Noise nuisance

Find out how councils deal with statutory nuisance complaints on the website.

Before you consider reporting a problem to the Council, you should try to talk to the person responsible for causing the problem (if you feel safe and able to do so). They might not realise they’re causing a problem. Sometimes writing a brief letter or having a quick chat (when you are ‘not’ angry) can resolve the problem. Our involvement can sometimes make things worse. This can happen if it’s the first time the people hear that there is a problem.

It can take several months once we begin our investigations, to resolving matters on your behalf and investigations could end up at court. 

If you are a housing association tenant, you should report your concerns to your housing association first. If you are a Reading Council tenant, you should report your concerns to the council’s anti-social behaviour team at

You can find out how we investigate noise complaints in our noise nuisance fact sheets. Please take the time to read this. If you do not wish to follow our process, we cannot progress your complaint. If your complaint goes to the legal enforcement stage you and other witnesses to the problem may have to give evidence in a court of law.

You will need to fill out diary sheets to show a noise is having an unreasonable effect on your use or enjoyment of your home or other premises. You should be as specific as possible when completing the diary sheets. Guidance on completing diary sheets. Submit completed sheets to

You may also like to make a log of the noise using The Noise App which can be downloaded for free. This will allow us to understand what you are experiencing.

Defining a statutory nuisance

When we are considering if something is a ‘statutory nuisance’ or not, we are applying the objective standards set out by legal precedent rather than what someone might consider to be a ‘nuisance’ or an ‘annoyance’ in everyday language. Therefore, some things a resident may feel is an annoyance or a nuisance may unfortunately not be seen as one in the eyes of the law. Usually for a nuisance to exist it would be:

  • unreasonably and substantially interfere with the use or enjoyment of a home or other premises
  • injure health or be likely to injure health

Examples of things that can’t be or have been found not to constitute a nuisance:

  • person/s carrying out DIY during the day and at weekends over a few weeks
  • noise from children playing in their garden or own home
  • an odour or smell coming from a domestic property e.g cooking odours
  • normal noise from aircraft, roads or railways
  • one off parties or a party which happens a couple of times a year
  • smoke and noise from a bonfire or fireworks on bonfire night
  • footsteps, talking, babies crying or television noise (non-excessive) from a neighbouring property that could be heard due to poor/substandard sound insulation between the properties.

Private legal action

If we cannot take action on your behalf, you can consider the private legal action route (common law nuisance). The legal threshold is lower for a common law nuisance compared to that of a statutory nuisance and can often be a quicker root to resolution.

Common law nuisance

A common law nuisance is one which, interferes with your use, enjoyment and rights in and around property. Taking out a civil action can be expensive, so it is advisable to seek the advice of a solicitor, or the Citizen’s Advice Bureau before going ahead.

Firework nuisance

Construction work

The recommended hours for noisy works are:

  • Monday to Friday 08:00 – 18:00hrs
  • Saturday 09:00 – 13:00hrs
  • No works on Sunday or Bank Holidays.

Any works required outside those hours must be approved by the Council. Works will only be approved where there is strong justification for working and noise is controlled as far as practicable.

University of Reading

We work closely with the University of Reading regarding complaints of noise related to student properties. Please visit the local community page for further information on measures the University is taking to help students settle into local neighbourhoods, and for the University’s Community Relations Team contact details if you wish to make a complaint.

Last updated on 19/07/2024