Timber floor by-law came 'too late' | Hard floors and tough decisions | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered


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Timber floor by-law came 'too late'
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12/02/2017 - 10:20 am
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Hi there, I’ve just read your article on timber floors.

I’m in a solid 1960’s red brick and concrete block in NSW. I’ve owned & lived in the building since 1999 (very contented) and so happy in fact, I bought 3 levels up, to get a better view.

Original floors are concrete slabs and have magnesite and carpet. Some owners have layed floorboards, which encouraged the BC to register a by-law, forcing owners to gain written approval, with a commitment to supply a high standard of floor insulation, prior to approval.

However, 8 months before the by-law was registered (it was in discussions for almost a year) my Neighbour above installed a floating timber floor. He removed the carpet, underlay and magnesite. I have photos as evidence. The noise transmission now is offensive and unbelievable! To the extent that I hear conversations, in the still of night. It is sending me insane!

The EC have stated it is not their problem, as the floor was layed prior to the new by-law registration. Is it true that a technicality allows an EC to wipe their hands of the situation?  To date, Nobody can provide me with written approval, which was a standard request prior to the new by-law.

A tenant occupies the unit upstairs. The owner resides off shore, and although he has since placed mats…he blissfully ignores the enormity of the situation.

To add to the torment, the tenants hours are not in sync with mine, so I am now wearing earplugs to try and block some noise, but the constant pace of shoes/heels at 11:30pm and 4:45am, on boards, is torture. This is during the week….weekends are 2am/3am pacing, from bedroom to bathroom to living room, in shoes!

I have notified the absentee owner, and asked for an acoustic report to be done in order for him to gain a true understanding of the noise transmission, but this was to no avail. He feels that his actions in placing floor mats & notifying the Managing agent will suffice. A few mats have not solved the problem. In a perfect world, a ruling for him to carpet the bedrooms would be helpful. 

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I really don’t want to have to go to fair trading or CTTT.

Cheers Mitsy

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12/02/2017 - 12:28 pm
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Mitsy said
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I really don’t want to have to go to fair trading or CTTT.

Unfortunately that’s the best and probably only relevant advice we can give.

You have a right to peaceful enjoyment of your home and that right existed before your neighbour removed the only effective insulation from his floor and before the by-law was passed.

The strata committee probably should be involved since common property has been damaged, but why fight two battles when you only need to fight one.

I would get your complaint into Fair Trading as soon as possible and I would make it about the removal of noise insulation rather than the installation of timber floors.

Look at it this way, you have no say in what this person puts on their floor as long as you are not affected by noise.  So what you want is for them to restore the same level of sound insulation as was there before by whatever means possible.

So that should be your case – restore the sound insulation to its previous levels. Don’t get hung up on whether it’s timber or tiles or carpet.  They removed sound insulation and they need to replace it with something equally effective.

Gather whatever evidence you can, including signed statements from friends and neighbours and keep a diary of all the noise and when it occurs.  

Also ask the strata committee to help (rather than take the case on themselves).  Try to keep them onside. It’s better to have willing support rather than an unwilling champion.

Perhaps they will permit your strata manager to advise you or issue a statement that the owner knew a by-law on flooring was imminent.  

You might quietly remind them that they have a responsibility to maintain and repair common property and the magnesite was important insulation. That is a technicality they can’t avoid so it’s probably easier for them to support you than take on the case themselves.

What you have in your favour is that the owner knew there might be an issue with noise which is probably why they jumped the gun on the flooring.

And they have shown that scattering a few rugs is inadequate.

Have a look at Section 153 (c) and possibly (a) of the Act (below), download your application for mediation to Fair Trading here, then start gathering your evidence and get the wheels rolling.

No one is going to come in and do this all for you.  But if you follow procedures, in a few months the only noise you hear from upstairs may be carpet layers putting down a new wall-to-wall. 


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), or
(c) use or enjoy the common property in a manner or for a purpose that interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of any other lot by the occupier of the lot (whether that person is an owner or not) or by any other person entitled to the use and enjoyment of the lot.

Lady Penelope

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12/02/2017 - 12:56 pm
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Mitsy – I agree with Jimmy T. It may be worth considering that perhaps the magnesite needed to be removed. Sometimes it can cause problems with the slab: 


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