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Flat Chat

Sound and fury - signifying nothing

Some recent rumblings from Macquarie St should have us apartment dwellers pricking up our collective ears.

The first was the new neighbourhood noise laws that mean playing loud music after 10 pm at night is a no-no if it disturbs your neighbours - even in a free-standing home. At last, we may be spared the arguments of antisocial ignoramuses who proclaim they can play music as loud as they want until midnight.

Most apartments already have a form of legislation, in the shape of bylaws, to combat noisy neighbours. But the mythical midnight rule is trotted out with amazing regularity - often followed by "hey, this is the city, man", as if we should expect to be kept awake all night as a trade off for not having to drive 90 minutes to work every day.

But now suburbia is being brought into line with us forward thinkers in high-rises and townhouses. Maybe that will educate the future refugees from Picket Fence Land who think anything goes in apartments. But don't count on it.

The other big announcement was from our planning tsar (with ironically Stalinist tendencies) Frank Sartor who announced that illegal brothels would be driven out of business by having their electricity and water shut off.

Nice one, Frankie. Now we wait with (un)bated breath for you to apply the same sanctions to the illegal backpacker pads that infect our apartment blocks every summer.

Given that these overcrowded flats cause a lot more misery to a lot more people than a handful of houses of ill repute, we can only assume that fearless Frank is just working out the fine detail with our new Fair Trading Minister Linda Burney before announcing even more Draconian measures.

Or are brothels just a sexier (no pun intended) issue than people trying to live quietly in strata blocks?

By the way, Frank and Linda, If you're looking for an easy way to enforce sensible living arrangements, try the Scottish model where any rented dwelling with more than three unrelated tenants living in it has to have hotel standards of safety like fire doors, fire exits and so on.

It's simple and it works - so that pretty much guarantees it will never happen here.

First published SMH June 2007