These NSW lot owners would like to know how to deal with the ” noisy tenants above me “. Thank you Leanne Habib of Premium Strata and Paula Byrnes of Metropolitan Strata Reports for providing the following responses.
Question: How do I deal with noisy tenants above me?
My husband and I have lived in the first floor unit of out 8 unit block in NSW for 3 years. The first year was bliss until the owners asked their current tenants to move! At this time I observed him removing the carpet from the main bedroom. He said it was standard issue flooring. However, he never had permission from the current strata at that time to remove the carpet.
Since then, life has been constantly interrupted from noisy tenants above me – dropped articles, slamming doors, flushing toilets, children running, tenants allowing their visitors to be disruptive during the late evening.
We have had no success in dealing with the tenants and the owner has passed the problem onto his Real Estate Agent. They call the tenants when we complain and it is ok for a few days/weeks!
Can you suggest what we can do next for a peaceful life!
Answer: The subject unit owner has removed the carpet without the consent of the Owners Corporation which has resulted in the noise disturbance to others lot.
Our reply is prepared on the assumption that the model (standard) by laws apply to the scheme.
The Owners Corporation should be requested to enforce compliance with by law 1, noise and by law 14, floor coverings
CLAUSE 1 – NOISE
1 You must not make noise at any time within your lot or on common property that is likely to disturb peaceful enjoyment of another resident or anyone using common property.
CLAUSE 14 – Floor Coverings
14 You must cover the floor of your lot or treat it to stop noise which may disturb another resident. This does not apply to the kitchen, laundry, lavatory or bathroom of a lot.
The subject unit owner has removed the carpet without the consent of the Owners Corporation which has resulted in the noise disturbance to others lot.
To initiate the by law enforcement, the Owners Corporation should start with issuing a bylaw breach letter requesting the owner to arrange for adequate floor coverings to prevent the noise transmission into other lots.
If the owner does not comply, action should be escalated to issuing a Notice to Comply with the relevant by laws which will than allow opportunity to proceed to the NCAT seeking orders for compliance should the matter still not be resolved.
This post appears in Strata News #105.
This article is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
Does an owner have the right to hassle a tenant to fix a noise transference issue?
The tenant told me: “I’m being hassled from the downstairs owner about our kids – even when they are playing quietly …” This case involves timber floors between two units.
The owner living in the unit below approached the tenants above shortly after the tenants moved in, to let the tenants know that they can hear children running up and down the floor. The noise on the ceiling of the owner’s unit below is loud enough to wake up her baby. She states she is having trouble “dealing with the noisy tenants above me”.
The tenants took appropriate action and asked the landlord to provide a thick hall runner to reduce noise transference from the upper unit, however, the landlord denied the request. Not wanting to waste money on a rug that would potentially have no use at the end of their lease, they bought a few inexpensive long rugs for the floor, but this did little to stop the noise transference; and the owner living below started an annoying habit of texting the mother regularly to let her know that she could hear the kids running around.
The tenants in the upper unit had already executed a NO-RUNNING-IN-THE-HOUSE rule for the children. Kids being kids forget at times, so the parents would have to constantly remind them!
The complaints from the owner below however just increased and this owner even went as far as suggesting that the tenants introduce an “in-to-bed-by-7.30pm” rule!
The final straw for the tenants came when a friend, who came for a visit with her 4 kids, left because she could see how stressed out the parents were about the kids running around … I’ll add that it was in the middle of the day!!!
In my opinion, this is simply ‘over the top’… so I had to find out for myself if this owner was simply ‘noise-sensitive’ and unreasonable, or if the noise was in fact at an unacceptable level. Could I deal with these noises from the tenants above?
So I got one of the kids to walk normally up and down a small area of the upper floor and to my surprise, it did sound like the child was stomping; so I can image when all 3 children are playing eg hide-n-seek, it would be unbearable for the owner below … let alone when the mother walks in high heels after a date night with the father.
Apartment noise transference issue impeding on the tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of the property
That was sufficient evidence to come to the conclusion that this noise transference issue was impeding on the tenant’s peaceful enjoyment of the property – a property that they pay in excess of $1,000 per week for!
On the other hand, I empathise with owner downstairs who says the noise is waking up her baby.
So who is responsible to resolve the issue of noise transference between lots? Does an owner have the right to get a tenant to fix a noise transference issue?
By-law 15 (Floor coverings) states “An owner of a lot must ensure that all floor space within the lot is covered or otherwise treated to an extent sufficient to prevent the transmission from the floor space of noise likely to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot …”
This raises the question: what is ‘sufficient extent to prevent transmission of noise’?
In good faith, the tenants wanted to a) make sure they weren’t compromising their lease conditions and b) that I could help the down-stairs owner resolve her issue, as she had threatened legal action to have wall-to-wall carpet laid on the existing floating-timber floors… not only would that be expensive for the owner, but carpet would be a nightmare for the tenants with 4 children …
It’s been reported that the current flooring meets current acoustic standards, so how successful would the owner be in obtaining orders? My advice to the owner is to seek the opinion of a solicitor who specialises in Strata Law.
Unless Strata offices who use an electronic document management system label this kind of correspondence clearly, it will likely get missed during an inspection of the records … unfortunately, a lot of strata agents aren’t diligent with their electronic filing system.
A strata report should reference a review of the correspondence for the past few years and confirm any evidence of this kind of disharmony. Alternatively, the report should state if no evidence of disharmony was sighted.
A tenant doesn’t have as much to lose as an owner who gets lumbered with these kinds of issues. Given that most issues can be resolved albeit costly at times, a strata report can give you more leverage in negotiating the final sale price.
In this case, the tenants would not have leased the property if they had of known about the issue; however, they would have grounds to break the lease. The tenant’s dilemma is finding an affordable low-maintenance property close to the children’s school and daycare so for now, these tenants have chosen to minimise the noise and hope that the landlord will at least provide a thick hall runner to appease the downstairs owner!
- NSW: Children and Noise Complaints in Apartments – ‘Keep your child quiet or pay $550’
- Q&A Overcrowding and Number of Occupants in NSW Apartments
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