The best approach for dealing with noisy neighbours is to talk to them and work together on a solution to settle the problem.
You may feel anxious about approaching your neighbour, but remember that they are sometimes not aware they are disturbing you. Talking about the noise early on can help make neighbours aware of the problem and be more considerate in future.
Residential noise and the law
Section 48A of the Environment Protection Act 1970 (EP Act) makes it an offence to cause unreasonable noise from any residential premises. Residential noise may be unreasonable at any time of the day, depending on its volume, intensity and duration, and the time, place and other circumstances in which it is emitted.
The Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 2008 list specific types of equipment and times their use is prohibited. The times depend on the type of equipment being used and the day of the week; however, some equipment may still be too loud even when used during the appropriate times.
Example: If your neighbour turned on a radio after 10 pm on a weeknight and you could hear it — and it bothered you — it would be considered unreasonable noise. If your neighbour turned on the radio at 10 am it may not be unreasonable noise because people are generally awake at that time. It could still be considered unreasonable if it was excessively loud or continued for too long.
If your problem isn’t easily resolved
Formal mediation can be a good way to work through the issue together, or you may seek help from police or your local council.
Police and council officers can direct offenders to stop unreasonable noise. A direction remains in force for 12 hours. Failure to comply with a police or council direction is an offence and offenders are liable for on-the-spot fines. Directions can be issued at any time, and are typically used for noise such as loud parties or annoying airconditioners during the prohibited hours.
Local council can also take action under the nuisance provisions of the Health Act 1958. Councils are obliged to investigate noise nuisances.
For people living in apartments, their Owners Corporation must have procedures under the Owners Corporations Act 2006 to help deal with grievances. These can support communication between neighbours or when making a formal complaint. Also, under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, renters must avoid disturbing the peace and comfort of neighbours. Landlords may take action against tenants who break these rules. For more information on owners corporations or rental and noise, please contact Consumer Affairs Victoria on 1300 55 81 81.
The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria can assist in resolving noise problems. This organisation helps people settle their disputes in a cooperative and lasting way. Mediation relies on both parties to the dispute being willing to discuss the problem in the presence of a mediator. Services are free and confidential.
Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria Level 4/456 Lonsdale St, Melbourne Telephone: (03) 9603 8370 Fax: (03) 9603 8355