Covid Scotland: Lockdown sparked a massive rise in noisy neighbour complaints across the Lothians

Complaints about noisy neighbours have risen by more than a quarter during the coronavirus pandemic, when multiple lockdowns forced people to follow stay-at-home orders.

Saturday, 2nd October 2021, 4:55 am

Let us know what you think and join the conversation at the bottom of this article.

Neighbours blasting loud music, rowdy gatherings and noisy children sparked a huge rise in the number of neighbour complaints during lockdown, new figures have shown.

More than 7,000 people called council staff in East Lothian, West Lothian at in Edinburgh to moan about the din coming from next door.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Noisy neighbours made lockdown a misery for some people.

Recently compiled data reveals West Lothian saw one of the largest rises in complaints across the UK – up 55 per cent – with 4,600 incidents recorded.

In Edinburgh the number rose 14 per cent to 800 complaints while in East Lothian there were 1,800, a rise of 46 per cent. Figures for Midlothian were not available.

In total, around 1,000 noise complaints a day were received by councils across the UK between 2020 and 2021, according to research by Churchill Home Insurance.

It sent Freedom of Information requests to all councils in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and received usable data from 70 per cent of them (269).

The racket made by some neighbours drove others to distraction.

Between April 2020 and March 2021, 368,924 noise complaints were made – a 28 per ent rise from the previous year, with 86 per cent of the councils reporting increases.

Dudley, in the West Midlands, recorded 26,000 noise complaints – the highest of any local authority.

Of the 10 councils recording the largest number of complaints, six were in London.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea received the greatest number of neighbour noise complaints per person in its area, with 99 for every 1,000 inhabitants.

Churchill Home Insurance also commissioned polling by Opinium of 2,000 adults in the UK between July 23 and 27.

Around a third (32%) of respondents said their mental health had been negatively affected by noise from neighbours.

The worst type of disturbance was neighbours playing music (34%), followed by noise from children or garden noise (30%), parties (29%) and coming and going at anti-social hours (24%).

Only 11 per cent who said they had been affected by noisy neighbours said they had reported it to their local council.

This suggests the true number of noise-related issues could be much higher, running into millions each year, Churchill Home Insurance said.

In 29 per cent of cases the person affected spoke to their neighbour, but the majority said they were unsuccessful in stopping the noise. Others contacted the neighbour’s landlord (16%) or reported them to the police (14%).

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 said the rise in complaints was understandable given the upheaval in people’s routines.

She said: “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.”

She recommends that people speak to their neighbours, but not when they are feeling anxious or angry.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.