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Please help me with the best course of action. We live in an apartment bought off the plan. All the apartments had soft floors.
The apartment above removed the carpets and drilled the slab down to accommodate a timber floor.
We now hear furniture being dragged around as well as footsteps.
We were not informed this work was to be carried out and I understood that if work is carried out on common property (the slab) it should have been approved by a General Meeting.
If the floor had been installed according to the rules should we be ably to hear noise from above?
bella- I am not sure what you mean when you say that the slab was ‘drilled down’ to install timber flooring. What type of timber flooring was installed? Did the flooring have an underlay? Usually timber flooring is installed on top of another material (usually an acoustic underlay). I have not heard of the technique of ‘drilling down’.
With regard to installing or replacing wood or other hard floors this is deemed to be a ‘Minor’ renovation and needs approval by a general resolution (i.e. 50% of the vote) of the OC at a General Meeting. See Section 110 of the SSMA 2015.
The following conditions of Section 110 must be satisfied:
(a) details of the work, including copies of any plans,
(b) duration and times of the work,
(c) details of the persons carrying out the work, including qualifications to carry out the work,
(d) arrangements to manage any resulting rubbish or debris.
(5) An owner of a lot must ensure that:
(b) the minor renovations and any repairs are carried out in a competent and proper manner.
Owners and occupants must not cause a nuisance, and they must not interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of the owner or occupier of another lot.
The upstairs neighbour has breached the Act if they have installed a timber floor without the proper authorization by the OC.
If you can hear footsteps etc then the upstairs neighbour may have committed another breach of the Act – that of not carrying out the minor renovation in a competent and proper manner.
I would seek the assistance of the Office of Fair Trading in mediating this issue. At the very least you could be demanding that an acoustic sound test be carried out in your apartment at the neighbouring owner’s expense, with the expected outcome being that the timber flooring be uplifted and reinstalled with a better acoustic barrier being placed between the slab and the timber.
If you are unable to obtain a satisfactory resolution via Mediation then you have an option to seek an Order from the Tribunal (i.e. NCAT) to have the upstairs neighbour either: (a) reinstate the carpet, or (b) install a better acoustic underlay laid under the timber flooring.
The drilling I referred to was my inadequate way of describing that they used pneumatic drilling to lower the slab floor level to accommadate the thicknes of the sound membrane and the dark oak floating floor. I am concerned that the soundproofing material is obviously not adequate to stop the noise transfer or the reduction of the thickness of the slab has contributed to the failure of the soundproofing. I believe from reading the forum etc. that there are companies that will tell you anything to sell you a product and in this case may be the soundproofing is not up to scratch. I also wonder if the slab could be compromised as regards thickness etc.
bella – Thanks for the clarification.
You mentioned that the lots were sold off the plan…. Did the neighbouring owner undertake these renovations after the Settlement date on the property, or were these works carried out by the developer and/or building contractor at the request of the owner prior to the Settlement date i.e. was the owner’s purchase of the property contingent on the flooring being changed prior to Settlement? The dates on which this works occurred may make a difference as to who is responsible.
If the renovations occurred after the Settlement date then what you have described appears to be very unusual and appears to be another contravention of the Act by the neighbouring owner.
Alteration of the common property slab is a Section 108 issue and requires a Special Resolution by the OC at a General Meeting (i.e. 75% of the votes). It also requires the owner obtaining a by-law from the OC. The by-law must authorise the works, and should include an assurance that that the owner is responsible for repair and maintenance issues of the works.
I would be immediately notifying your OC in writing about the unauthorised work to the slab (i.e. a breach of [s108]), and the non compliance with the conditions in [s110]. Also the need for a structural engineer’s report, and an acoustic report.
I would also be seeking assistance from the Office of Fair Trading ASAP and raising all of your concerns regarding the breaches of the Act, and the requirement for expert reports (structural, and acoustic). Be prepared to take this matter to the Tribunal if necessary.
Lady Penelope, Thank you for your prompt responses, it is heartiening to have somebody share our problem.
We beleive the works were carried out long after settlement. We be;leive they also ripped out the brand new kitchen cabinetry and replaced it!
I will now look up the laws that you have mentioned and study them.
I have listened to Flat Chat on the radio for ages and am happy I have joined to Forum. I hope I can make a contribution.
It has been some time since I emailed but I have decided I now have to go to the Dept. Fair Trading.
I have typed out a complaint but if some way you could run an eye over it it may help greatly. I do not wish to put it here online as it contains names.
Is there any secure way I can send it to you?
The tiles do not form part of the slab. The slab is poured during the building’s construction and is structural. The tiles do not form part of the structural integrity of the building. The tiles sit atop the slab.
Replacing kitchen and hall tiles with timber would be deemed to be a ‘minor renovation’ under the Act and should have already been approved by ordinary resolution of the OC. Check your general meeting Minutes to find out whether approval has been granted. This area does not require water proofing.
Removing the tiles by the method that you have described is normal procedure.
It’s different in NSW. According to the “Who’s responsible …’ document
Tiles on a boundary wall or floor are the responsibility of the owners corporation. All other tiles are the owners responsibility.
The two exceptions are:
1. The tiles on the 2nd floor of a townhouse that was built prior to 1st July 1974. The tiles on the floor in this case are the Owners responsibility.
2. The tiles were laid by the owner and are subject to a bylaw
So while laying a timber floor is a ‘non-major’ renovation, removing the tiles first would require special resolution approval as it is changing common property.
There would be little to stop you laying timber flooring on top of tiles except you’d have to raise the bottoms of all your doors (including cupboards) and you’d have to pay careful attention to noise insulation as timber on tile would be like walking on a xylophone (at least, to the people downstairs).
Don’t try to do this on the cheap. You could end up paying more when you are ordered to remove the timber flooring or, even worse, reinstate the tiles.
After continuing obstruction and delays I finally offered to pay for an acoustic test to resolve the issue of noise transfer from the apt. above due to the installation of a timber floor replacing carpet.
This offer has been declined and the owner of the apt. above has refused access for a test.
The Strata Manager has offered to discuss the problem (I have been complaining for over a year) but I do not that he will answer the quiestions regarding legality of the floor and the by-laws breached.
Should I now take this matter to the Tribunal?
No surprise there – they have nothing to gain and everything to lose by helping you to prove your case.
The first step is mediation through Fair Trading (the upstairs people don’t have to attend but you do) and only then can you take the matter to the Tribunal.
Especially now that the upstairs neighbour refuses to cooperate, you should try to get some sort of objective sense of the noise at its worst, including sworn statements or just letters from neighbours and friends saying they have witnessed the noise.
Your noise diary will also be invaluable when they turn up at the tribunal with nothing to back their case, because they refused to cooperate.
The apartment above declined mediation and refused access for an acoustic test.
I am about to apply to the Tribuanl and I need to use the correct By-law numbers in my application.
Is the By-law for the loss of peaceful enjoyment (due to the noise) Section 232?And the By-law regarding the refusal of the Strata Manager to show records of the permission given By-law Section 188?
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