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CSIGenie16
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25 May 2022, 3:38 am

Hi, new here, so im sorry if this is has already been covered.

I live in a council block of flats and although the walls are too hard to drill into, they're so pervious to sound, they may as well be in the room with you. A few years ago I went through a bit of trauma and since then I've become highly sensitive to light, touch and sound.

I've complained about the noise and it does generally get resolved, but there's always something and I often find myself rocking back and forwards or something else distressing until its gone.

I haven't worked much since "the thing" happened so I'm restricted financially to where my family can move.

Does my local council have an obligation to help? Southampton City Council are pretty hopeless and pass me from team to team until I give up, so I won't get an answer from them.

At the end of my tether and hoping someone might know something.

Thanks



timf
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25 May 2022, 5:35 am

Ear plugs can help.

The council might be able to put up sheets of foam or fiberglass insulation which can lower sound transmission.

If possible, you might find subsidized housing in a rural area.

Good luck.



CSIGenie16
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25 May 2022, 5:47 am

Thanks for your response. Sadly I think the ear plugs are the only option available to me.

I'll bury my head under a pillow for now



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25 May 2022, 6:04 am

Sorry you're having a bad time with it. When I had to sort out neighbour noise problems a few years ago, my city council was quite good about it, they had a "noise team" who would call round and take sound pressure readings, and then if the neighbours were over the legal limit they'd send them a threatening letter. They couldn't do much about unamplified voices though, and they said they couldn't take into account an individual's special sensitivity to noise, so if the noise was legally "reasonable" then I was stuck with it. I used to wish the neighbours would increase the volume so I could get them busted for it.

The council couldn't stop a neighbour who was running a business in the street either - he was out there every day installing sound systems into people's cars, and testing them and playing music for his own pleasure at deafening volume. So I called the police about him, and after 2 or 3 calls they sent a community officer round who said she'd have a word with him but that there wasn't much she could do legally because there's no law against making noise from a car that's on a public road, only if it's on somebody's property. Anyway, after she'd talked to him he stopped. I think his business was probably illegal and it might have scared him into keeping a lower profile.

Things are relatively quiet these days, which is just as well because when I look back I can hardly believe how courageously I tackled the problem and I'd be afraid to start contacting officials about it these days. I don't even know if the "noise team" still exists. I suppose I'm just scared of dealing with officials and only do it when the alternative makes me angry enough.

I say it's relatively quiet now, but it still bothers me quite a lot. I'm living in a mid-terrace house that has thin walls so unless the neighbours talk very quietly I can hear them, and they often raise their voices. As I can't get them stopped by using the law, I survive by playing music or a "masking sound" with an mp3 player and an amp and speakers. The speakers are in the best places to drown the neigbours out, i.e. close to the wall from which the noise comes. Pink noise is best because I don't notice it after it's been running a while, even if I have to turn it up quite loud. Wind and rain effects also work quite well. Luckily they don't seem to have a TV set or a music system in there, so their volume doesn't get too loud to drown out fairly easily.

There was one neighbour across the way who would play music through a system that had deep, loud bass that cuts through yards of brick like butter. In the end I put an anonymous note through his door telling him it was annoying me and asking him to keep it within legal limits. To my surprise the noise stopped and never came back. He was a creepy head case of a man with an anger management problem (I'd heard him yelling at people before) and he looked like he might get violent, that's why I didn't put my name and address on the note.

Another set of neigbours used to have this time of year when their religion had them fasting all day, so they'd get up at night and have a banquet. I used to put my music on really loud, then I'd fall asleep and it would be running all night. After a few years they complained to me about the noise I was making, so I explained I was only doing it because their noise was keeping me awake and that I'd be happy to stop it if they did. It worked, though they were annoyed at having to "creep about" making sure they didn't cause me to return fire. But as far as I'm concerned, night time is for sleeping and being quiet, and it's obviously going to annoy people if somebody doesn't get that.

