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  • #53038
    Alex Young
    Flatchatter

    We have been living in the same unit for 1 year but never had noise issue before, until the new neighbours moved in about 2 months ago. Knocking sounds, stomps, drawer sliding sounds and heavy stuff hitting hard surface, all kinds of noises come to our unit through the ceiling, especially in the evening.

    We highly suspect they have replaced their carpet with floorboard, which under bylaw, needs strata approval and installation of special soundproof layer. I checked with building manager but they didn’t file floor work request with either building manager or strata.

    The only thing building manager did was sending someone to have a listen, which I don’t know from where, and told us they didn’t hear any noise so nothing they can do. They can only get into the unit above and check if they have evidence. And they can only come to our unit to have a listen during their working hours, when upstairs are normally not at home.

    We have bylaws about this, the first thing is to get the building manager and strata manager to act and check if the upstairs unit violated the bylaws. Even such simple thing seems to be so difficult.

    Please share your experience and advice with us. Anything will be very much appreciated.

Viewing 7 replies - 1 through 7 (of 7 total)
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  • #53455
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    It seems that unless by-laws are totally specific, we haven’t got much ammunition.

    Specific by-laws demanding a certain thickness or brand of insulation could be redundant in NSW, following the Court of Appeal’s ruling against by-laws banning pets.

    The gist of the ruling was that by-laws can’t force residents to do anything to pre-empt a problem that might happen.  You have to establish whether or not a problem exists and then deal with it using the available aspects of strata law.

    That would mean anyone can put down any flooring they like, but they should be aware that if it cause a noise issue, they could be forced to change it.

    #53414
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    I would be interested to know if these by-laws are similar to the average by-laws, or if your by-laws have stronger provisions in them.

    Every building, to some extent, has its own by-laws and enforces them to different degrees.  For future reference – e.g. when you try to get your block’s by-laws upgraded to be a bit more effective – my own building’s flooring by-law stipulates 11mm Regupol underlay between the timber and the slab. Others tend to set noise transmission standards and leave it to the owners to work out how to best achieve them.

    Unfortunately, your by-laws stipulate Australian Building Standards which, I have to say, are woefully inadequate and designed to make building apartments more affordable for developers rather than livable for residents.

    And just to be clear, other blocks’ by-laws are irrelevant to your situation.  You have to live with what you’ve got.

    So, assuming the flooring upstairs doesn’t meet even BCA standards, the relevant questions are:

    1. Did the upstairs owner get the required permission to lift the carpet and install timber flooring?

    2. If they did, was it to install flooring without insulation?

    If the answers to either of the above is “No” you can ask your strata committee to commence action to have the floorboards removed and relaid with appropriate insulation or the floor recarpeted.

    If the answers are yes, you can start action against the committee for breaching its own by-laws (assuming the sound insulation doesn’t achieve minimum standards) and the upstairs owner for breaching section 153 of the strata Act (below).

    There should be a written record of any correspondence with your secretary or strata manager, which you are entitled to see.  If they say this is  a matter between you and the resident upstairs (as strata managrs and committees often do) point out that the Act requires the owners corp to to enforce its by-laws – it is not optional and you can compel them to do so under section 232 (2) of the Act.

    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—

    (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.

    Good luck and brace yourself for the possibility of a long and bitter battle (especially considering the apparent selfishness and stupidity of your neighbour).

     

    #53412
    GBH
    Flatchatter

    It seems that unless by-laws are totally specific, we haven’t got much ammunition. I should have mentioned that I’m in the ACT and my relevant by-laws are:

    3 Noise
    We aim to provide an environment that will allow all occupiers the benefit of quiet enjoyment of their residence.
    Occupiers should be aware that noise penetrates easily into other units, particularly through balcony
    doors and windows.
    Occupiers and their visitors are required to ensure that they do not create any noise or disturbance
    likely to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of other occupiers. In particular, occupiers must:
    3.1 Take care to ensure that entry doors to the building, stairwell and your unit are not allowed to
    bang shut. This applies at all times, day or night, but particularly between 11pm and 7am.
    3.2 At all times and especially between 11.00 pm and 7.00 am, avoid causing any noise (music,
    television, loud voices, washing machines, dryers, spas, etc) at a level that may interfere with
    other occupiers’ quiet enjoyment of their unit.
    3.3 Ensure that social gatherings in units or on balconies, courtyards or common property, at any
    time of the day or night, do not cause noise that would interfere with other occupiers’ quiet
    enjoyment of their unit.

    and, approval of renovations:

    9 Alterations
    9.1 Renovations which may impact on any adjoining unit or the building façade or common
    property must be approved prior to execution with the written consent of the Owners
    Corporation or executive committee. All renovations must comply with Australian standards
    and the Building Code of Australia. Alterations requiring prior approval include, without
    limitation, the replacement of the carpet with hard floors such as timber or tiles due to noise
    considerations, the fitment of security screens to windows, the installation of double glazing,
    or anything that may affect the plumbing such as the installation of a new kitchen.
    9.2 In considering applications for alterations the Owners Corporation will take into account the
    quality of the flooring, the acoustic insulation, location of the unit and the qualifications of the
    installers.

