News article

RHE Global

Noise Nuisance: Beyond the Complaint

How can we move beyond the limitations of ASB policy? Read on for Jim Nixon's view.

RHE Global logo
RHE Global logo
RHE Global logo

RHE Global

30 Nov 2023

In the realm of housing management, noise complaints often fall under the umbrella of anti-social behaviour (ASB) policies and procedures.

While addressing noise nuisance is crucial for maintaining a harmonious living environment, it is essential to recognise that noise complaints can sometimes mask underlying issues that require a more nuanced perspective.

The recent incident involving a housing association’s handling of a noise complaint, which tragically culminated in the death of the reporter, serves as a stark reminder of the complexities that lie beneath the surface of noise nuisance. This incident underscores the need for housing providers to manage noise investigations in detail, in a way that extends beyond the mere assessment of the noise itself, to encompass the potential risks associated to the reporter(s).

Expanding the investigation beyond noise

When investigating noise complaints, housing providers must adopt a comprehensive approach that considers the wellbeing of both the reporter and the alleged noisemaker. This involves:

  • Understanding the context: Delving into the background of the noise complaint, including any history of disputes or underlying issues between the parties involved


  • Assessing potential vulnerabilities: Identifying these, along with any risk factors that may be exacerbated by the noise nuisance, such as mental health concerns, domestic abuse or social isolation


  • Tailoring the response: Addressing the specific needs of the situation, rather than relying on a rigid ASB policy (It may be that the noise is due to the condition of the building, hard flooring or even a vibrating washing machine.)

The need for a good neighbourhood management policy
The Housing Ombudsman’s Spotlight on Noise Complaints report recommends that housing associations implement a good neighbourhood management (GNM) policy to effectively address noise complaints.

A GNM policy goes beyond ASB and encompasses a broader framework for promoting positive community relations and addressing a range of issues that can contribute to noise disturbances.

A GNM policy should incorporate the following key elements:

1.     Prevention: Proactive measures to prevent noise problems, such as promoting good neighbourliness, providing clear expectations for acceptable noise levels and addressing potential noise sources through building design and maintenance.

2.     Early intervention: Prompt and effective responses to early signs of noise issues, such as through mediation, conflict resolution techniques and community engagement initiatives.

3.     Tailored responses: Flexible and adaptable responses to noise complaints, considering the specific circumstances, underlying causes and potential risks associated with each case.

4.     Vulnerability assessment: Recognition of potential vulnerabilities or risk factors that may be exacerbated by noise nuisance, such as mental health concerns, domestic abuse or social isolation.

5.     Communication and engagement: Effective communication with tenants throughout the noise investigation process, ensuring transparency, addressing concerns and fostering a sense of community ownership.

6.     Data and evidence-driven approach: Collection and analysis of data on noise complaints to identify patterns, assess the effectiveness of interventions and inform policy development.

7.     Continuous review and improvement: Regular review of GNM policies and procedures to ensure they remain effective and aligned with evolving needs and community dynamics.

The role of The Noise App
The Noise App can play a pivotal role in streamlining noise investigations and ensuring data accuracy and accessibility.

The Housing Ombudsman’s report into the recent death of a tenant made the following recommendation:

The landlord should review the IT solution it provides to its residents in respect of noise recording. This Service notes that there are IT solutions available that allow the simple collection and storage of noise data so that it can be reviewed by landlords without risk of it being deleted within a short space of time.

The Noise App includes features such as:

  • Easy recording and submission of noise evidence, enabling tenants to conveniently record and submit noise nuisance directly through the app


  • Data accessibility and downloadability, giving housing officers straightforward access to noise recordings and other relevant data for thorough investigations


  • Data integrity and compliance, ensuring that all noise data is handled in accordance with data protection regulations and is readily available for audits or legal proceedings: housing providers are in total control and can delete data in line with their data retention policy and procedure.

Prioritising safety and wellbeing
Noise nuisance is not merely a matter of inconvenience; it can have profound consequences for the safety and wellbeing of those involved. Housing providers must recognise the potential risks associated with noise complaints, considering the welfare of all parties involved. By leveraging technology and taking a holistic investigative tack, they can effectively address noise nuisance while supporting their tenants.

Conclusion
The implementation of a good neighbourhood management policy, in conjunction with The Noise App, can empower housing providers to effectively address noise complaints, promote harmonious living environments and safeguard the wellbeing of their tenants.

By moving beyond the limitations of ASB policies and embracing a comprehensive approach that includes the use of technology, housing providers can foster a sense of community, prevent noise problems and ensure that noise complaints are handled with sensitivity, understanding and the utmost care.

Jim Nixon, Director of Community Safety

 

 

Don’t miss a thing

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates

smarter
public

protection

© 2023 RH Environmental Limited trading as RHE Global. All rights reserved.

Don’t miss a thing

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates

smarter
public

protection

© 2023 RH Environmental Limited trading as RHE Global. All rights reserved.

Don’t miss a thing

Subscribe to our newsletter to receive regular updates

smarter
public

protection

© 2023 RH Environmental Limited trading as RHE Global. All rights reserved.