This Q&A, providing information about noise coming from neighbours due to hard flooring in strata has been answered by Jordan Dinga, Abode Strata.
Question: We have an issue with noise from the neighbours in the unit above. They have hard flooring installed. Everyday movements can be heard eg, talking, television, music…..
We have the issue of increased noise from our strata neighbours above. It has been ascertained that they have installed wood flooring with the following dimensions – 8 mm floating floorboards, with 3 mm underlay. Does this comply with strata law?
Everyday movements can be heard eg, talking, television, music and sexual activity. Can you please guide us on how to deal with this.
Answer: First thing is to see whether the property has a specific ByLaw or something in the Management Statement regarding floor coverings and or sound transfer.
First thing is to see whether the property has a specific ByLaw or something in the Management Statement regarding floor coverings and or sound transfer contributing to the noise from the neighbour that is further or contrary to the below from the strata legislation.
Otherwise under the STRATA TITLES ACT 1985 – SCHEDULE 2
10. Floor coverings
A proprietor of a lot shall ensure that all floor space within the lot (other than that comprising kitchen, laundry, lavatory or bathroom) is covered or otherwise treated to an extent sufficient to prevent the transmission therefrom of noise likely to disturb the peaceful enjoyment of the proprietor, occupier or other resident of another lot.
What would constitute ‘sufficient’? This would be as per the local council’s requirements, and they do vary. Depending on the local council, most have processes in place on how to organise testing of the decibel sound and can justify whether it is classified as “sufficient”. You can find this information on a simple google or searching on your local council’s website or ringing them.
If they are not found to be ‘sufficient’ you can then proceed through your Strata Company OR the State Administrative Tribunal to seek for orders for the neighbouring lot owner to remove the floor due to disturbances, noise etc.
This post appears in Strata News #228.
This information is not intended to be personal advice and you should not rely on it as a substitute for any form of advice.
Question: I hear excessive noise from the apartment above. Most of the disturbance is caused during the day. Can I do anything about this disturbance?
I have persistent noise issues with the unit above.
Originally they had a few kids running amok. I approached them a couple of times politely, but they accused me, via the property manager, of harassment – so not a good start!
They are shift workers and come in late banging around and cooking in the kitchen and have been playing loud music during the daytime/singing along. The strata sent an email at my request re noise rules etc, but they continue with the loud music. The thud of the bass and the voice are a bit much.
I joined the Council of Owners for the strata, but judging from the way previous noise issue in the strata have been handled, the Council of Owners seem reluctant to act firmly with other neighbours. I’m keeping a log of times etc, but am wondering how daytime noise – ie the music problem – is viewed.
Answer: If a complaint is given in writing to the Council of Owners and it falls within a breach of the strata company by-laws, the Council of Owners MUST enforce the by-laws regardless of cost or inconvenience until a ruling states that the noise is acceptable or not.
The dictionary defines noise as follows:
“a sound, especially one that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance.”
synonyms: sound, loud sound, din, hubbub, clamour, racket, uproar, tumult, commotion, pandemonium, clangour;
This is a broad description, as noise is also completely subjective to those hearing it. The Strata Titles Act 1985 and Schedule 1 & 2 by-laws are there to allow governance of the Strata Complex and, while not always specific, cover everything in one capacity or another.
Depending on whether you have additional or amended by-laws, the statutory by-laws will indicate under Schedule 1:
A proprietor, occupier or other resident of a lot shall ‑
(b) not use the lot or permit it to be used in such manner or for such purpose as causes a nuisance to any occupier of another lot (whether a proprietor or not) or the family of such an occupier;
(c) take all reasonable steps to ensure that his visitors do not behave in a manner likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of the proprietor, occupier or other resident of another lot or of any person lawfully using common property;
(b) & (c) both can identify noise (b) as a nuisance and (c) as interfering with the “peaceful” enjoyment of others.
Being subjective, acceptable noise levels are open to individual interpretation. Only by engaging the services of an independent third party can some clarification be gained. This can still be contested and may end up at the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) for a ruling.
In a strata situation, what can you do about noise from neighbours?
You indicated that previous noise complaints were not followed through. Do you have a Strata Manager?
If a complaint is given in writing to the Council of Owners and it falls within a breach of the strata company by-laws, the Council of Owners MUST enforce the by-laws regardless of cost or inconvenience until a ruling states that the noise is acceptable or not. The matter MUST be pursued.
A person who makes a complaint that is then not resolved or acted on has the right to take the strata company (Council of Owners) to SAT.
There are many agendas here: the tenants, the property manager, the owner of that unit and the CoO. The Strata Titles Act does not care about individual agendas. The owner is wanting to maintain their tenant in a difficult market; the property manager is only being paid as long as there is a tenant; the tenant surrounded by noise is hardly likely to consider others.
The Strata Company’s obligation is to the Owners, not the tenants or the property manager. Individual owners are responsible for their tenants and any lease agreement requires them to comply with the by-laws or they will breach their lease.
A written complaint from an owner should equate into a breach warning letter from the Strata Company to the owner of the unit indicating that there has been a noise complaint relative to their tenanted unit. The letter should indicate that a response is required within 7 days from the owner in writing if they wish to dispute the allegation. If no response and the noise continues a formal breach indicating that they are in breach of the by-laws, stating the by-law they are breaching and informing them they have up to 7 days to respond. If no response or an unacceptable response and the noise continues, the CoO should contact a lawyer to do a Legal Breach.
Depending on how the process goes i.e. resolved or not, sound technicians, or shire environmental officers may be required to report on the noise. The whole process creates paperwork that will substantiate the case when or if the Strata Company (CoO) takes the matter to SAT.
Are noise complaints easy to resolve? Like all complaints, this is dependant on others doing the right thing. In a lot of cases, if the Strata Company has not enforced the by-laws properly this can lead to an acceptance that noise and other breaches may be ok. At some point, Strata Companies must take responsibility or risk an individual taking them to task and possibly suing them. Once a by-law has been enforced this should alert others to the rules.
Also, it is good business to keep other owners informed of any outcome in this matter along with giving them a set of the “behavioural by-laws” in force at your complex.
Remember short-term thinking leads to long-term problems.
This post appears in Strata News #133.
Note: this is an opinion only and suitable specialists in these areas should be sort for clarification on all points.
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