Neighbour noise and abusive behaviour

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

If you're having a dispute with your neighbour about noise or they're being abusive, there are a number of things you can do. Read more about resolving neighbour disputes.

If your neighbour is making too much noise

If your neighbour is making too much noise, for example loud music or barking dogs, there are steps you can take.

If you feel comfortable, try to resolve the problem by speaking to your neighbour first. You should explain to them how the noise is affecting you. You should then ask them to reduce the noise - permanently or at certain times of the day. If your neighbour doesn't reduce the noise and they're a tenant, it might be worth contacting their landlord.

If the problem continues, it's helpful for you to keep a record or diary of what the disturbance is and how often it happens. This can be used as evidence in any future action.

If an informal approach is unsuccessful, you can take further action, including contacting your local council, usually the environmental health department. They might be able to visit your neighbour to ensure that the noise is reduced. For example, they might persuade your upstairs neighbour to go downstairs and listen to the noise and vibration caused by their washing machine in the flat below. Your neighbour might then agree not to run the washing machine at night. Find your local council on

If there's a problem with noisy building work

Each local council has recommended times for building work. To find out when building work noise is permitted, contact your local council. Find your local council on

Getting a noise notice served on your neighbour

If the local council officer thinks that a noise problem exists, a notice can be served on the neighbour. This notice will mean that the neighbour will be required to stop the noise. If they don't, they can then be issued with a fixed penalty notice.

Contacting the police about neighbour noise

The police also have specific powers to deal with excessive noise. They might be able to issue fines to people who have failed to stop making excessive noise after being asked to do so, or they might confiscate sound-producing equipment.

If there's too much noise on the street

Loudspeakers - except those used by the police, fire and ambulance services - shouldn't be used in the street at night. Ice cream and grocery vans can use chimes or bells between noon and 7pm.

You should complain about noise from loudspeakers or chimes to the police by calling 101 or to the environmental health department of your local council. Find your local council on

If you're concerned about CCTV or drones

If you have concerns about how a neighbour or your landlord is using CCTV or drones, there's information on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

If your neighbour is being abusive

If your neighbour is physically violent or verbally abusive or behaves in a dangerous way towards you, you should call the police.

In some cases, abusive behaviour might be part of a pattern of antisocial behaviour.

If your neighbour is abusive because of your race, religion or identity

If you've been harassed or attacked because of your race, religion, identity or disability, the person who attacked or abused you might have committed another offence. Some abuse from your neighbours might be classed as hate crime or discrimination. This is against the law.  

Attacks can include verbal abuse or threats and abusive slogans painted on a wall or building.

If your neighbours are discriminating against you, you can:

  • report antisocial behaviour - find out what antisocial behaviour covers

  • report them to your local council - they might be able to help even if your neighbours aren't local council tenants

  • report them to the police - if you're being harassed or victimised

  • take them to court - if you're being harassed or victimised.

There's specific action you can take when a housing problem is classed as discrimination.

If your neighbour is spreading rumours

If your neighbour is spreading rumours about you, you should consider what outcome you want. For example, taking action might bring more attention to the rumours in some cases, but tolerating the rumours can mean they become less frequent or disappear altogether.

If you want to take action, you could approach your neighbour if you feel comfortable and explain how the rumours are affecting you. A mediator might be able to help you both reach an agreement.

If speaking to your neighbour doesn't work, you could apply to court for an interdict. This is a court order to prevent your neighbour making negative and defamatory statements about you. However, it might be difficult to prove what the neighbour has said or done, and court action can be expensive.

If your neighbour has medical or psychological problems

If your neighbour has medical or psychological problems, this might affect their behaviour towards you and others.

If the neighbour has a regular visitor, such as another member of the family, a social worker, health visitor or doctor, you could talk to them. If you feel comfortable, you should explain how their behaviour is affecting you. They might be able to help you find a resolution.