed to refer the case to environmental health within a reasonable time so that the level of noise could be established with a view to reaching a view on whether or not it amounted to a statutory nuisance.
  • A resident’s complaint about ‘persistent intolerable noises during the night’ which he submitted as an anti-social behaviour (ASB) report to his landlord, Wandle Housing Association (ref 201911000). While there were difficulties progressing the investigation due to the resident’s reluctance to deal with a particular staff member and in obtaining further information from the resident about his reports, the landlord failed to adhere to its ASB policy and procedures, prolonging resolution.
  • A case about Sandwell Council (ref 202014265) where a resident complained about noise from the upstairs neighbour’s floorboards. The landlord appropriately asked the neighbour to replace laminate flooring with carpet to minimise noise transference but the resident continued to experience noise. As the landlord was responsible for the maintenance of the structure of the property, it was reasonable to expect it to arrange a technical inspection or survey but there was no evidence that it did.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: “These cases give a small glimpse of the type of cases we’ve seen concerning noise and already provide learning for other landlords across the sector.

“We know that noise is a major cause of complaints but, unlike repairs, is debated less despite its complexities. Our Spotlight report brings together learning from a review of more than 800 noise related cases that we’ve dealt with over three years together with insight from the 374 responses to our call for evidence plus interviews with front line staff and residents of some individual landlords.

“The report will set out why strengthening the sector’s response to noise nuisance is essential. Noise costs; it costs individuals their mental health and well-being and it costs landlords in protracted and often futile interventions, multi-agency liaison and staff morale.

“These costs are underestimated and may be avoidable, to some extent, by adopting the different approaches that will be set out in the report.”

Following publication of the Spotlight report, the Ombudsman will be running a webinar. It will take place on Wednesday 16 November at 2pm. See registration details.