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Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

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Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby techmonkey » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:42 pm

Hi all,

I have a nuisance neighbour in the flat directly below mine who plays loud bass music all day and I need a way to record it so it picks up clearly for evidence purposes as I'm planning to take legal action.

I have tried recording using a variety of cameras, both with the internal mics and using external mics but none of them seem to be up to the job as the bass noise/music does not pick up.

The type of bass is a booming thud thud thud type, from dance music and although you can't hear the music from my flat, you can certain hear the bass. If I stand outside the door of the neighbours flat I can hear the music and pounding bass very clear but again, it's hard to record clearly on my cameras.

I'm wondering if anyone can recommend some equipment or a certain type of mic I should buy to record this type of noise?

I have an old Aiwa MD recorder which has a mic sensitivity switch and adjustable digital mic input control setting on the screen which I could try using perhaps with a decent external mic? I also have been looking at those pocket digital "dictaphone" recorders, not sure if they would be up to the job.

If there is any professional equipment which is not massively expensive (my budget will run to £200 or so) which can record noise levels and vibration on floor etc, that would be even better.

I'd appreciate any advice!


Paul

Note: I have been through the usual Council complaint procedure had their "black box" recording equipment which you are only allowed to keep for 3 weeks. As it turned out, it was a locked briefcase containing a Sony Minidisc recorder with the standard wired remote control/mic outside the briefcase. This is what the Council uses for court evidence.
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby feline1 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:00 pm

You don't say where you are based,
but here in Brighton, one phones up the Environmental Health 'Noise Patrol' people at Brighton & Hove City Council, and they send round two slightly frazzled put-upon public sector types with a clip board, who personally stand in your living room and assess the nuisance-factor of the noise with their ears.
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby Richie Royale » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:01 pm

Have you spoken to your neighbour about the problem?

If that fails then contact your local Environmental Health team (if you are in the UK) to see if they can help. They should come out and check the noise level with an SPL meter.

Might be worth having a look on this site

http://www.noisyneighbours.net/
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby necromunger » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:04 pm

you can get a cheap db meter to see how loud it is but just ring the council and they will send someone out with the right equipment as by law it has to be calibrated to be used in court and those meters costs 2-3k.

have you spoken to them about it or are they the f u about it.?

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0015NSTLI/ref=asc_df_B0015NSTLI7156790?smid=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&tag=googlecouk06-21&linkCode=asn&creative=22206&creativeASIN=B0015NSTLI
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby techmonkey » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:06 pm

Thanks for the replies guys.. I should have provided a bit more info I guess and just added on the PS as an after thought! To give some more background... this problem has been going on for like 5 years and the Council and Environmental Health have been lets say, less than helpful over this time. Even the police wouldn't do anything.

The neighbour really is the "neighbours from hell" and are totally unapproachable..they basically shout "f off" if you knock and turn the volume up.

So what I'm doing now on the advice of my solicitor is seeking a County Court injunction against the Council, as it's easier than going after the tenant in the Magistrate Court apparently. But I need a water-tight case with good evidence..hence I need some good recordings.

My solicitor actually warned the Council we would take them to court and so now the Council is requesting to look at my evidence. I have a diary log going back 5 years, camera recordings, photos etc, but nothing good on the audio side.. hence why I'm here!
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby techmonkey » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:21 pm


This is rather complicated..EVH's definition of what is a noise nuisance, and mine, are lets say, somewhat different!

EVH naturally goes by the legal definition but they also have all these ridiculous procedural restrictions on how long they can record for, when the noise occurs, needing two witnesses and not being able to witness out of office hours etc etc. In short, their procedures and restrictions means the tenant is able to cause a nuisance and get away with it and EVH don't consider it a "statutory nuisance".

I actually had a noise abatement notice issued against the tenant by EVH quite early on in this complaint, which the tenant subsequently breached. EVH were unable to witness a breach due to their restrictions and so the tenant got away with it. And because the tenant was not living in the flat for a long time, and kept spending odd days there, EVH have maintained that it's no longer a statutory breach.

My solicitor takes a different view and thinks the Council have legal responsibilities that go beyond the Environmental Health Act and that the Council and EVH have not done enough and aren't carrying out their legal duties.. in the last 5 years EVH have only visited the tenant a handful of times (and on only 3 of those have actually spoken to the tenant). Despite dozens and dozens of complaints.