Currently the neighbours are installing double glazing so they're making quite a lot of noise. I probably can't stop them, but it'll only be for a few days and they're not doing it in the mornings and evenings, so I just arrange to be out during the noisy hours as much as possible to give me a bit of relief from it, and I play my music loud to drown it out the rest of the time.

I've considered improving the sound resistance of the dividing wall, but it wouldn't be an easy job and it's hard to know how effective it would be. I own the house so there's no landlord to stop me, though if I make a mess of it I suppose it would lower the value of the place if I ever sell it. I was thinking of cementing a second layer of bricks onto the wall - I gather the more weight you can put between yourself and the noise, the quieter it gets - but I'm not a builder so I don't know if it would even be safe or effective. And it would cost quite a bit of money and time. But it would be great if it worked.

Noise is a big problem for sensitive people in crowded cities where they put people in tiny boxes with thin walls. You probably have to be rich to get away from it completely, but the methods I've mentioned have reduced the problem for me quite a bit.

It seems councils do have a duty to deal with noise pollution:

https://england.shelter.org.uk/professi ... with_noise

I don't know whether your disappointing experiences with them are because you haven't found the right section of the council or not. In my experience, service providers sometimes try to fob people off with as little help as possible and you might find you need to use the right words with the right person to get them to do anything. I wish you luck. It could take quite a bit of thought and work if the council doesn't want to know. Maybe Citizens' Advice could explain your options and / or take on your case? I haven't found them much use, but I only wanted their help with a divorce matter, which is obviously a very different problem.



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25 May 2022, 6:27 am

Yes, ear plugs but what would be better IMO is noise cancelling headphones, if you can stretch to that. I think they are worth every penny. You can play white or pink noise too to block other noises even better, or you can use the opportunity to enjoy some leisure (eg some comedy shows like on BBC Sounds, audiobooks) or even educate yourself though some podcasts or more formal learning audio classes.

If there is a particular time when the noise is intrusive, say when trying to sleep, could you push a v polite note under their door asking if they could adjust things going forward?



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25 May 2022, 9:48 am

Would not-too-loud ambient music in the background help?

I especially favor space music and trance music.

I listen to a lot of music by Steve Roach. (His music is not all the same so, if you're curious about it, I suggest sampling a number of his works to find the ones that work for you.)

I try not to play the music very loud. I just keep it in the background.

I compare it to the paint on the walls. It improves the space you are in even though you don't pay attention to it.


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25 May 2022, 5:54 pm

Did you fill out this form to make a complaint? If not, give it a try:

https://www.southampton.gov.uk/environm ... complaint/

If you don't get anywhere with that, contact your local citizens advice and they will advise on next steps.

In the meantime, keep a noise diary.


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25 May 2022, 6:14 pm

I have to go around the apartment with earplugs in because of my upstairs neighbours. I think they do yoga or something in the room above our bedroom, and also they have a baby that's always crying and you can hear it from every room.

Sometimes I get fed up with wearing earplugs all the time though because it makes communication difficult. But I can't concentrate on anything if I can hear the people upstairs moving around or their brat crying. I tend to listen for it, although I don't want to. Like if they're stomping into the room above my brain will become distracted from whatever I was doing and will count the steps, even though I don't want it to. I just can't ignore it and it makes me feel helpless because I know I've got to let people live and babies can't help crying, so I've just got to put up with it and wear earplugs all the time.

Yes, it sucks being working class (which is classed as poor in the UK) because usually you get thrown into apartment buildings with inconsiderate neighbours that are obsessed with barbecues, loud music, have noisy kids and babies, and don't seem to work.


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cecilfienkelstien
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26 May 2022, 12:42 pm

I can really relate to the noise issues. I think I am getting more sensitive as I age.


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cecilfienkelstien
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26 May 2022, 12:47 pm

Joe90 wrote:
I have to go around the apartment with earplugs in because of my upstairs neighbours. I think they do yoga or something in the room above our bedroom, and also they have a baby that's always crying and you can hear it from every room.

