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Flat Chat

Noise: Shut the folk up

Noise in apartment blocks is one of the three major pains of strata living (along with parking and pets). But if you have a noisy neighbour, there's a couple of things you can do that actually work.

I was recently told by a member of senior management at the Office of Fair Trading that if you have a problem with a neighbour who is breaking by-laws (this includes any infringement, not just noise), you should ask your executive committee to issue a breach notice.

Then, if there is any repeat of the bad behaviour, they can go straight to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal and ask for fines to be imposed - no need to go to mediation.

That's a lot simpler than Fair Trading literature seems to suggest and your noise problem could be solved in weeks rather than months - or even sooner if the fear of a fine does the trick.

If your Executive Committee won't help, there is another way to curb frequent intrusive noise. You can apply directly to your local magistrate's court for a noise abatement order.

It will strengthen your case if you have witness statements, diaries of when the noise occurs, notes of calls to police, copies of letters to the miscreants and your Executive Committee and maybe even recordings of the noise.

If you get a court noise abatement order and the bad behaviour continues, your neighbours are breaking state law, not just a by-law, and it becomes a police matter. They could then be fined for breaching the order and contempt of court.

Getting back to internal Executive Committee breach notices for a moment, I have to confess that I may have accidentally misled readers in the past by saying the only recourse for complaints about their neighbours was via Office of Fair Trading mediation.

I'm happy to admit I misread Fair Trading literature and put it right. But how hard would it have been for someone in Fair Trading's education or media sections to let me know I'd got it wrong?

There's an email address at the bottom of the column every week and over a million people read Domain every weekend. Education? Media? Do I really have to join the dots for you guys?

First published SMH September 2007