Crash, bang, sigh: What can I do about noise? Residential Noise

With the coronavirus restrictions many people are now either working from home or at home much more than previously. One side effect has been that the noise from nearby construction sites and the neighbours home renovations has started driving some of us up the wall. What can you do? The answer is it depends if the noise if residential or from a construction site as there are different restrictions that apply. This post discusses residential noise sources.  My previous post deal with construction noise.

General residential noise restrictions are contained in the Protection of the Environmental Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2017. This Regulation sets out time restrictions when specific noises should not be able to be heard within a habitable room in a neighbour’s residence. Note that habitable rooms are generally any rooms other than a garage, storage area, bathroom, laundry, toilet or pantry. These restrictions are:

Noise sourceTime restriction
Power tools and equipment (this would include pool pumps, lawn mowers, leaf blowers, electric or pneumatic tools)Sundays & Public Holidays: not before 8am or after 8pm   Any other day: not before 7am or after 8pm
Music instruments and sound equipment (this includes TV’s, CD’s, DVD players, home theatre systems and other sources or music)Friday, Saturday & the day immediately before a Public Holiday: not before 8am or after midnight   Any other day: not before 8am or after 10pm
Air conditioners and heat pump water heatersWeekends and Public Holidays: not before 8am or after 10pm   Any other day: not before 7am or after 10pm
Cars and other motor vehicles (except when entering or leaving the property)Weekends & Public Holidays: not before 8am or after 8pm   Any other day: not before 7am or after 8pm

This Regulation also sets restrictions on other noises, for instance car alarms, depending on the car’s year of manufacture should be limited to between 45 – 90 seconds of continuous or intermittent noise unless the car was manufactured before 1 September 2009 and has been broken into, the windscreen or windows damaged or it has been involved in an accident.  A similar restriction with different time frames applies to building alarms.

The Regulation sets a system of notices and offences for people who breach these restrictions. The penalties are $200 for individuals and $400 for corporations with courts being able to impose a maximum penalty of $5,500 on individuals and $11,000 on corporations. To start this process complaints must be made to either your local council or to the police.

In strata and community title schemes it is also highly likely that there are noise restrictions in your scheme’s by-laws or management statements. Restraints in by-laws may be general or in the context of flooring or hard surface flooring. For instance, the Strata Schemes Management Regulations 2016schedule 2 model by-law 1 states:

“An owner or occupier of a lot must not create any noise on the parcel likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot or of any person lawfully using common property.”

Similarly, schedule 2, model by-law 14 relates to floor coverings and imposes a requirement that the majority of floors in a lot are sufficiently covered to reduce noise transmission that would disturb the peaceful enjoyment of an owner or occupier of another lot.

The fact that the scheme’s by-laws or management statements may restrict noise gives lot owners and occupants another means to take action. That may be through requesting the owners corporation issue notices to comply or the association to issue breach notices and these types of disputes may end up in the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).

This article contains general information only and it is not legal advice. Before you take any action you should seek legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

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