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Noisy neighbours in Spain. How to file an official complain.

To file an official complain about noise you must provide evidence and there must be proof of having notified the Police and sent a letter to the City Council to warn of the inconvenience.

Noisy parties at 3.00am in the morning, karaoke from the bar downstairs, or just a loud TV, after hours. Can be unbearable and very annoying! When this happens, what can be done? How to claim? If you have problems due to noise, you should try to solve it in a friendly way of course and, if it does not work, discuss the conflict in a community of owners' meeting and let the community defend you or denounce the neighbor. Noise complaints need you to provide evidence and that there is evidence of having notified the Police and sent a letter to the City Council to warn of the inconvenience, among other actions that we detail below.

 

Can I file an official complain in the police for noise?

For years, Spain has been considered the loudest country in the European Union by far, as reflected in the world list of noisy cities prepared by the World Health Organization (WHO). Traffic, workshops, cafeterias or construction sites are the main responsible for the noise in the street. But the noise can also be in your building, if you have annoying neighbors. In this case, the situation is even worse and can become unbearable, because sometimes it is not possible to concentrate, rest or relax.

However, not all noise is reportable. The key to knowing if it can be reported is whether the discomfort that is caused is admissible within the normal tolerance socially accepted by anyone, either due to the intensity or the amount of noise. Thus, if the neighbor's electric guitar does not let you sleep or if you live above a non-soundproofed party room, you can report the cause of the noise.

 

How to do it?

Can a single neighbor report or is it necessary for the community of owners to do so as a whole? Both possibilities are allowed. What is desirable, is the following:

• Bring it to direct and immediate knowledge of the pollutant. That is, explain to the neighbor that his noises bother you.

• If he does not react, you must communicate it to the community of owners so that the conflict can be discussed in a meeting. "And, if it is not solved, let the community defend you on your name. If they don't want to get involved, it can and should be sued by yourself, whether it be a single injured party or a group of affected neighbors,

• If a prompt solution is not obtained, a claim must be filed in court.

 

How to file an official complain (Denuncia) step-by-step.

 

Try the friendly way

It is always desirable to have a chat with the neighbor who makes the noises, indicating the discomfort that he causes. On many occasions, the noisy neighbor is not aware of the facts and, when they are pointed out to him, he changes his behavior and the problem ends without major problem.

 Accumulate evidence

In all cases, evidence is essential at trial. Therefore, before suing, you must have tried to go to more immediate solutions:

• Call the municipal police when disturbances are occurring, they are there to help. Normally they will bring a sound meter and issue a certificate with the Decibels level of noise, that can be very useful for you later..

Hold community meetings.

Submit a letter to the City Council.

Request the intervention of the building administrator.

Send written complaints (burofax) to those who disturb.

In the event that it reaches the courts, you must have the corresponding evidence and you will also have to study the municipal regulations to know what noise level and at what time it is allowed.

Report to the local police

As mentioned, it is of great interest to call the Municipal Police to measure the noise. It is important to do it at different times and thus have several reports. If it is an extreme case, you can turn to companies specialized in noise measurement to do a study.

How to go via judicial means.

There are a number of ways to go, and sometimes you can even receive compensation for noise damage.

The local authority way. It is the complaint filed in writing to the City Council stating the cause of the noise, the hours in which it occurs. In certain cases, urgent measures can be requested, such as the immediate cessation of the activity, and a decree of the mayor will establish the corrective measures and the execution period. If it is an emergency, the complaint can be made to the municipal police. In case of inactivity of the Consistory, the individual may go to the contentious-administrative route.

Contentious-administrative route. You can report the inactivity of the local authority or its illegal action, claim compensation for the consequences of its actions or omissions.

Civil judicial means, against the cause of the noise. It is an ordinary lawsuit claiming damages due to fault or negligence. If the cause of the noise is a tenant, the owner of the apartment can terminate the lease; if he is the owner, the community can initiate a judicial procedure to obtain the cessation of the activity. In extreme cases, the person causing the problem may be temporarily deprived of the right to use the home.

Criminal judicial route. If noise is a source of serious health risk, a complaint or complaint must be filed with the court. It is convenient to have witnesses and medical certificates stating the possible effect of noise on health. The sentence for the author of the noise can be between two and four years in prison, disqualification from exercising the office and closing the noisy premises. In addition, you can claim compensation for damages.

 

Necessary requirements and documentation

Most city councils have noise complaint models, including Alicante, which has a website to process a complaint for external or internal noise. Please note that It should be borne in mind that these complaints can be made against a premises, a noisy establishment. Complaints for nuisance between neighbors must be made directly to the Municipal Police at the time of occurrence.

In all cases, you must provide:

• Name, address and telephone number of the complainant.

• Details of who emits the noise.

• State the facts.

• It is important to have witnesses.

• Provide an acoustic expertise report or police report.

• In case of suffering an ailment caused by noise, include a medical certificate in the complaint. How noise affects the heart

If you intend to file a judicial complaint, in addition to having evidence, witnesses, etc., it is advisable to have the services of a lawyer.

 

Legal regulations on noise in communities of owners.

The municipal regulations are the document where it states what level of noise can be made in a building and what hours, as it is a municipal competence. Although there may be differences between local authorities and provincial authorities, in reality they are similar and, for the most part, the noise allowed are:

• From Monday to Friday: from 8:00 or 9:00 to 21:00 or 22:00.

• Holidays and weekends: during fewer hours, generally from 9:30 am or 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.

And the level of noise is 60DB during the day and 30dB during the night.

You can check the exact time of your locality at the town hall or ask the president of the community of owners (in many buildings, the regulations are indicated on the notice board). Sometimes the community of owners decides a specific time, but although it is advisable to respect the rules agreed between all the residents it is not mandatory, but rather governs the hours established by the town hall.

 

When the noise is from the building, what can we do?

Sometimes the noise problem is not caused by a neighbor, but comes from the property itself, from its construction (noisy elevator, pipes that sound too loud, etc.).

What to do in this case?

The Building Planning Law provides for a period of between one to three years from the delivery of the house to be able to claim the building's construction agents: builder, developer, architect and surveyor. Civil legislation also protects the rights of the buyer against construction defects. It is important to act as soon as possible by making formal complaints to record problems and deadlines.

 

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Al ser imposible conocer en profundidad cada caso, todos los consejos y contestaciones a la preguntas realizadas en este blog, los consejos dados son propiciado en términos generales por lo que se deberá contrastar con el asesoramiento privado de un abogado  y/o un arquitecto para estudiar en profundidad su caso.

As it is impossible to know in detail every case asked in this blog all our replies are given in good faith but we strongly suggest that you obtain private advice from a solicitor /and /or  architect who will be able to study in depth your own particular case.