Loud music, late night parties, deafening machinery and noisy air-conditioning units or pool equipment are all examples of what may be noise pollution. Noise pollution is one of the single biggest causes of tension and arguments between neighbors.
Noise pollution can lead to a loss of amenity, loss of concentration, it can effect your mood and have a profound effect on a persons well being.
The Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with formulating policies to prevent and control noise pollution. However it is Victoria Police and your local Council that is then responsible for the implementation and enforcement of those policies. The Environmental Protection Agency does not possess to investigate residential noise complaints.
Noise pollution is defined as being ‘unreasonable noise. As such it is an offence to cause ‘unreasonable noise’ from a residential premise.
As this is a subjective and not an objective definition, it means different things to different people. Unreasonable noise to one person may not be unreasonable noise to the next.
In order to determine if the noise is in fact unreasonable, the following factors amongst others will provide some guidance:
- The volume
- The intensity
- The time it is occurring
- How long it occurs for; and
- The place where it is occurring.
Additionally certain specific types of equipment are prohibited from being used at certain times and days of the week.
If you are experiencing unreasonable noise, the very first step to resolving the matter is to talk to your neighbor. In most instances your neighbor may not even be aware that they are causing a problem.
By speaking to your neighbor, the matter will likely be resolved to the satisfaction of both parties without the need for expensive and time consuming litigation, that may create further issues between the parties.
In those rare instances in which talking does not resolve the issue, further action can be taken through the police and you local Council.
In instances of loud noise or parties and the like, the Police are ideally placed to respond. If your neighbor is threatening, the Police should also be contacted.
However if the unreasonable noise issue is more systemic, the matter should be reported to your local Council. Your local Council must investigate any complaint received in respect of noise. An Environment Health Officer will conduct an investigation which may include listening to the noise, measuring it and then making a determination if it is unreasonable or not.
At the conclusion of that investigation the Council will either take action itself to control that unreasonable noise or advise that the matter should be settled privately and recommend how best to do so.
The Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria can also be used to provide third party meditation between the parties. The service is free and confidential but relies on both parties being open and receptive to the mediation process.
As always this article contains general information only and should not be relied on for detailed advice related to your particular circumstances. Should you require such advice, please contact your lawyer.