    I would be interested to know if these by-laws are similar to the average by-laws, or if your by-laws have stronger provisions in them.

    #53411
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    One useful piece was a document “Acoustic-Ratings-Floors” giving comparisons between the acoustic properties of different floor treatments. Can you tell me the derivation of this document please? There’s a note at the bottom of Table 1 about the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants (AAAC). Did it come from them?

    OK, that post is more than 10 years old and the whole of strata law in NSW has changed since then.  But if you want to find guidelines, here is an informative document from the AAAC.

    Personally, I wouldn’t get too hung up on guidelines and tables.  There are several elements that contribute to noise transmission – the materials on the floor, the thickness and density of the concrete slab and the behaviour of the occupants (do they wear shoes indoors, or run around, or play loud music).

    It’s hard to say what the remedy in your specific situation is, except that the upstairs owner has left themselves wide open to action by you or the owners corporation.

    For a start, if they have in fact glued the floorboard to the slab, then they have interfered with common property and, as such,  probably required the written permission of the strata committee at the very least.

    There may be by-laws in your building related to what floor coverings are permitted and what aren’t.

    And even if they did get permission, and they weren’t in breach of the by-laws, it comes down to your fundamental right, enshrined in strata law, to the peaceful enjoyment of your lot.

    There was a time when the Tribunal might have ordered the upstairs neighbour to put down a few rugs to mitigiate the noise.  I doubt very much if they would do that now.  They are more likely to order them to recarpet or re-lay the floorboards with proper insulation underneath.

    All you have to do is prove that there is an unreasonable level of noise coming into your apartment because your upstairs neighbour has removed the only effective noise insulation and the next sound you hear could be sobbing from upstairs, interrupted by the sound of timber being ripped up from the floor.

     

    #53409
    GBH
    Flatchatter

    I have a problem with the owner above my unit replacing the heavy, sound insulating carpet originally installed, with timber flooring. The timber floor was glued directly to the concrete floor slab, with no underlay or insulating layer.
    I have derived a lot of useful information from your page “Timber and Tiled Floors”, dated 09/01/2010. One useful piece was a document “Acoustic-Ratings-Floors” giving comparisons between the acoustic properties of different floor treatments.
    Can you tell me the derivation of this document please? There’s a note at the bottom of Table 1 about the Association of Australian Acoustical Consultants (AAAC). Did it come from them?

    #53264
    challis
    Flatchatter

    First off commiserations…

    Have had similar noise issues with upstairs unit.,spa pump on 24/7 vibration sound.

    The occupant threatened me that if anything changes he will be after me.. owner is on owners committee.

    Strata manager reply was it’s a personal matter , and hung up…

    Sold up and moved on,

    5% of people are psychopaths,in a block of 20, there’s 1 lurking around.

     

     

     

    #53051
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    We have bylaws about this, the first thing is to get the building manager and strata manager to act and check if the upstairs unit violated the bylaws. Even such simple thing seems to be so difficult.

    Under section 122 of the Act, the owners corporation’s agents can enter a lot to see if work needs to be done on common property.  If the lot owner or resident refuses to let them, then they can seek orders at NCAT.  If they still refuse, and obstruct a valid NCAT order, they can be fined up to $5,500.

    So this is what a professional strata manager would do:

    1.  Approach the owner and say there seems to be a problem with the floor, which is common property and can we come and see if we need to fix it.

    2. If they refuse, the SM should commence mediation at Fair Trading with a view to getting NCAT orders, again on the grounds that there is a problem with common property and they need to see how it can be fixed.

    3. If that fails, then proceed to orders from NCAT.

    If there is a valid by-law in place about not lifting carpet, then the owners corp can proceed on that basis.  If they do have carpet but they are just noisy, then you as an individual can take action, although that is a lot trickier.

    I’d also be asking questions about the professionalism of your buildin manager or strata manager, if they weren’t able to offer that solution.

     

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