How to Complain About Noise to the Owner’s Corporation

February 14th, 2016

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Living as part of a strata building, you’re likely to run into some glitches with your neighbours from time to time. You may well have the loveliest group of people living in your building, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be getting on your nerves from time to time! So when do you just let things slide, and when is it time to take complaints to your owner’s corporation?

Noisy neighbours

With common walls, windows in close proximity, and shared hallways, there’s no wonder that strata living can be considered less than peaceful at times. Noise travels, and sometimes it can even travel through walls, pipes, and ceilings. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night, there may occasionally be an excess amount of noise that you can’t deal with.

In fact, noise is the most common complaint made by people living under the same roof. It’s linked to sleep deprivation, stress, and health issues like hypertension; but remember, what you think is unbearable your neighbour may consider reasonable. What you find excessively loud may just be your neighbour watching TV or their younger children having a fit. The walls may simply just be thin enough for the noise to travel. While regulations in Australia dictate rules for appropriate apartment building construction, this sometimes isn’t enough for those with supersonic hearing.

It can also be common to hear noise from above aparments due to hardwood floors. When people install new floorboards or tiles, they’re likely out looking for the most financially savvy option, which may sometimes mean poor installation, which means noise travels downwards. There should be regulations in the building’s by-laws about the amount of insulation and padding that must be laid before the floorboards or tiles.

Regardless, it’s important to remember that sometimes the noises you’ll hear from neighbours are simply due to the building itself. Every property has its nooks and crannies, and every property will have noises as well. Whether it be the lift moving up and down, water moving through the pipes, or just some unexplainable moans and groans, some noises you just can’t explain or complain about.

It’s also important to remember that sometimes the noises are not coming from the people in the same building, but could be travelling from neighbouring buildings, roads, air conditioning units, or machinery, so make sure to investigate exactly where the noise is coming from before complaining to the body corporate.

How to make it stop

If you simply cannot stand the noise any longer, the first step you should take is to always try and resolve the issue peacefully and honestly. Communicate directly with your neighbour and approach the situation with a positive and friendly attitude. If you go in with a negative and defensive disposition, you’re probably much less likely to get things resolved.

More often than not, your neighbour may be completely unaware that they are even disturbing anyone around them. People are often not even aware that others can hear them. When you discuss the issue with your neighbour, it always helps to go prepared with the necessary information such as:

  • What do you think the noise is coming from? (e.g. a baby crying, banging sounds, etc.)
  • What time does the noise generally happen?
  • How is the noise disturbance having an effect on you?

It’s also a good idea to take along some suggestions or solutions. If it’s noise from power tools that’s keeping you awake, for example, perhaps you can ask your neighbour to work on weekends rather than early in the morning or late at night.

If talking to your neighbour doesn’t work out favourably, you’ll need to consider talking to your owner’s corporation. It’s possible that other people in the building are also affected by the noise, yet haven’t brought it to anyone’s attention.

If the noise is coming from common property such as pipes or faulty electrical cables, inform your owner’s corporation straight away. Explain the problem using as much detail as possible so that the committee member has everything they need to take the issue to your strata manager. It may just be a case of lack of servicing, or the building needs new cables. If the owner’s corporation doesn’t know about the issue, they can’t fix it.? The strata scheme can then issue breach notices, fines and if required take the owner to a tribunal.

Know the regulations

If talking to your body corporation doesn’t work, you may need to go one step further.

Every neighbourhood has different noise restrictions, so it’s important to check with your local council about any rules around parties, power tools, or loud music. While music can be a lovely addition to an afternoon, played at 11pm on a school or work night is not ideal.

  • Loud music

In Victoria, loud music must not be played between 10pm and 7am on Monday-Thursdays, and Sundays. On Fridays, the curfew is extended to an 11pm finish and cannot be played until 9am on Saturday morning.

In South Australia, noise complaints are subjectively reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but it is understood that music should not be louder than that of background noise.

  • Pets

When it comes to a yapping pet, complaints in Victoria must be directed to the local council, and the owner may be fined. In South Australia, complaints should go to the local council Animal Management Office.

  • Power tools

In Victoria, power tools cannot be used before 7am and after 8pm during Monday to Friday. On weekends, tools cannot be used until after 9am. In South Australia, power tools can only be used between 8am and 8pm everyday. On Sunday, it’s 9am until 8pm.

  • Vehicles

In Victoria, vehicles must remain quiet before 7am and after 8pm, unless it is entering or leaving the premises. On weekends, this changes to before 9am and after 8pm. In South Australia, the police subjectively review excessive noise.