Sometimes I get fed up with wearing earplugs all the time though because it makes communication difficult. But I can't concentrate on anything if I can hear the people upstairs moving around or their brat crying. I tend to listen for it, although I don't want to. Like if they're stomping into the room above my brain will become distracted from whatever I was doing and will count the steps, even though I don't want it to. I just can't ignore it and it makes me feel helpless because I know I've got to let people live and babies can't help crying, so I've just got to put up with it and wear earplugs all the time.

Yes, it sucks being working class (which is classed as poor in the UK) because usually you get thrown into apartment buildings with inconsiderate neighbours that are obsessed with barbecues, loud music, have noisy kids and babies, and don't seem to work.

I am in Canada and where I live our affordable housing has several billions worth of repairs needed. We also need more housing. Our government just does not seem to care about the poor and needy. We were suppose to have a unit built near where I live and when the neighbours herd that the poor where going to move in they complain and then the building was cancelled.


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26 May 2022, 1:30 pm

Quote:
I am in Canada and where I live our affordable housing has several billions worth of repairs needed. We also need more housing. Our government just does not seem to care about the poor and needy. We were suppose to have a unit built near where I live and when the neighbours herd that the poor where going to move in they complain and then the building was cancelled.


In the UK they find any woodland areas or big fielded areas and build a million houses on it, but the houses that they build are quite standard but are still unaffordable for the working class. That's why it's becoming more common for adults in their 20s and 30s to still live with their parents.


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cecilfienkelstien
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27 May 2022, 9:00 am

Joe90 wrote:
Quote:
I am in Canada and where I live our affordable housing has several billions worth of repairs needed. We also need more housing. Our government just does not seem to care about the poor and needy. We were suppose to have a unit built near where I live and when the neighbours herd that the poor where going to move in they complain and then the building was cancelled.


In the UK they find any woodland areas or big fielded areas and build a million houses on it, but the houses that they build are quite standard but are still unaffordable for the working class. That's why it's becoming more common for adults in their 20s and 30s to still live with their parents.

I am in my thirties and still live with my parents. It is so expensive out there for people. I make sure I vote in every election and I always vote Left wing. Solidarity!!


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27 May 2022, 9:05 am

I think there is a lot of sense in adopting the Indian model of multi-generational households, especially with the economic and environmental situation that we face now and in the future. It makes a lot of sense in general when there is the possibility of vulnerable children and in their later years, parents. It should be encouraged in my view, rather than seen as some kind of a negative.



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27 May 2022, 9:08 am

^ as a follow-up, in the UK there are of course lots of reasons why average house price to income ratios are so high, but one factor that rarely gets spoken about is the surge in demand for housing caused by the boomer generation divorcing. Lots of money + suddenly a doubling in demand for housing for each affected household => economic consequence. I find it really interesting working through all of the factors, both supply and demand, that affect house price movements.



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27 May 2022, 9:13 am

Well, if they must have a system in which house prices are governed by what better-off people are prepared to pay instead of what they cost to build, they will get artificially expensive.



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27 May 2022, 9:50 am

It's called market forces, the interaction of supply and demand ;) So if there is no interference, it can't be described as artificially expensive, but of course can be unhelpfully expensive. The issue is there IS interference in the UK: planning laws, which constrain supply and increase prices. Also worth remembering that even if all new builds were required to be sold for the cost of the build (so the government would obviously have to subsidize house builders for any houses to ever be built), their price would still increase over time given the fundamental economics of the housing market. One of the biggest issues is the person in the mirror for the UK. UK is almost unique in its preferences for houses and ownership. These play a huge role in the prices we see in the market. I grew up in the Netherlands, where ownership was not common and I would say most people (then anyway) lived in apartments. It's similar to that in other European countries.

Back on topic: on the plus side, the environmental requirements for all new builds should I'd have thought help with noise reduction because of all of the insulation requirements and push for 'passive' residences.