In short, my solicitor thinks with the amount of evidence I have over the last 5 years, we have a good case for compensation and a Court injunction forcing the Council to act against the tenant, but good audio recordings of the noise would make for an iron-clad case.
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby grab » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:25 pm

Worth getting a cheap sound meter - they'll only cost £10-20. ("A-weighting" is the type you want, I believe.) Recording will only give you what the noise sounds like, not particularly how loud it is, so this will give you some nicely formal numbers to put in your noise diary.
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby feline1 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:48 pm

Another solution, featured in the BBC documentary 'The Day Today', is simply to go round to your neighbour's flat, smash in the door and unleash a TIGER.

I do sympathise re: the public sector loonery of your local Council.

B&HCC's binmen used to wake me up at 6am every morning. Which more or less contravenes the law (which basically says they should wait until 7am to wake me up ;)
Their Environmental Health people agreed, but said they couldn't do anything because "we can't take ourselves to court" :headbang:
Narrowly avoiding facepalming myself unconscious, I suggested to them that they shouldn't NEED to take themselves to court, if they just STOPPED BLOODY DOING IT, being, as they were, well aware of their own breaking of the law.
But that didn't work, so I just moved house instead.

BEST STORY EVER. :D
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby feline1 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:51 pm

I am pretty surprised, though, that your local council's Environmental Health people cannot witness breaches "outside office hours" - not least because one of the typical rules of legal thumb for whether noise constitutes a "statutory nuisance" is that it is occuring between 11pm and 7am...! How can they ascertain this if they only work 9 to 5!?

Brighton's lot will come round as late as 3am at the weekends.

This suggests to me another route: your council will have a formal Complaints procedure. If you follow that, and don't achieve satisfaction, you can take the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman. This would be a damn sight cheaper that taking the council to court.
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby feline1 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:52 pm

PS I am also slightly perturbed that your solicitor was not aware of the Local Government Ombudsman. But then I dare say they'd prefer you to pay them to take the matter to court instead...
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:56 pm

Most of the noise that upsets you will be low frequency noise, and that is quite hard to capture with typical consumer recorders because they usually automatically filter the very low freqencies to provide a better, rumble-free recording quality!

To record it effectively you'll need a boundary or pressure zone mic -- or a contact mic -- fixed to the ceiling (or maybe a wall), and recorded with something that has a flat resposne down to 10Hz or so.

There's lots of things that would do a reasonable job... but specific advice will depend on your budget.

Hugh
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby feline1 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:59 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Most of the noise that upsets you will be low frequency noise, and that is quite hard to capture with typical consumer recorders because they usually automatically filter the very low freqencies to provide a better, rumble-free recording quality!

To record it effectively you'll need a boundary or pressure zone mic -- or a contact mic -- fixed to the ceiling (or maybe a wall), and recorded with something that has a flat resposne down to 10Hz or so.

This is an excellent point - but conversely, will the court have a PA rig with bass bins and subwoofers capable of reproducing sound down to 10Hz ? :round1:
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby ken long » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:02 pm

^ they don't need to listen to it. figures should suffice.
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby narcoman » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:21 pm

You live in a flat?

then the properties will be owned under leasehold. Contact the the owners of the lease or the maintenance company. It will be in breach of the terms of the lease and will affect thew mortgage on the property. If the neighbour is a leaseholder his mortgage may be in jeopardy under such a breach OR if he is a tenant his landlords mortgage will be.

Either way - contact the maintenance company or his landlord if he is a tenant.
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby nathanscribe » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:23 pm

feline1 wrote:I am pretty surprised, though, that your local council's Environmental Health people cannot witness breaches "outside office hours" - not least because one of the typical rules of legal thumb for whether noise constitutes a "statutory nuisance" is that it is occuring between 11pm and 7am...! How can they ascertain this if they only work 9 to 5!?

Brighton's lot will come round as late as 3am at the weekends.


Councils. Enough said. I went through the complaints procedure when I lived on a narrow alley with a pub opposite the flat (it had been a cafe at first) that the landlord used for personal and very loud parties after hours at random times of week until stupid o'clock in the morning. Of course, the one time the council team came round (only worked weekends till 9 or something), nobody was in and you could have heard a pigeon fart.

