When you live in strata, how do you deal with a noisy neighbour in the apartment above? Whether the neighbour is construction all hours of the day and night or has installed noisy vinyl floorboards without approval, Leanne Habib, Premium Strata provides the following responses.
Question: We are trying very hard during our renovations not to be the noisy neighbour. So as not to upset other residents, when can we use power tools on weekdays, weekends and public holidays?
I am working on a deck in my townhouse and don’t want to be the noisy neighbours upstairs. What are the rules regarding times you can use power tools on weekdays, weekends and public holidays?
I am getting mixed answers from the other owners and our strata agent is no help.
Can you give me the correct info, or point me in the right direction to find it so I can comfortably do the work needed without upsetting others in my building.
Answer: Noise from power tools that are audible from habitable rooms of a neighbouring residence must cease during certain times.
NSW Office of Environment & Heritage has a useful webpage on construction noise.
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 is the relevant legislation which is administered by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) (mostly public authority works) and others (local development) by council.
The NSW Interim Construction Noise Guideline stipulates standard hours, however, you should check for specific hours with your local council.
Generally, noise from power tools that are audible from habitable rooms of a neighbouring residence must cease during certain times: 8 pm to 8 am on Sundays and public holidays, and 8 pm to 7 am on weekdays and Saturdays.
This post appears in Strata News #244.
Question: A noisy neighbour has replaced carpet with vinyl boards. This renovation was done without owners corporation approval. The increased noise transference permitted through the new vinyl flooring is unacceptable to neighbours who have complained accordingly.
Following is the summary of an issue that is causing concern and conflict in our units.
Immediately upon moving into his first-floor unit in early 2017, a new owner replaced existing carpet floor coverings with vinyl planks. This vinyl was glued directly to the concrete floor.
No approval was sought or granted to this change of floor covering by the Owners Corporation, despite advice regarding the requirements of the SMA being explained to the new owner prior to the installation.
The owners of the unit have twice sought retrospective approval at Owners Corporation meetings and have twice been refused on the basis of excessive noise.
The increased noise transference permitted through the new vinyl flooring is unacceptable to neighbours who have complained accordingly.
The offending noisy neighbour refuses to rectify the problem.
The Strata Committee and the Strata Managers have chosen to ignore this problem.
What remedy is available to the offended owners and ramifications of the non-approval of the change in flooring.
Answer: The Owners Corporation would need to show their reasonableness in refusing the floorboards for the benefit of the greater majority of the building with well-documented evidence of nuisance caused.
Despite the fact that flooring is now a minor renovation (which the offending owners have not obtained) any minor renovation would still need to comply with the other by-laws applicable to the scheme eg floor coverings/noise.
In case of the former, if floor coverings over the unauthorised floorboards to not eliminate the nuisance, then the offending owners are in breach of the old by-law 14 which may apply to your scheme. Alternatively, new by-law 6 “noise” prohibits undue noise.
Any refusal to approve the flooring installation would have to be justified on a case by case basis, assessing the merits of the case and the Owners Corporation would need to show their reasonableness in refusing the floorboards for the benefit of the greater majority of the building with well-documented evidence of nuisance caused.
This post appears in Strata News #201.
NSW: Q&A Noisy Neighbour Constructing in the Apartment Above
November 2017 – Question: What can I do about a noisy neighbour in the apartment above who hammers, sands and drags all hours of the day and night?
If you could help me in terms of where to go next.. and what my rights are.
We live in a ground floor apartment. Our neighbour above moved in earlier this year. He builds stage sets for theatre. There is daily hammering, sanding and dragging. It’s like living with constant renovations.
I’m a pretty reasonable person and can live with it during the day, but when he hammers at 7 pm sometimes 9 pm it makes my living space a difficult place. We sent him a letter to ask if he could please limit his carpentry work to daytime hours. The last four days he has continued with evening work.
I am continuing to record the times and dates…. where do I go from here in order to hush this noisy neighbour?
Answer: The noisy neighbour should be issued with a Notice to Comply
You should seek assistance from your strata manager who should, in turn, seek instructions from your strata committee that the noisy neighbour should be issued with a Notice to Comply.
The noise is likely to be in breach of the “noise” by-law applicable to your scheme (check your by-laws). It also appears that the noise constitutes a nuisance which is actionable under the new strata legislation (see Section 153 of the SSMA 2015). Keep up the record keeping as you will need it to persuade your strata committee that the noise is nuisance and if they do not agree, you will need it for mediation and a possible NCAT hearing.
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.
Note: This by-law was previously by-law 12 in Schedule 1 to the Strata Schemes (Freehold Development) Act 1973 and by-law 13 in Schedule 3 to the Strata Schemes (Leasehold Development) Act 1986.
153 Owners, occupiers and other persons not to create nuisance (Old Section 117)
(1) An owner, mortgagee or covenant chargee in possession, tenant or occupier of a lot in a strata scheme must not:
(a) 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
(b) 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
(c) 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.
Query also whether the “home occupation” is contrary to zoning/permissible uses by Council.
This post appears in Strata News #170.
- NSW: Q&A Noise Complaint Letter to Strata
- NSW: Children and Noise Complaints in Apartments – ‘Keep your child quiet or pay $550’
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.