Problems with noise in Spain

Life in Spain Thursday, March 2, 2017
Problems with noise in Spain

Noisy neighbours, barking dogs, bars and restaurants playing music to the early hours. We’re often asked what can be done about noise in Spain. In this article Marina Lorente from our legal department looks at the issue and the possible actions that can be taken.

Spain is not renowned for being the most restrained of countries when it comes to making a noise. Fire crackers, fireworks and other big bangs are a feature of every fiesta and times in between too.

The warm weather means that much evening activity takes place outside and with this comes the noise of chatting, eating, drinking and scraping chairs.  Of course, this is also part of the attraction of the country. Most people would describe Spain as being ‘vibrant’. Such a label brings its own threat of noise by definition.

However there are times when the noise becomes too much. For those living above a bar, the constant thump of music can take its toll. This is perhaps particularly the case during the summer when the volume is up, the nights are longer but people still have work to do.

The incessant barking of dogs left alone during the day and the whine of drills and tile cutters can send the most mild-mannered to the edge of distraction. Problems with noise top the list of complaints we receive in our forums and Spain Explained. So what can you do?

1.  Try talking

It can seem a little obvious but sometimes people are simply unaware of just how noisy their lifestyle is. People who are out during the day don’t hear their dog barking and late at night sound can travel more for those trying to get to sleep. It’s always best to approach the perpetrator first and in a friendly manner.

Seek solutions. If it’s building work, for example, can they avoid using tile cutters during those times most disturbing for you? Most builders will be prepared to accommodate a little for a siesta, for example. Avoid ‘giving as good as you get’ tactics. These rarely work and are more likely to lead to a long and bitter tit for tat that sees no one satisfied in the end.

2. Community of owners

If you belong to a community of owners then this can be another option for you if your first attempts at negotiation don’t work. Many people owning a property in Spain become a member of the community of owners as soon as they purchase their property.

There will be a President who is a property owner and an administrator who is employed by the community to oversee its running. If you are having a problem with noise it can be a good idea to bring this to the attention of the President. It might be that others are having similar difficulties and the issue can be raised on your behalf. 

3. Taking it further

If you’ve tried these options but problems are still continuing then there may be more formal actions that could be taken. Noise regulations are generally ruled by the ‘comunidad autónoma’ and are then further developed by each town hall.

Noise pollution in Spain is called ‘contaminación acústica’ and in Valencia, for example, the law that applies is the Law 7/2002, 3 de diciembre de Protección contra la contaminación acústica.

Different levels of sound are allowed depending on the time/ hour of the day and the kind of activity or work involved. You can check on what the law is in your town and from there, if your neighbour is breaking the law then you can make a denuncia.

4. Making a denuncia

Making a denuncia involves a trip to your nearest Guardia Civil station. You will need to go equipped with a translator, if you are not fluent in Spanish and with your passport and residency certificate or NIE.

Prepare for your visit carefully ensuring that you have logged exactly what the problem is and when it occurs. The more evidence you have the better. Make sure you have some basic information about the person you are making the denuncia against. You should be able to give the police:

  • Addresses
  • Names and surnames
  • The date and time of events
  • The names and details of any witnesses

Following your report you can expect the police to make a visit and check out the allegations you have made. They are the people in the best position to ascertain if there are any breaches of the law and if so, what can be done about it.

It is also possible to call out the police if you are experiencing significant problems with noise as it is happening. They will come and check what the situation is and take the relevant action.

Dealing with noisy neighbours can be frustrating. Keep your head, make sure you use the official channels and don’t let them spoil your time in Spain.

Do you have any questions?

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What action can be taken against Owners who have dogs and leave them in the house alone howling and whining.

Hi Melvyn

If you have a reasonable relationships with the owners then you could try raising it directly with them. They might not be aware of the disturbance it causes to others when they're out. If you are part of a community of owners you could try raising the issue with your president. If you suspect that it is a case of animal cruelty then you could try reporting it to the police by making a denuncia against the owners.

Is there much recourse for noise in the day? Our neighbours have a macaw (or some other such bird) and for about an hour a day (usually in the mornings) minimum it squawks. My phone tells me its about 100db.

It's in their front garden so i can hear it throughout my house ( i work from home as well, so i have to go into the back room to make skype calls). Honestly it sounds like a car alarm.

We did have words and they stopped leaving it uncovered on sunday mornings.

Honestly, it's driving me crazy

Hi Ewan

I would suggest that you approach your community president, if you have one, first. Alternatively if you have explored all other options then you could try making a denuncia and the police will judge whether it is something that is covered by local laws. 

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