AA - Sept 2020

Author: STONEWOOD Property Management
9 September 2020

HOW TO DEAL WITH NOISE DISTURBANCES IN YOUR SCHEME

Living in a sectional title scheme has many advantages but one very distinctive disadvantage is being exposed to noise disturbances. This can be a challenging problem to deal with but let’s look at what the prescribed conduct rules say about noise disturbance in the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Act:

  • Rule 7 deals with how occupiers and visitors in schemes should behave.
  • Rule 7 (1) states that an owner or occupier of a section must not create noise likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of another person in the scheme.
  • Rule 7 (3) requires the owner or occupier of a section to take reasonable steps to ensure that their visitors do not behave in a way likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of another person in the scheme.

Unfortunately, the prescribed rules are not definitive and do not give an indication of how to deal with noise.

This blog looks at various types of noise disturbances and how to best address them.

Noise from pets

A resident must submit an application to trustees to keep a pet in their unit. When the trustees consider the application, they may place certain restrictions on the owner to ensure the pet is not a nuisance to other residents. The trustees may not be unreasonable in their demands.

The biggest issue with pets is usually barking dogs. Where a resident has been informed that the dog is a nuisance, and the situation does not improve, the trustees may demand that the owner has the dog removed from the unit.

Many schemes amend their conduct rules to state that pets are not allowed in the scheme. Unless these rules are changed, residents are allowed to keep pets in their units, provided they have been granted permission from the trustees.

Domestic disputes

Noise resulting from domestic disputes can be difficult to control or stop, especially if it becomes violent. There are no conduct rules that provides guidance on domestic disturbances. If residents or trustees are unable to diffuse a domestic dispute, the best solution is to call the local police or the security company employed by the complex.

The trustees should invite the parties involved in the dispute to a trustee meeting after the event to discuss the incident. The aim of this meeting is to inform the involved parties in a neutral situation that their actions was unacceptable and that it cannot be tolerated.

Unless the scheme has rules that allows for fines or penalties to be imposed on owners, there is very little that can be done to stop this kind of noise disturbance other than approaching them directly.

Parties

This is a very common contributor to noise disturbance in schemes. Bodies corporate generally do not have rules that deal with this type of noise disturbance and for this reason, the best way to proactively deal with this is to amend the scheme rules.

A common way to deal with noisy parties is to amend the rules to restrict residents from making a noise after a certain time at night and not allowing them to play loud music. A continuous breach of the rule may then lead to a fine or penalty.

Renovations

Renovations do not necessarily happen that often but when it does, it can be very disturbing – especially during the day. Again, the schemes will need to amend their rules to provide for procedures that must be followed when internal renovations are being done.

If the rules make provision for fines and penalties, the trustees can rely on such rules by issuing a fine where a request for reduced noise levels were ignored. The rule amendments should provide restrictions on the times during which renovations may be done and which equipment may (or may not) be used by the contractor.

Consideration and good communication will go a long way. If the owner who wants to do renovations informs the other owners beforehand of the times during which there will be noise due to renovations, the other residents are likely to be more tolerant of the noise levels.

In the case of body corporate renovations to the common property, the noise levels and related disturbance may extend over a longer period. Trustees should take care to communicate the time period required to complete such planned renovations. Understandably, there will be significant disturbance of the residents’ peace and quiet, and trustees must be aware of the impact it will have on the residents.

Conclusion

It is expected that some degree of noise will always exist in a community scheme where space is shared in close proximity. The best way to deal with it is to ensure that the body corporate rules are amended to allow for effective ways to deal with excessive or extended noise disturbance.

Residents should be kept informed about the scheme rules and what is expected of them related to noise disturbances. This will make it easier for trustees to manage situations as and when it arises.

The original article can be viewed here: