Often we are unaware of how noise coming from our home impacts those around us.
Sometimes you can’t hear what your neighbours can. It’s important to remember that often our noise is not our neighbour’s choice but there are some simple steps you can take to minimise noise.
In the ACT, the most common noise complaints are about:
• Loud music and parties
• Air conditioners and pool pumps
• Garden maintenance including leaf blowers
• Building renovations and power tools.
The Environment Protection Act 1997 sets out the noise levels permitted in residential areas for day and night. Penalties apply if the noise exceeds acceptable limits.
This guide sets out the noise limits and lets you know how noisy you can be when doing certain activities. It also provides tips on minimising noise and who to contact about noise issues.
Remember to drop of the letter ten days before your party/event because most people appreciate advance notice so they can make other arrangements if necessary.
In the ACT, permitted noise levels drop after 10pm so it’s a good time to move the music and guests inside at this time.
If you are playing music you can minimise noise by ensuring the speakers are not facing towards a neighbour and remember to turn the volume of the bass down as this often bothers neighbours.
More tips are available at act.gov.au/noise
If you are dealing with a noisy neighbour
Here are some tips to get the conversation started:
1. Think ahead of time about what you want to say
2. Choose a time to chat that is convenient
3. Explain calmly how the noise is affecting you
4. Listen to your neighbour’s side of the story and acknowledge what they say
5. Suggest a solution – do you want them to lower the noise or change the time they make the noise
6. Be willing to compromise
7. Keep a record of your conversation/s while it is still fresh in your mind – this may be useful in the future
8. Consider dispute coaching or mediation by the Conflict Resolution Service (6190 7100). This service is free and confidential for neighbourhood disputes.
How is noise managed in the ACT?
Most noise concerns are short-term and can usually be resolved through discussion between whoever is causing the noise and the affected parties.
1. It is important you inform yourself on your rights and responsibilities regarding noise. Visit act.gov.au/noise for further information.
2. Discuss your noise concern with the person causing the noise. Many noise concerns can be resolved with a simple conversation. For tips on how to start the conversation visit act.gov.au/noise or if you need further help contact the Conflict Resolution Service on 6190 7100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
3. If you are unable to resolve your noise concern, you can lodge a complaint via act.gov.au/fixmystreet. Please note a complaint will only be considered if it is made by the person affected by the noise.
4. In the first instance a letter will be sent to the person making them aware of the noise from their house.
5. If the noise continues to be an issue, the matter will be investigated. Should the noise be found to be above the noise standards a warning letter, a fine or an Environment Protection Order (EPO) may be issued. Breach of an EPO is a serious offence and could lead to prosecution in court.
The Environment Protection Act 1997 (the Act) and the Environment Protection Regulation 2005 (the Regulation) aim to protect people from excessive noise.
The ACT noise limits or standards are detailed in Schedule 2 of the Regulation. The noise standards permit higher noise levels in industrial areas and much lower levels in residential areas.
Noise levels are measured at the boundary of the property emitting the noise. If the noise is coming from a unit (such as a flat or a townhouse) located within a multi-unit complex, the noise standard is 5 dB(A) lower.
Any noise generated within the common use areas of such complexes is a matter for the body corporate to deal with.
If a residence borders non-residential land (eg a residential block adjacent to local shops), or if it is located on non-residential land, diferent standards may apply.
Further information is available from the EPA by calling 13 22 81 or email email@example.com.