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Housing Ombudsman publishes Spotlight report on noise complaints

The Housing Ombudsman has published its Spotlight report on noise complaints: Time to be heard, bringing together learning from a review of more than 800 noise related cases dealt with over three years together with insight from 374 responses to our call for evidence plus interviews with front line staff and residents of some individual landlords.

The Ombudsman has concluded that there is “fundamental unfairness in the social housing sector’s approach to noise complaints sees most of the issues treated as anti-social behaviour (ASB), even when they concern general household noise”.  The report makes 32 recommendations including:

  • A call for the Decent Homes standard to be revised to fully reflect the causes that can result in residents experiencing noise nuisance
  • Updating void standards to ensure that carpets are not removed unless in poor condition and hard flooring is removed when there have been reports of noise linked to the property, that properties have adequate insulation from transference noise and anti-vibration mats are fitted into the washing machine space as standard
  • Adopting a proactive good neighbourhood management policy, distinct to the ASB policy, with clear options for maintaining good neighbourhood relationships, such as mediation and information sharing, and reviewing the presence of staff on estates
  • Adopting a triage methodology to identify if a noise report should be handled under the ASB policy or the neighbourhood management policy, and reviewing ASB policies to ensure they are realistic and practicable and
  • Ensuring that residents who make noise reports are given information about their right to make a complaint if they are dissatisfied with the landlord’s proposal for handling the situation or the actions taken to address the situation.

Launching the report, Housing Ombudsman Rick Blakeway said:

“Noise is a significant driver of complaints after repairs, and it costs. It costs individuals their mental health and well-being and it costs landlords in protracted and often futile interventions, multi-agency liaison and staff morale. These costs are underestimated and may be avoidable, to some extent, by adopting the different approaches set out in this report”.

The Ombudsman will be running a webinar, aimed at landlords, governing body members and engaged residents, to discuss the report and answer questions. The session will take place on Wednesday 16 November at 2pm.