Taking serious steps to deal with noisy neighbours in your strata property
While apartment living is a shared living space, noisy neighbours can be less considerate than others. If your issue is ongoing – you’ve already tried to have a friendly conversation and taken the informal steps, then here are steps to deal with noisy neighbours
Here’s two key topics we cover in dealing with noisy neighbours in strata through more serious steps:
- PICA Group’s top five tips on what to do when dealing with noise in a strata property
- Beyond strata, alternative channels to deal with noisy neighbours
PICA Group’s top five serious steps to deal with noisy neighbours in a strata property:
- Start with a friendly, honest conversation
In the first instance, try to have a friendly, honest conversation as the first step in dispute resolution. You may wish to communicate with the neighbour personally, and then preferably in writing, as this may be needed as evidence of self-resolution later.
Let your neighbour know that the noise levels are disturbing your enjoyment of your property. Sometimes they may just not be aware how sound can travel, or they may not be aware of the by-laws or rules of the scheme.
The benefits of self-resolution could assist with stopping the issue from getting more serious. It’s also faster and cheaper and could lead to a better relationship with your neighbour, which in turn should stop further disputes.
- Address the matter formally if your noisy neighbour doesn’t cooperate
If the friendly approach fails and your neighbour is not willing to adjust their noise levels, the next steps is to take the matter to the strata committee.
Approach the committee to write to the owner and mediate on your behalf. Your strata manager can also help you with the matter. Your letter should include dates and times of the noise.
If other owners or occupiers are also concerned you could consider making a joint complaint or sending your complaints at the same time.
- Issue a “Notice to Comply with a By-Law”
The strata committee may raise your complaint with your neighbour. If this does not fix the problem and they think that your neighbour is in breach of the by-laws or building rules, they may issue a “Notice to Comply with a By-Law”.
The notice will inform them of which by-law they have breached, explain how they have breached the by-law, and warn them that if they continue to breach the by-law or rule, they may apply to the relevant state governing body (NCAT, QCAT, VCAT) to seek an order.
- Go to mediation
If peaceful talks with your neighbour and a “Notice to Comply with a By-Law” has not worked, an owner or the strata committee can also make use of a specialised mediation services that are available from your relevant state governing body (NCAT, QCAT, VCAT).
- Adjudication – specific ways to deal with noisy neighbours in your state:
If all the above steps have failed, a noise abatement orders can be applied for from your relevant state governing body (NCAT, QCAT, VCAT). If breaches of these orders continue to occur, fines can be imposed. If the problem continues and there is a second breach within 12 months, the strata committee can apply to the state governing body for orders including that your neighbour pay a fine to the owners corporation.
In New South Wales
If the strata committee does not act, any owner may apply to NCAT for orders about the dispute. Any owner or the owners corporation can apply to NCAT for orders. For more information on NCAT and how to make an application, see the NCAT website. Before applying to NCAT, you should attempt mediation. NCAT may refuse to accept an application if there has been no attempt at mediation.
If you wish to make your compliant formal, you would have to submit a Form 1 to your body corporate and take their help to resolve any disputes. Your body corporate manager can also help you with further details.
If self-resolution or committee mediation fails, you can apply for dispute resolution with the Commission of Body Corporate and Community Management (BCCM).
If you don’t notice any change, or feel intimidated, you can escalate the issue by asking your committee to issue them with the relevant Notice to Comply, then seek a fine if they continue to make noise. If this does not resolve the issue you can apply for mediation/conciliation through the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
Beyond strata, alternative channels to deal with noisy neighbours
We always recommend talking to your neighbour first, and if that fails, approach your committee to act. However, if the noise is unreasonable and temporary, such as noise emitting from a party, or you have been unsuccessful with other avenues, here are some other authorities that can also assist with unreasonable noise.
Make a noise compliant to the police
If the louder-than-acceptable noise is occurring at night, you are entitled to call the police who have the power to issue a Noise Abatement Direction if they are satisfied the noise is obtrusive and offensive. Once issued, the Noise Abatement Direction must be obeyed immediately, and the offender cannot breach the direction for the following 28 days.
Make a noise compliant through The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA)
The Environment Protection Act 1970 makes it an offence to cause unreasonable noise from any residential premises. Residential noise may be considered unreasonable at any time of the day, depending on its volume, intensity and duration, and the time, place and other circumstances in which it is emitted. The EPA works in partnership with local government, Police and Roads and Maritime Services to enforce noise control regulations. You may also be able to report neighbourhood noise issues to your state’s EPA office.
Make a noise compliant to the local council
Local council can also act under the nuisance provisions of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008. Councils are obliged to investigate noise nuisances. Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, councils can serve prevention notices on residents and business people requiring them to control offensive noise.
If you’d like to find out more on dealing with noise on your strata property, download our FREE Community Living guide on managing disputes. Or for a consultation to review your by-laws by our Kemps Petersons Legal team, click here.