One of the most common complaints received in strata schemes is to do with unwelcome noise, which can be understandable when living in close proximity. Noise has a knack for traveling through floors, ceilings, walls and across balconies. It is only to be expected that on occasion you will hear some noise from your neighbours, pets, and often during building repairs. However, if the noise is excessive and consistent then you can rest assured that there are efficient ways to tackle the problem. The trick is to know who to contact to effectively address the type of noise problem you are experiencing.
There are many different noise regulations and protections for residents with varying avenues to seek compliance depending on the regulator in place. Below is a list of the most common noise complaints and who commonly takes responsibility for enforcement:
A complaint commonly caused by noise emanating from newly installed hard flooring that may not be meeting by-law requirements (if there are any). Unless proper acoustic insulation is laid, some hard flooring can cause disturbances to the neighbours living below through everyday noises like walking around in heels, scraping of furniture, children running around or loud music. If you are experiencing an increase in noise due to newly installed hard flooring, check your by-laws and contact your Body Corporate to verify the by-law standards in place, if approval has been granted and by-law enforcement options.
Neighbourhood disturbances and recreational noise such as loud parties or gatherings is typically the responsibility of the local police if an immediate response if needed. The Police are able to assist with neighbourhood noise that occurs late at night such as out of control parties. If a noise incident needs to be reported, you should keep detailed records of the events including: location, time, date and descriptions of people involved. This information can then be provided to the police so the source of the noise can be investigated. These details can also be provided to the Body Corporate to investigate by-law breaches if the disturbance was occurring from within the scheme land or units.
If the noise is coming from your neighbours, the first step is to contact them personally and politely advise them of the issue letting them know how it is affecting you. Often neighbours are unaware that their activities may be causing problems for other residents so it is important to work together to discuss reasonable solutions that can resolve the situation. Should a noise complaint persist beyond your initial approach, then your Body Corporate may consider noise by-law enforcement that places the resident ‘on notice’. Further breaches of noise by-laws may result in enforcement action that can lead to fines by a magistrate if found to be in breach. If your building has a Resident Manager, they may also be able to assist with noise complaints if the noise is originating from one of the units in their letting pool. The Resident Manager acting as the letting agent may enforce the terms of the letting agreement which can ultimately lead to eviction if not remedied.
It is important to remember that there will almost always be a by-law that regulates the noise levels of residents and this by-law applies equally to all residents invited guests.
Common Property Noise
Noises emanating from common property such as mechanical ventilation, intercom buzzing, air-conditioning plant and cooling towers need to be passed on to your Body Corporate or Resident Manager if you have one as soon as possible. It is important to provide details about where the noise is coming from so that maintenance records can be checked and a relevant service provider arranged to attend to determine if any systems may have become faulty.
In summary there are a variety of sources of noise that can affect an owners peaceful enjoyment and there are equally as many ways of addressing them.
This article was contributed by Tim Burns, Senior Strata Manager – Archers the Strata Professionals