Everyone loves a good party, except of course if you live next door and didn’t get that invitation. Noisy neighbours isn’t something they advertise in the real estate brochures when you first look to purchase an apartment nor is it something you can control. As Harper Lee wrote, “You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your
Noise pollution is any unwanted sound that’s annoying, distracting or harmful to a person’s wellbeing. We all know people have a huge variance in the level of noise that they can tolerate, think a teenager with Tones and I’s Dance Monkey cranked to 11 versus grandad trying to complete the latest Sudoku whilst listening to ABC Radio National.
As you can imagine this can cause some tension between all parties and is a very common complaint raised by those living in the close confines of apartment buildings.
So, what can you do about it?
Go and have a chat with your Neighbour
And by “chat” I mean a chat, not hurling abuse through the door. It may be a bit out of people’s comfort zone to go and knock on a stranger’s door, but you will be surprised how effective this can be. People are less inclined to ignore you if they can see and hear directly from the person affected by their actions – works much better than a letter.
You can also use the intercom at the building entrance to communicate with your neighbour if you don’t (or can’t) knock on their door directly.
Leave them a note
Not as effective as point 1 but can be less confrontational for most of us. Write a pleasant note explaining how the noise is adversely affecting you and slip it under their door or place it in their letterbox.
It is best to write this note on the following day and not in the middle of the night when you can’t sleep, and your choice of words may be a tad confrontational.
Call the Police
It may seem extreme, but if there is a raging party that has been going all night then a quick visit from the Police may put an end to it. Keep in mind though that such complaints are not high on the priority list for the Police, so don’t expect to see them turn up immediately, or in the next few hours.
Complete an Official Complaint Form
The Owners Corporations Act has a provision for handling noise complaints which are a breach of the Model Rules. Complete and submit an Official Complaint Form to your Owners Corporation Manager to commence the dispute resolution process.
When submitting such a complaint you should include diary notes of dates and times when you heard the noise to support your case.
Attend the Conciliation Meeting
The first step in the dispute process is that the Owners Corporation may call a meeting between yourself and the noisy neighbour. This meeting will be facilitated by members of the Owners Corporation’s Committee (and Manager) to come to a suitable arrangement to prevent further incidents.
The Owners Corporation may issue a Breach Notice to the noisy neighbour if they continue to have those parties (or whatever the noise may be) with a direction to cease such activities or instructing them take some action to mitigate the noise transfer.
Head Off to VCAT
If all of the above fails, then in some circumstances the matter may need to progress to VCAT to obtain an Order for the noisy neighbour to stop what they are doing, or take whatever action is needed to resolve the matter.
There are many examples of what type of noise complaints arise besides the loud party example. It could be the apartment above has replaced their carpet with timber floors without sufficient acoustic underlay – resulting in the downstairs neighbour hearing every foot step or furniture move made. Hearing high heels walk back and forth each day over your head can drive some people insane.
Jump over to our Resources page to get into the specifics on what noise is permitted and when with the EPA’s document “Annoyed By Noise?” or if you want to get technical, check out the document “Association of Australasian Acoustical Consultants Guideline for Apartment and Townhouse Acoustic Rating” – also on our resources page.
Have a peaceful evening everyone, or if you can’t beat them, join them! (or maybe follow the steps above).