You are here

Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

All about the tools and techniques involved in capturing sound, in the studio or on location.

Moderator: Moderators

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.
techmonkey
Poster
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:00 pm

Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby ramthelinefeed » 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.
ramthelinefeed
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2624
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: UK
A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are tossed with!
 

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/
User avatar
Richie Royale
Jedi Poster
Posts: 4599
Joined: Mon Sep 11, 2006 11:00 pm
Location: Bristol, England.

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
necromunger
Regular
Posts: 387
Joined: Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:00 am

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!
techmonkey
Poster
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:00 pm

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.
techmonkey
Poster
Posts: 13
Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2012 11:00 pm

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.
grab
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2439
Joined: Sat Jul 07, 2007 11:00 pm
Location: Cambridge, UK
 

Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby ramthelinefeed » 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
ramthelinefeed
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2624
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: UK
A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are tossed with!
 

Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby ramthelinefeed » 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.
ramthelinefeed
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2624
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: UK
A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are tossed with!
 

Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby ramthelinefeed » 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...
ramthelinefeed
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2624
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: UK
A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are tossed with!
 

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
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 30095
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound
In my world, things get less strange when I read the manual... 

Re: Nuisance neighbour evidence..Need some recording advice

Postby ramthelinefeed » 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:
ramthelinefeed
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2624
Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2003 11:00 pm
Location: UK
A weasel hath not such a deal of spleen as you are tossed with!
 

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.
User avatar
ken long
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3399
Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:00 am
Location: Somers Town
I'm All Ears.

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.
narcoman
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 3439
Joined: Mon Aug 13, 2001 11:00 pm
Battenburg to the power of 20 - said by Richie Royale in a moment of genius. 4pm. Wed 16th Nov 2011. Remember where you were....

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.
User avatar
nathanscribe
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1244
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 12:00 am
Location: Wakefield, for my sins.
I have no idea what I'm doing.

Next