Hear every footstep from upstairs | Hard floors and tough decisions | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered


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Hear every footstep from upstairs
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27/03/2017 - 4:27 am
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My husband and I purchased an off-plan apartment and moved in last year, everything seemed perfect at the beginning. Then my upstairs neighbour installed timber flooring in the entire apartment and our nightmare started.

Prior to the installation, they hired an acoustic engineer to conduct a test in my apartment. Based on the test, the hard flooring they installed complies with the bylaws-4 stars rating, so strata approved it. However, I can hear every footstep and some appliances working ( fan or humifier) as long as they are home. What's worse is that they have very odd routines. During daytime the noise is bearable, but we can hear them walking around and appliance working in both bedrooms constantly between 11pm - 4am. A few times their footsteps actually waked us up around 2 or 3 am. 

We first brought this matter to the building manager, he told us nothing he could do. Then we wrote to strata manager, she said this is not a strata issue as long as the flooring above complies with the bylaws. 

We talked to upstairs neighbor, a young couple, they were shocked that we could hear them. They said they did not do anything out of ordinary and promised they would try to keep it done. Yet we can still hear them walking around 11pm - 4 am and their darn appliance working.  

These constant noises make my insomnia a lot worse and I feel so helpless. They are a young couple and kids will make it a lot worse in the near future. Considering the real estate price nowadays, we can't afford to move out or sell it right away. Even if we do, I'm worried it may not be easy to rent out or sell this apartment because of the noise. 

Can anyone give us any advice in regarding to the noise? 

Lady Penelope

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27/03/2017 - 10:24 am
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Wendy - If the flooring in the upstairs apartment is compliant there is nothing much that you can do apart from attacking the problem from your side of the floor/ceiling slab. If you are worried about the quality of the upstairs acoustic report then you can you carry out your own acoustic testing to verify that it complies.

Can you speak to an acoustic engineer ... perhaps there is something that can be  applied to your own apartment interior to dampen the noise? Foam ear plugs that you change frequently to prevent ear infections may also help. 

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27/03/2017 - 11:04 am
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I'm intrigued as to what appliances they are using in their bedrooms?!

Seriously, without meaning to be trite, have you suggested to them that they use rugs on the floor?  I've had this problem before and laying down rugs, especially in the high-traffic areas like hallways and lounge rooms, can make a difference.  I hope you find a solution soon, I can imagine how frustrating it is.

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27/03/2017 - 12:57 pm
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Wendy said
We first brought this matter to the building manager, he told us nothing he could do. Then we wrote to strata manager, she said this is not a strata issue as long as the flooring above complies with the bylaws. 

Both of these "experts" are wrong, at least to some extent. Section 153 (below) says owners are not allowed to create a nuisance.  Now, that is not just something that is annoying - it's something that is injurious to your health.  

You could put up a pretty compelling argument that being kept awake at night and disturbed during the day is injurious to your health.

There's also a very good chance that you have in your by-laws a variation on the one that says residents can't disturb other owners peaceful enjoyment of their lot.

Also, you have to consider the possibility that the by-law on flooring that you have in place is inadequate or defective, or that the flooring was installed in a way that didn't actually meet the requirements of the by-law.

So for anyone to say that you can't do anything if the neighbours have fulfilled the requirements of the by-law, misses the point.  If the insulation is inadequate, for whatever reason, then the by-law is irrelevant.

However, if your upstairs neighbours have been misled by the Owners Corp by an inadequte by-law, they could have a claim against the owners corp. The OC has a "duty of care" to maintain common property (the slab) and this sounds like a failure to do so.

To be fair, this is not as clear-cut as if your upstairs neighbours had ignored the by-law. And if you want to pursue it you would be well-advised to get professional legal advice form an expert strata lawyer.  It could be a tough fight

But I don't think you (or indeed your upstairs neighbours) should have to suffer because either the by-law is flawed or the installation was not done properly.

Try to keep them onside as they have tried to do the right thing and a united front is more likely to succeed against an OC, building manager and strata manager who are determined to take the easy way out at your cost.


153 Owners, occupiers and other persons not to create nuisance
(1) An owner, mortgagee or covenant chargee in possession, tenant or occupier of a lot in a strata scheme must not:
(a) use or enjoy the lot, or permit the lot to be used or enjoyed, in a manner or for a purpose that causes a nuisance or hazard to the occupier of any other lot (whether that person is an owner or not) ...


Model by-laws: 6 Noise*
An owner or occupier of a lot, or any invitee of an owner or occupier of a lot, must not create any noise on a lot or the common property likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot or of any person lawfully using common property.

* Your by-laws may be different

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27/03/2017 - 3:02 pm
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There is one other aspect to this which has been alluded to in other posts and that is largely behavioural.

Putting some sort of insulation under the appliances in the bedroom should make a difference, as would taking their shoes off when they come home.  This may seem alien to some but it's standard practice in Asian homes.

A mediation with your neighbours would allow you canvas the issues with them before you go down the road of legal action, and you can ask your strata committee to organise this for you. 

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29/03/2017 - 4:50 am
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We have had three wins at Fair Trading/NCAT by going through their mediation process and arguing the right to peaceful enjoyment, rather than right to have non-carpet flooring. On all three occasions we obtained recommendations/orders to have flooring removed and reinstalled.

The key component that led to our wins was utilising a simple noise test (walking around in high heels, dropping keys, moving furniture), witnessed by independent persons (non neighbours, building management, committee members), making a report and going from there.

Needs the cooperation of all parties, but if cooperation is not there I think you will find that would be looked on unfavourably by Fair Trading/NCAT.

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