We like to think of our own homes as private, but you could be committing a crime and face being landed with a hefty fine simply by crying in your house, due to strict council rules.
The rules were introduced by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary in 2014, and can see anyone over the age of 16 be landed with a fine of up £2,500 for making too much noise.
Disruptive to neighbours
The strict rules fall under the 2014 Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act, and mean you could be issued with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) if you make too much noise in your own home.
Community Protection Notices are issued by local councils to prevent residents from causing disruption to their neighbours' everyday life.
If you do anything that is considered to be disruptive, such as crying loudly, arguing, moving furniture, or banging on walls, your local council could issue a notice which bans you from continuing.
A Freedom of Information request submitted by The Sun found that in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, residents are forbidden from crying, arguing or banding loudly in their home.
Findings revealed one resident was issued with a notice to not "create any wailing, jabbering, crying and hammering on the wall type noises", following a complaint by a neighbour.
It said that the noises should not be "capable of being heard outside of any property that [the neighbour] may reside at any time of the day and night".
The penalty for breaching a CPN is a £100 fine on the spot, rising to a maximum of £2,500 if you dispute the order and are prosecuted in court.
If businesses fail to comply, they can be fined up to a hefty £20,000.
When can a Community Protection Notice be given?
A CPN can be issued by local authorities, the police (including police community support officers), and private registered providers of social housing, charitable housing trusts, or housing action trusts that have been designated by a local authority in an area.
A CPN can be given when a person's behaviour is:
- having a "detrimental effect" on the quality of life of those in the locality
- persistent or continuing in nature
There is no restriction on the type of behaviour a CPN can deal with, meaning it can also deal with noise nuisance, rubbish in gardens and littering.
The issuing body should give a written warning beforehand, warning that if the antisocial behaviour continues then a CPN will be given.
The amount of time allowed between the written warning and the issuing of the CPN is determined on a case-by-case basis. In some instances this could be in minutes, such as when a person is playing loud music in a public space.
Can a Community Protection Notice be appealed?
You can appeal a Community Protection Notice to a magistrates' court, but you must comply with it in the interim if you are told to stop doing something.
The following can be included as grounds for appeal:
- the issue being complained about didn't happen
- the issue does not affect the quality of life of local people
- the issue is not persistent or continuing in nature
- the issue is not unreasonable
- the issue is not something you can reasonably be expected to control
The notice can also be appealed if the requirements, or the period it covers, are unreasonable, or if there is a material defect or error in it.
Appeals must be made within 21 days of the notice being issued and courts have the power to either cancel the notice, change it, or dismiss your appeal.