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How to Manage Noise in Strata Living

One of the most common complaints received in strata management is to do with noise. It’s understandable that in close proximity living, noise has a knack for traveling through ceilings, walls and across balconies. It is only to be expected that you will sometimes hear some noise from your neighbours, pets, and construction or building repairs. However, if the noise is excessive and consistent then you can rest assured that there are efficient ways to solve the problem. The trick is to know who to contact in regards to the type of noise complaint you are experiencing.

There are many different noise regulations and protections for residents but no single government authority in Australia for monitoring or reducing noise pollution. Below is a list of the most common noise complaints and who takes responsibility for them:

Flooring

A commonly received complaint in residential living is caused by noise experienced from newly installed hard flooring that may not be meeting by-law requirements. Unless proper acoustic insulation is laid, some hard flooring can cause disturbances to the neighbours living below because they are able to hear everyday noises such as walking around in heels, scraping of furniture, children running or loud music. If you are experiencing an increase in noise due to newly installed hard flooring, check your by-laws and contact your committee or strata manager to verify if approval was given.

Neighbourhood Noise

Neighbourhood and recreational noise is typically the responsibility of the local police. Police are able to assist with neighbourhood noise that occurs late at night such as out of control parties or unruly youths. If a noise incident needs to be reported, you should keep detailed records of the events including: location, time, date and descriptions of those involed. This information can then be provided to the police so the source of the noise can be further investigated.

Neighbours

If the noise is coming from your neighbours, the first step is to politely and directly address them about it. Often neighbours are unaware that their activities may be causing problems for other tenants. It is important to work together to discuss reasonable solutions in combatting the noise. Should a noise complaint persist beyond your initial approach, then your strata committee may consider issue of a Breach Notice that places the resident ‘on notice’ that further breaches may result in action. If your complex has a resident manager, they may also be able to assist with noise complaints if the noise is coming from one of the units in their letting pool.

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 their invited guests.

Common Property Noise

Noises that comes from common property such as mechanical ventilation, intercom buzzing, the central air-conditioning plant and cooling tower need to be passed on to your resident manager or strata manager as soon as possible. It is important to provide details about where the noise is coming from in order for them to check that maintenance records have been kept up-to-date and whether any systems may have become faulty. If so, committee members can decide to have areas reviewed or repaired by a tradesperson or compliance officer.

This article was contributed by Strata Community Manager Stephen McCulloch. Stephen has a strong legal background in Litigation, Commercial Law, Property and Body Corporate Law and brings a wealth of knowledge to the Archers team.

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