Managing Noise Levels In Your Building – What’s Acceptable?
Strata living has many upsides, including shared costs, a lot of ways you can engage in decision-making processes and, ideally, a friendly community that you can live in. However, to ensure this, it’s important that each owner is considerate of other owners in a strata scheme. As noise complaints can be somewhat common in strata living, it is important to know about the regulations in place and what you can do to ensure that your noise levels are at a minimum.
What laws and regulation are in place?
Noise levels can be regulated by both state-wide laws and your strata’s own by-laws. On the state level, there is the Protection of the Environment (Noise Control) Regulation 2008, which covers the use of power tools, music, pumps, air conditioners, water heaters and motor vehicle noise. All of these come with time restrictions. Excepting music, air conditioners and water heaters, this usually means that these noises are prohibited between 8pm and 7am on weekdays, and 8am on weekends and public holidays. Music is allowed until midnight on Fridays, Saturdays and days preceding public holidays, and until 10pm on all other days. 10pm is also the cut-off for air conditioners and water heaters regardless of the day of the week.
For your strata’s by-laws, there are two options: either your strata follows the guidelines set out by the NSW Strata Schemes Management Regulations and Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 or it has customised by-laws agreed upon by the owners corporation. At least 75% of the owners corporation has to vote in favour of these by-laws. They can cover things like acceptable standards for floor coverings and underlays, when building work on both common and personal property is allowed, and other acoustic specifications.
What can you do to minimise noise coming from your property?
The first step is always to make sure that any changes to flooring and walls meet the acoustic specifications of your strata scheme. If you notice that a wall that is common property is especially noise-conductive, you can raise the issue with the strata committee or your strata manager. If your flooring is too noisy, you may want to consider an underlay or carpeting.
If you know that your property will be noisy for a short amount of time, for example because of small building works or a party, ensure beforehand that you know all relevant strata by-laws. In order to avoid upsetting any of your neighbours, make sure that you inform them beforehand of the additional noise and that you don’t go beyond the legally regulated times with any noise coming from your property.
When it comes to noise complaints, talking to people directly and taking a considerate approach usually works best. However, if that doesn’t resolve the issue, you might need some mediation or someone with in-depth knowledge of the law. Find out more about how Jamesons can provide these services for you here.