This question came in from an NSW Lot Owner asking about further action to take after issuing a noise complaint letter to strata. Leanne Habib, Premium Strata provides the following response.
Question: I have issued a noise complaint letter to strata, but the noise from the water pump in the wall has not been resolved. What is the next step to settle this matter and let me get a good nights sleep?
I have a unit that has a hot water pump on the other side of my bedroom wall. There is a low hum that reverberates throughout my unit at night from this pump.
I have issued a noise complaint letter to strata, however, my strata manager tells me that there is nothing they can do and they are within the required limits.
I have had a Sydney council inspector come in to measure the noise in the afternoon but they say that there is no case for them to take action.
What can I do? It is not fair that I am suffering because of a mechanical device that I have no control over. Can I take legal action?
Answer: You would make an application to NCAT for Orders to settle the “dispute” provided you attempted mediation first.
Under Section 153 of the Strata Schemes Management Act, 2015 (NSW), owners/ occupiers must not create nuisance. You would make application to NCAT for Orders to settle the “dispute” provided you attempted mediation first.
Note, however, as you would be the applicant, you would have the onus of proof to prove that the “low hum” constitutes a nuisance (which will be quite onerous given that you state the device meets with Australian Building Codes and Standards and the noise generated appears to be within normal tolerance levels):
Owners, occupiers and other persons not to create nuisance
- An owner, mortgagee or covenant chargee in possession, tenant or occupier of a lot in a strata scheme must not:
- use or enjoy the lot, or permit the lot to be used or enjoyed, in a manner or for a purpose that causes a nuisance or hazard to the occupier of any other lot (whether that person is an owner or not), or
- use or enjoy the common property in a manner or for a purpose that interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of the common property by the occupier of any other lot (whether that person is an owner or not) or by any other person entitled to the use and enjoyment of the common property, or
- use or enjoy the common property in a manner or for a purpose that interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of any other lot by the occupier of the lot (whether that person is an owner or not) or by any other person entitled to the use and enjoyment of the lot.
Depending on the circumstances in which it occurs, the penetration of smoke from smoking into a lot or common property may cause a nuisance or hazard and may interfere unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of the common property or another lot.
- This section does not operate to prevent the due exercise of rights conferred on a developer by the operation of section 82 of the Strata Schemes Development Act 2015.
Division 1 of Part 6 contains provisions about the circumstances in which owners of lots may carry out work that affects common property.
The only other recourse might be that there is a “defect” in the common property walls causing acoustic issues or that the hot water system was installed unlawfully (ie without the proper approvals of the Owners Corporation, if this is relevant). Again, you would need expert evidence to support your case.
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
This post appears in Strata News #144.
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- Law Access NSW: Noise complaints in strata
- Law Access NSW: Sample letter to noisy neighbour
- OCN: Noise in Strata Buildings
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, take a look here.
Are you not sure about some of the strata terms used in this article? Take a look at our NSW Strata Glossary to help with your understanding.