Building Manager Review Issue 5 2013- Noise

Welcome to the September edition of the Building Manager’s Review. In this issue we deal with noise.

“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”

Noise comes from all areas and walks of life, owners and tenants. Regardless of where the noise comes from the building and strata mangers are the people expected to deal with it.

Is the noise offensive or intrusive? Noise to some may be relaxing or entertaining to others. Noise can be linked to sleep deprivation, stress and can also affect your general well-being. The time at which the noise is heard also plays a major part in a complaint. Music during the day may be heard at the same volume at night yet the night time sounds seem to be enhanced.

 

Strata Community Australia states “In Australia protection against noise when it becomes a nuisance is covered under Common Law”. By-laws may not always be sufficient in dealing with noise issues so it is a good idea to inform the affected party/ies that the problem may be also dealt with under common law. Pigott Stinson lawyers state “The onus of proof (of noise) will lie on the complainant to establish a breach. Once the breach is proven, the defendant must satisfy the court that the steps he/she is taking or will take will be successful in preventing transmission of noise”


 

“In Troobnikoff, Nicholas v Toma, J Mrs Bordon J held that “…by-law 14 Floor coverings….has to be applied in a pragmatic way. It cannot place an unreasonable burden on the owner of the lot who is required to comply with it. The age and condition of the particular Strata Parcel are also relevant considerations. And of course it has to be expected that some noise will be transmitted though the floor space, particularly at certain times during the day. When the by-law speaks of ‘noise likely to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of a lot’, it has to be taken it does this in the above context.”

The most common noise complaints are:

  • music
  • loud talking
  • parties
  • flooring
  • banging of cupboards
  • fans and motors
  • vehicles – motorbikes in car parks
  • sirens
  • dogs barking
  • dryers on all hours of the morning
  • children playing

Possible solutions

The best way to (first) deal with any noise related matter is for the affected person to directly speak to the resident (lot) where the noise is emanating from although this course of action may not always be possible due to security within the complex. If this option fails the building manager or strata manager may call or send the offending resident a nice email explaining the complaint. If the origin of the noise cannot be distinguished a general letter to all residents reminding them they live in a community environment and to keep noise levels to a minimum at all times. Failing the first 2 options you need to find out exactly where the noise is coming from (which lot), the specific type of noise and who or what is making the noise. Once this has been determined a notice outlining the complaint and related issues to the resident can be served by either the building or strata manager.

Another possible solution to deal with noise is to apply for mediation through The Office of Fair Trading.

There are some great government bodies throughout Australia that deal with noise issues and they may be well worth contacting if noise continues to be a problem:
Nadine Behan has written a very informative book called Neighbours and law, which covers noise issues and your legal writes – www.legalanswers.sl.nsw.gov.au/guides/neighbours/

What obligations does an Owners Corporation have to deal with noise complaints?

A complaint, in writing, to the building or strata manager is deemed an official complaint and this must be dealt with appropriately. The strata manager, after a motion is passed at an executive committee meeting (ECM), may issue a by-law breach notice to the offender, but this can be strongly denied by the alleged culprit and may not solve the issue. The owners corporation (OC) may or may not continue with the issue, either way the OC must write to the complainant outlining what they have done and any future dealings on the matter they will undertake.

Strata Community Australia states “Because noise is such a subjective matter, it can be difficult to prove that someone is truly disturbing others. If the noise is regular, keeping a diary of incidents, and even recording audio/video with a smart phone can help provide evidence. Also keep a copy of any correspondence you have regarding the issue”

 

The Owners Corporation Network (OCN) has a great article on noise. noise readings and many other interesting facts –

Have a question you’d like answered or feedback on our first Review?

Just get in touch – info@k-sbms.com.au

K&S BMS has been working in the strata sector for almost 30 years. Our services are designed to assist owners corporations with the smooth running of their buildings. Duties we undertake include: by-law enforcement, coordinating repairs and maintenance, assisting with building defects issues and claims, coordinating fire and essential service compliance, managing various maintenance contracts, liaising with owners and tenants in the day-to-day operation of their building, and waste management.
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