Noisy neighbours in any situation can be a nuisance, but when it comes to apartment blocks and strata buildings the impact can be even worse. Living in close proximity to others can cause noise problems from things such as loud foot-steps, air-conditioning units, cars coming and going, visitors and other general unavoidable everyday noises.

Strata buildings also attract noise problems which are not directly associated with any individual resident such as clanking and dripping pipes. This therefore makes it hard to distinguish between reasonable expected noise and excessive noise causing nuisance to others. It also highlights the problem of what to do if you are faced with noisy neighbours.

Strata title & By-laws

The distinction between reasonable expected noise and excessive noise is ultimately decided by the owner’s corporation and through the creation of by-laws. This group is made up of people who own the lots within a strata scheme, usually an apartment or a villa in a complex. This legal entity authorises them with shared responsibility of ‘common property’, therefore giving them the right to participate in decision making.

Members of the owner’s corporation have regular meetings to manage the scheme, which is where they develop the by-laws that govern occupiers and visitors to the property. A set of model by-laws is available on the fair trading website which can either be adopted as is, or edited by the owners to suit the lifestyle of the strata schemes occupants. These laws cannot be harsh, discriminatory, oppressive or restrictive of who can occupy the lots (including children).

What if someone in your building is breaching the by-laws?

These are the steps we suggest to deal with neighbours creating excessive noise;

  • The easiest and usually most effective response is to be polite and address the issue with the offending neighbour directly – In some cases they may not even be aware of how loud they are being. Agreements can be made that will benefit both parties and help to avoid the issue becoming larger than it needs to be.
  • If this does not help, look up your buildings by-laws. Landlords or the property manager must supply these laws to you within 14 days of moving in. If you have not received them, they are kept in the strata roll which is available from either the secretary of the Owners Corporation or from your managing agent.
  • If you find that there is a breach of the by-laws then ask either the secretary of the Owners Corporation or strata manager to issue a notice to comply with a by-law to the offender.
  • If the noise continues after the notice has been issued then the Owners Corporation can apply to the tribunal to impose a penalty.
  • If the occupier breaches the by-law again in the next 12 months, then additional fines can be issued without a notice to comply.

For further information or inquiries, please contact the offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 780 770.