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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.
The Victorian government has enforced time restrictions on noise within the domestic or residential areas.
|Noise regulation||Prohibited times|
|Motor vehicles + lawn mowers||Monday - Friday 8pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-9am|
|Electric power tools, compressors||Monday - Friday 8pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-9am|
|Heating and swimming pool pumps + vacuum cleaners||Monday - Friday 10pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 10pm-9am|
|Air conditioner||Monday - 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|
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 regulation||Prohibited 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 conditioner||Monday - Friday 10pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 10pm-8am|
|Motor vehicles||Monday - Friday 8pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-8am|
|Refrigeration (fitted to motor vehicles)||Monday - Friday 8pm-7am. Weekends + Public holidays 8pm-8am|
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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.
|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.|
|Music||Up to the discretion of neighbours, police and local council. Music should generally not exceed 8 dB above background noise.|
There are set time restrictions on noise within Queensland, however a general guideline of under 40 dB of noise within residential areas is enforced.
|Air conditioners||Must not exceed 5 dB (A) between 7am-10pm, and 3 dB (A) between 10pm-7am.|
|Lawn mowers||Between 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.|
|Pumps||Must not exceed 5 dB (A) between 7am-7pm, 3 dB (A) between 7pm-10pm, and should emit no sound between 10pm and 7am.|
|Refrigeration||Must not exceed 5 dB (A) between 7am-10pm, and no more than 3 dB (A) between 10pm and 7am.|
|Tools, power tools, other machinery||Prohibited between 7pm-7am Monday through Friday, and between 7pm and 8am on Sundays and Public Holidays.|
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The level of noise within Western Australia is regulated by the Environmental Protection (Noise) Regulations 1997, under the Environmental Protection Act 1986.
|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 tools||Are not to be used between 7pm and 7am Monday- Friday, and not before 9am or after 7pm on Sundays.|
Within the Northern Territory, there aren’t as much time restrictions placed on specific noise-producing items.
|Any domestic noise-emitting activity||Restricted 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.|
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.
|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|
|Chainsaws||Only 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 motors||Allocated 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, trucks||Allowed 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.
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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