This question about the body corporate’s obligation to test noise levels has been answered by Frank Higginson, Hynes Legal.
Question: As a lot owner, am I able to get the body corporate to test noise levels to ensure adequate installation is installed in the walls?
I am an owner of a townhouse with shared walls on both sides. All the townhouses have wooden floorboards and a wooden staircase. I have two issues regarding noise in my townhouse.
The first issue is that rental tenants with an 18 month old child have moved into one of the townhouses adjacent to ours.
Every single morning from 4:30 am onward there is constant banging of various degrees, sounds of the child running across the lounge room wooden floors, cupboard doors opening and closing, various items being dragged over walls and jumping up and down on the floor. All sounds vibrate and can be heard very loudly up into my bedroom.
The second issue is the stairs that run up along either side of my unit. You can hear every single step every time someone uses the stairs, to the extent that it sounds as if someone is in my house using my own staircase. Also when people talk on the stairs (which are internal staircases connecting the levels in each townhouse that are tri-level) you can hear word for word in my apartment.
As an owner, am I able to get the body corporate to test noise levels to ensure adequate installation is installed in the walls?
Answer: As evidence, make a log of the times and some degree of measurement of the noise.
Where this one sits is that:
- The body corporate has an obligation to reasonably enforce by-laws; and
- The by-laws will be breached (depending on their wording) if the noise unreasonably interferes with the use and enjoyment of your lot.
So for the body corporate to be able to enforce the by-laws they need evidence. Normally that will need to come from you as the complainant. It is not necessarily the body corporate’s obligation to gather its own evidence on your behalf. Proving that noise unreasonably interferes can be sometimes difficult so it is an easy argument for the body corporate to justify that they aren’t willing to take the risk of trying to enforce the by-laws when they aren’t satisfied they have enough evidence to be successful in the first place.
So what we would suggest is taking a log of the times and some degree of measurement of the noise. You can then send that to the body corporate and ask them to take by-law enforcement action. The alternative is to ask them to send around a note reminding occupiers of the noise that can be created on the stairs and early in the morning.
This post appears in Strata News #148.
- QLD: Q&A Noisy floorboards upstairs disturb our peace
- How to deal with noise complaints when living in a Strata Community
Looking for strata information concerning your state? For state-specific strata information, take a look here.