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Noisy or disruptive neighbours? Know your property rights

Where do you draw the line drawn between the sound of everyday living and a noise nuisance?

Unfortunately, we are not all blessed with the perfect neighbours who keep to themselves and give a gentle nod and wave as they pass by.

Instead, we’re in our homes complaining about the racket next door, the teenage house party, or the incessant barking of a dog.

Sound restrictions are enforced by Australia’s individual state and territories. Here we'll walk you through the rules and regulations for each area.

Noise restrictions in Victoria

The Victorian government has enforced time restrictions on noise within the domestic or residential areas.

Noise regulationProhibited times
Motor vehicles + lawn mowersMonday - Friday 8pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-9am
Electric power tools, compressorsMonday - Friday 8pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-9am
Heating and swimming pool pumps + vacuum cleanersMonday - Friday 10pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 10pm-9am
Air conditionerMonday - Friday 11pm-7am. Weekends 11pm-9am
Musical instruments, electronic audio equipment (stereos, TV, radio)Monday - Thursday 10pm-7am. Friday 11pm-7am. Saturday + Public holidays 11pm-9am. Sunday 10pm-9am

How do you resolve this?

  • If you are having issues with the ruckus caused next door, the highly advised first step, is to approach your neighbour about it. It is best to do this in person, in a calm and composed manner. Don’t just tell them to stop, but suggest they trim their hedges slightly later in the day, or stop their music earlier in the night.
  • If your neighbours are producing unreasonable noise, or noise outside out the permitted hours, you have the right to contact the local council or police. These authorities can direct noise offender to stop producing the noise for up to 72 hours. If your neighbour does not comply with the direction given by the local council or police, they are subject to an on-the-spot fine.
  • If your neighbour persists, the local council is obliged to undertake a noise investigation, where they can take necessary action in accordance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
  • The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria offers the free service of mediation to assist in resolving the issue between the two willing parties.

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Noise restrictions in New South Wales

Within NSW the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), alongside the local council and police, regulate noise. Neighbourhood noise is controlled under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (Noise Control).

Time restrictions are placed on loud items. The (sometimes uncontrollable) barking dog or other noisy family pet is regulated by the Companion Animals Act 1998.

Noise regulationProhibited times
Power tools, pumps (water and heating)Monday - Friday 8pm-8am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-7am
Music (or other amplified noise from an electronic device)Monday - Thursday 10pm-8am. Friday, Saturday, Sunday + Public holidays Midnight - 8am
Air conditionerMonday - Friday 10pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 10pm-8am
Motor vehiclesMonday - Friday 8pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-8am
Refrigeration (fitted to motor vehicles)Monday - Friday 8pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-8am

How do you resolve this?

  • Again, the first port of call is to address the issue yourself.
  • If there is a loud party that has exceeded the time restrictions, you have the right to call the police.
  • If the noise is produced from power tools or forms of machinery, you can contact either your local council or EPA.
  • Go to a Community Legal Centre to resolve the dispute through mediation.
  • If the matter has not resolved itself and you have taken the above measures, you can take the issue to the Local Court, or, depending on the circumstances, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
  • You can seek a noise abatement from the Local Court (for a fee).

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Noise restrictions in South Australia

Domestic noise within SA becomes an issue when it interferes with the livelihood of residents and their ability to enjoy their environment, either inside or outside their property. As noise is apparent in everyday life (the lawn needs to be mowed some time), there is no restricted level of noise, but can be subjectively assessed by local council or police if the noise becomes a nuisance.

If you refuse to reduce your noise after being warned by authorities, the maximum penalty for noise nuisance, regulated by the Local Nuisance and Litter Control Act 2016 (SA) is $10,000 for a natural person in a domestic setting.

Noise regulationRestrictions
Fixed domestic machinery (i.e air conditioners, pool pumps)Must not exceed 52 dB(A) between 7am-10pm on any day. Must not exceed 45 dB(A) between 10pm-7am on any given day.
Non-fixed domestic machinery (i.e lawn mowers, power tools, etc)Typically used for short period, and must not emit continuous noise. Must not exceed 60 dB(A) between 9am-8pm on Sundays, or between 8am-8pm on all other days. It is not permitted to use this type of equipment outside the permitted times.
MusicUp to the discretion of neighbours, police and local council. Music should generally not exceed 8 dB above background noise.

How do you resolve this?

  • Approach your neighbour about the issue.
  • If both parties are willing, seek Community Mediation Services.
  • If your neighbour is not complying with any request to minimise noise, document the noise disturbances. Be specific of when, for how long, how it impact on yourself, what measures did you take (i.e approached them, reported it to local council or police, etc).
  • If there is persistence noise from air conditioners, machines, power tools or other equipment within these categories, contact the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
  • If the noise sounds violent and threatening to any person’s safety, contact the police.
  • If the noise is pet related, contact the local council.
  • If the noise suggests abuse or abandonment of pet, speak to the RSPCA.

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noisy-electric-guitar

Noise restrictions in Queensland

There are set time restrictions on noise within Queensland, however a general guideline of under 40 dB of noise within residential areas is enforced.

