2020/21 saw a 28 per cent increase in the number of noise complaints to councils
Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London
Dudley in the West Midlands recorded 26,000 - the highest number of any council
Neighbour noise has negatively impacted the mental wellbeing of 16.7 million people since March 2020
The pandemic has seen complaints about noisy neighbours hit 1,000 a day, the equivalent of 40 an hour across the UK, reveals new research1 from Churchill Home Insurance.
Nearly 70,000 noise complaints were made between April 2020 and March 2021, 28 per cent more than the previous year when 289,000 complaints were made. Most councils (86 per cent) reported an increase in noise complaints in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20.
Neighbour noise has had a negative impact on the mental health of almost a third of Brits2 (32 per cent), some 16.7 million people, with neighbours playing music seen the worst noise for mental health (34 per cent). This was followed by the noise from children (30 per cent), garden noise (30 per cent), parties (29 per cent) and neighbours coming and going at antisocial hours (24 per cent).
Nearly half (43 per cent) of Brits, 22.7 million people, believe themselves to be more aware of noisy neighbours now than pre-pandemic, while over a third (39 per cent) are more aware of their own noise now.
Despite suffering from increased neighbour noise nuisance, just 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 3.3 million noise issues were caused in 2020/21, an average of more than 9,000 a day and much more than those officially recorded.
In almost five million cases (29 per cent), the victim spoke to their neighbour about the issue but in fewer than a third (29 per cent) of these cases they were successful in stopping the noise. Other common actions taken were contacting the neighbour's landlord (16 per cent) and reporting them to the police (14 per cent).
Steven Williams, Head 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.'
Psychologist Donna Dawson, says: '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.
'When subjected to ongoing noise that is out of your control, there are a few techniques which might help you cope. These include moving to another room if possible and use a distraction of your own, such as TV, music or radio; use earplugs to deaden the strength of the sound; take deep breaths from your diaphragm on a slow count of ten on both the inhale and exhale to relax yourself; and even try some vigorous exercise, like jumping jacks, to burn off those stress hormones. 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.'
People are most likely to have been affected by noise in London, where half (51 per cent) of people have been negatively impacted by their neighbours. This is followed by those in the North East (37 per cent), South West and Scotland (both 34 per cent).
Six of the top 10 councils with the highest number of noise complaints were in London, with Newham (16,300), Islington (15,900) and Kensington and Chelsea (15,500) the capital's noise complaint hotspots. Kensington and Chelsea saw the greatest number of neighbour noise complaints per capita, with 99 for every 1,000 inhabitants.
Dudley in the West Midlands took the top spot for number of neighbour noise complaints in 2020/21, 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 which made it into the top 10, receiving 9.100 noise complaints last year.
Table one: Councils which received the most noise complaints in 2020/21
+28 per cent
Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2021
At the other end of the scale, Wiltshire received just nine complaints last year, North Kesteven received 13 and Tamworth received 37.
On a broader regional basis, London accounted for more than a third (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 (22 per 1,000), Scotland (15 per 1,000) and the South East (12 per 1,000). Every region saw an increase in noise complaints in 2020/21 compared to the previous year except for Northern Ireland.
Table two: Regional noise complaints
Source: Churchill Home Insurance 2021
Notes to Editor
1 FOIA request to all local councils across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of the 381 local councils, of which 272 (71.4%) responded and 269 (70.6%) did so with usable data.
2 Research conducted by Opinium amongst 2,000 UK adults between 23rd - 27th July 2021
For further information please contact:
Churchill PR Manager
Email: [email protected]
Founded in 1989, Churchill is now one of the UK's leading providers of general insurance, offering car, home, travel and pet insurance cover over the phone or on-line.
Churchill general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.
Churchill and U K Insurance Limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.
Customers can find out more about Churchill products or get a quote by calling 0300 200 300 or visiting www.churchill.com