I kept logs, sent them, phoned back, complained again, nothing ever happened. And the police are too busy with proper crime to do anything about stupid crap like noise, unless one turns it into something by going round with a dustbin full of what comes out of the dog and pours it through their letterbox, etc.

Anyhow, I am amazed that for 5 years the OP is still living there. I'd have moved by now if there was any way at all of doing so. My utter and absolute sympathies if not.
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby techmonkey » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:26 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:Most of the noise that upsets you will be low frequency noise, and that is quite hard to capture with typical consumer recorders because they usually automatically filter the very low freqencies to provide a better, rumble-free recording quality!

To record it effectively you'll need a boundary or pressure zone mic -- or a contact mic -- fixed to the ceiling (or maybe a wall), and recorded with something that has a flat resposne down to 10Hz or so.

There's lots of things that would do a reasonable job... but specific advice will depend on your budget.

Hugh

You absolutely right..sometimes the bass is so loud that it literally vibrates on my floor under foot, on my windows, and even on the arms of my wooden chair! It's very irritating as you can imagine never to have any peace or quiet. I get headaches from it and stressed out. If I bang on the floor she will turn it down but then it goes back up again the next day.

So I've been thinking along the lines you suggested, rather than recording the actual noise, I need some way just to record the frequency and vibration. grab suggested a meter, so that is something I will look into it. If I can get it calibrated and stamped by the supplier and film it, that might just do the trick!
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby feline1 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:36 pm

perhaps a seismograph?

Do you have a university with a geology dept nearby? Perhaps you could get some students to come and take measurements in your flat, and get it on the local news (particularly if you could somehow incorporate a roller-skating duck).
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby feline1 » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:36 pm

May we ask which local council it is?
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby techmonkey » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:38 pm

feline1 wrote:Another solution, featured in the BBC documentary 'The Day Today', is simply to go round to your neighbour's flat, smash in the door and unleash a TIGER.

I do sympathise re: the public sector loonery of your local Council.

B&HCC's binmen used to wake me up at 6am every morning. Which more or less contravenes the law (which basically says they should wait until 7am to wake me up ;)
Their Environmental Health people agreed, but said they couldn't do anything because "we can't take ourselves to court" :headbang:
Narrowly avoiding facepalming myself unconscious, I suggested to them that they shouldn't NEED to take themselves to court, if they just STOPPED BLOODY DOING IT, being, as they were, well aware of their own breaking of the law.
But that didn't work, so I just moved house instead.

BEST STORY EVER. :D

Oh so true, they are utter idiots! You know the worse thing is.. this tenant has breached half a dozen of the tenancy agreement conditions (drugs on premises, sub-letting/multiple friends living there, dog in the flat on 2nd floor, anti-social behaviour, drunken fights with her bf every weekend and often during the week that go on for hours and hours 11pm onwards! Like I said, neighbours from hell. She doesn't work and just sits in the flat smoking cannabis playing loud music all day. There's nothing wrong with her as I can tell apart from being bone idle and morbidly obese. It's so annoying when I'm trying to work and earn a living upstairs, while studying for a degree with the OU.

Here's how stupid the Council are.. I tipped them off the tenant was probably claiming full housing benefits and not living at the flat and was only visiting it for maybe 2 hours once a month last year (this continued for 2 years) and even offered them CCTV evidence.. they called and got no answer.. so wrote asking her to contact council within 14 days and she didn't as she wasn't there..so they served a "notice to vacate" with a deadline.. the deadline past and she contacted them with some excuse..so they canceled it and let her stay!! This despite all the dozens of complaints and breaches of the tenancy I mentioned. Perfect chance to get rid of her and save themselves a fortune in housing benefit claimed on an empty flat.

When I mentioned I had CCTV and was gathering evidence for a legal action against them (the Council) they tried to take legal action against ME to stop me using CCTV! I used a Freedom of Information Request to get all my case notes and their internal communications...they fought hard to deny it but my solicitor persuaded them to comply. I was shocked to see them discussing me with their legal department, to see if they could stop me using CCTV and whether I might be harassing the tenant!
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Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby techmonkey » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:40 pm

feline1 wrote:May we ask which local council it is?

Redditch Borough Council
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