Loud music, people coming and going, raucous conversations and noisy arguments. It can be a nightmare living next to inconsiderate neighbours who love an all-nighter.
When you’re renting an apartment, the behaviour of the neighbours can have a big impact on your sleep. There are a few steps you can take to attempt to solve the problem.
What to do about noisy neighbours
Often, people don’t realise how much sound can travel, particularly late at night. When caught up with their friends and after a few drinks too many, they may not know what a disturbance they are causing.
If your neighbours are reasonable people, they will hopefully respond to a polite request to be quiet. If you feel safe to do so, approach them and ask them to turn the music down or keep noise to a minimum.
Should the loud noise be a regular occurrence, it may make sense to arrange a time to have a conversation with your neighbour. Explain how the noise is affecting you and see if you can come to an agreement about the time of night when loud music will be switched off.
In the case of a noisy neighbour, the ACT government recommends acknowledging your neighbour’s perspective, being clear about what you have agreed on and keeping a record of the conversation you have.
If the party is a late-night drunken affair and you would not feel safe approaching the host, it is recommended you call your local police station.
If your neighbour isn’t interested in responding to your polite request for more quiet and you live in an apartment building, take a look at the strata by-laws. These should be included in your rental contract.
It is likely these laws will say something along the lines of:
‘The noise made by an owner or occupier must not interfere with the peaceful life of those in the rest of the complex.’
Your by-laws may have limitations around when music can be played or when noisy power tools or equipment can be used in the mornings.
If you’re certain your neighbour is breaking the by-laws, get in touch with your landlord or property manager. Make a note of the times and dates of the interruption and write down the action you took to ask them to be quiet.
Your rights as a tenant
When you pay rent, you are entitled to live in peace and comfort.
Following your complaint to your landlord or property manager, you may be asked to put something in writing. Ideally, this will be presented to the strata committee, which will formally request the noisy neighbour changes his or her behaviour.
Should the behaviour continue, the offending party can be fined by the strata committee, or evicted if they are renting the property.
If your landlord fails to act
A good landlord/property manager and a well-managed strata committee will take your complaint seriously and act on it in a timely way.
If you have an unresponsive or unreliable point of contact, you may wish to escalate your issue to Fair Trading. Fair Trading’s role is to help businesses to comply with their responsibilities in accordance with their industry, in order to reduce the likelihood of consumers experiencing difficulties.
Fair Trading will contact the person responsible for managing your property on your behalf to try to work out a solution for the dispute. If a solution is not possible, your situation may be escalated to the rental tribunal, where a judge will decide if your problem with a noisy neighbour has been handled correctly by your landlord.
In an ideal world, your property will be managed by a landlord and strata committee who completely support your right to have a peaceful home life. They will take on responsibility for enforcing noise control by-laws so you can sleep well at night.