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In a recent dispute with my neighbour, who is adjoined to my semi-detached town house, I was told that I cannot legally use my vacuum cleaner between the hours of 8pm through 8am weekdays and 8pm through 9am on weekends and bank holidays.

Typically I vacuum between 7pm and 9pm based on council noise regulations of "noise nuisances" from which I quote the following from Gov.uk:

[Councils] may also issue warning notices in response to complaints about noise above permitted levels from 11pm to 7am. These warning notices can be used by councils for noise that’s not a statutory nuisance.

The information from my neighbour was relayed to me from their "barrister daughter", though I've no way to confirm that she has a daughter, or if that she is indeed a barrister. They say if I vacuum again outside of the 8/9am through 8pm restriction they will take a case to their solicitor.

Legally, how accurate are these times according to the law?

Further information:

I am trying to be reasonable and have been ignored in previous attempts to speak to them. The information above was brought to me in an angry confrontation in response to me posting a letter through their door the following evening, which was in turn a response to us hearing shouting and swearing on the phone about the situation, though the recipient of the call is unknown.

I am a 25 year old full time worker (9 - 5) with a 1 hour commute each way, allowing for no midday vacuuming. My wife (23 years old) looks after our two children (1 and 4) during the day while also working part-time and using a sitter. Mornings and evenings are the only time we can vacuum.

My neighbour is a 40/50 something man who works mostly nights which are, apparently, 12 hours shifts. I have told him that I respect this which is why I try to vacuum as the kids go to bed, then quickly again at 8am, instead of a long vacuum session between 7am and 8am (I depart for work and the wife/kids to school at 8am). An elderly woman (who've I've partly assumed to be his mother) also lives there though it seems that's only on occasion, it's hard to tell since when she visits her car is in the garage. She is the one who came up me with the information about the legal times for vacuuming (I asked to speak to the gentleman but I was refused for unknown reasons).

  • chack your rental contract and local noise level rules, which might differ from the country wide ones. – Trish Mar 17 at 12:34
  • You've already linked to the national guidance, and few councils vary from it in general, so their legal advice sounds made up imho. Go to the Citizens Advice Bureau for confirmation for free, but this sounds like they made the times up to suit their argument rather than anything backed by law. – user4210 Mar 17 at 21:22
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There are no such limits. The piece you quoted which has time limits refers to "noise above permitted levels" - vacuuming is unlikely to qualify.

Not a legal comment, but do you need to vacuum every day? We give the house a thorough clean once a week, plus the odd minute of vacuuming in the kitchen in between.

Is your neighbour from Germany? There (and in neighbouring countries), there are such limits.

  • Thanks for your input. Yes, daily (sometimes twice or more) is required - we have two young children and three dogs. I'm not a clean-freak (much to the ire of my wife) but I always notice when it requires vacuuming. Even limited foodstuffs to the kitchen doesn't prevent children and dogs from making a mess. No, my neighbour is very much English and since his (I presume based on age difference) mother also has a strong Yorkshire accent I'd say he has lived here since birth. – Kallum Tanton Mar 18 at 14:36
  • I'd also point out that the neighbour is quite wealthy (I was invited briefly inside once on an unrelated topic) and drives quite an expensive car (plus a second, smaller car). He also lives on his own (besides his visiting mother) and is usually either working, gaming or sleeping, so I would assume his vacuuming schedule is pretty empty, this may distort his view on the subject. In fact I've never once heard a vacuum coming from his house, but it's most likely he does it sometime after waking up around mid-afternoon. – Kallum Tanton Mar 18 at 14:42
  • To counter your pinch on germans: Germany has noise level laws demand to prevent obnoxious noise in the night hours (starts between 20-22 and ends about 06-07). German courts also defined "Room noise" as can be heard in neighboring rooms barely, which is about 40 dB(A) at night and 55 dB(A) at day. Cleaning utilities are bunched up under preventable noise and have to abide by this while, for example, the toilet or shower are not. – Trish Mar 18 at 16:46
  • @Trish What do you mean "pinch on Germans"? I meant no disrespect to Germans. I like them sufficiently well to have moved to their country. I was just drawing attention to a difference between the laws in DE and UK. (And I don't see how you "counter" my comment - you just confirm it, with better details.) – Martin Bonner Mar 19 at 23:40

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