Noise regulationRestrictions
Air conditionersMust not exceed 5 dB (A) between 7am-10pm, and 3 dB (A) between 10pm-7am.
Lawn mowersBetween 65-90 decibels
Sound amplifying device (speakers, stereos, etc)Prohibited between 10pm-7am Monday through Friday, and between 10pm-8am Saturday, Sunday and Public holidays.
PumpsMust not exceed 5 dB (A) between 7am-7pm, 3 dB (A) between 7pm-10pm, and should emit no sound between 10pm and 7am.
RefrigerationMust not exceed 5 dB (A) between 7am-10pm, and no more than 3 dB (A) between 10pm and 7am.
Tools, power tools, other machineryProhibited between 7pm-7am Monday through Friday, and between 7pm and 8am on Sundays and Public Holidays.

How do you resolve this?

  • Speak with your neighbour.
  • Notify your council. In accordance with the Environmental Protection Act 1994, the council has the authority to investigate noise complaints.
  • Seek mediation assistance from the Dispute Resolution Centre.

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Noise restrictions in Western Australia

The level of noise within Western Australia is regulated by the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997, under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.

Noise regulationRestrictions
Music (and other sound amplifying equipment)Can only be played (audible to neighbours) between 7am-7pm, Monday-Saturday. Is only permitted from 9am-7pm on Sundays and Public holidays.
Pumps (water, pool, spa, etc)Within daylight hours.
Power toolsAre not to be used between 7pm and 7am Monday- Friday, and not before 9am or after 7pm on Sundays.

How do you resolve this?

  • Try and settle the issue in a neighbourly passion.
  • If the problem persists, call the police or lodge a complaint with your local council.

leaf-blower-noise

Noise restrictions in Northern Territory

Within the Northern Territory, there aren’t as much time restrictions placed on specific noise-producing items.

Noise regulationRestrictions
Any domestic noise-emitting activityRestricted to the hours between 7am-7pm, Monday-Saturday, and between 9am-6pm on Sundays and Public holidays.
Music (incl. Musical instruments and sound amplifying devices)Allowed between the hours of 8am and midnight on Fridays, Saturdays, or any day before a Public holiday, and between 8am and 10pm on any other day.

How do you resolve this?

  • Discuss the issue with your neighbour.
  • If you have persistent issues with barking dogs, speak to your local council.
  • If noisy vehicles are becoming a nuisance, contact the Department of Lands, Planning and the Environment or the Motor Vehicle Registry.
  • If you are constantly disturbed by alarm, contact the Northern Territory Police.
  • If your neighbours are disrespectfully using any noisy domestic equipment (power saws, etc), contact the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

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Noise restrictions in Tasmania

According to EPA Tasmania, there is a ‘general approach’ to noise management within the state as; “a person’s use of noise-making equipment, as well as their recreational activities, must not unreasonably interfere with their neighbour’s wellbeing...to use both indoor and outdoor spaces on their property.” Despite this amicable approach to noise management, Tasmania still imposes restrictions on our noisy neighbours.

Noise regulationRestrictions
Powered garden equipment (lawn mowers, etc)Can only be used between 7am-8pm, Monday-Friday, between 9am-8pm on Saturdays, and 10am-8pm on Sundays + public holidays
ChainsawsOnly allowed to be used 1 day per week. On that given day, it can only be used between 7am-6pm Monday-Friday, between 9am and 6pm on Saturday, and between 10am and 6pm on Sundays and public holidays.
Music (and other sound amplifying equipment)Can be used between 7am and 10pm, Monday- Thursday, 7am - midnight on Fridays, 9am - midnight on Saturdays and between 10am and 10pm on Sundays and public holidays.
Motor vehicles and outdoor motorsAllocated times between 7am and 6pm, Monday - Friday, between 9am-6pm on Saturdays and between 10am and 6pm on Sundays and public holidays.
Pumps, compressors, cement mixers and other equipment of the like.Allowed to use between 7am and 6pm Monday through Friday, between 8am and 6pm on Saturdays and between 10am and 6pm on Sundays and Public Holidays.
Mobile machinery, forklifts, trucksAllowed to use Monday-Friday, 7am-6pm, on Saturdays between 8am and 6pm, and between 10am and 6pm on Sundays and public holidays.

Even if your neighbours are producing noise within the allocated hours, their noise can still be determined as ‘unreasonable’. Any noise produced from equipment that is not listed on the Noise Regulations Section 53 of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994 can be assessed as a nuisance. The noise will then be assessed on the volume, intensity and duration of the noise, the time and place it is occurring and the radius in which it can be heard by other residents.

How do you resolve this?

  • Speak to your neighbour directly on the issue.
  • Contact police or local council if the noise persists.

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Knowing the time restrictions on certain noisy appliances gives residents an awareness of when they can and can’t get out the chainsaw. It also lets you know your rights as a neighbour, and when you’re entitled to make a complaint about the all-night house party. It’s always best to keep the peace between yourself and your neighbour (because after all, you live next to each other), and address any noise-related issues as soon as they happen in a friendly way.

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