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Noisy Tenants – What can we do?

By February 3, 2018 No Comments

It’s unheard of to work as a property manager without receiving complaints about noisy neighbours.

Noise complaints cover a wide spectrum of grievances, from dogs barking, to party noise at 3am, to a TV being up too loud.

Unfortunately, there is no one answer in how to deal with tenants who are frustrating their neighbours. It is also important to know that a property manager is not responsible for the actions of a tenant, and are not obliged to take action because a complaint has been made. However, when we receive these complaints— we do approach the situation with a plan.

Firstly, whatever the situation may be, we will generally advise the complaining neighbour to attempt self-resolution. If the two parties can talk it out and arrive at a solution amongst themselves, all the better. Remember—as property managers, we aren’t obliged to get involved.

If the neighbour and tenant aren’t able to reach a resolution amongst themselves, the local council can step in. This is the point at which things can enter a grey area. When living in a rental property, tenants are obliged to not disturb the peace, comfort or privacy of their neighbours. In other words, the neighbours are entitled to ‘quiet enjoyment’. Note that ‘quiet enjoyment’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘not noisy’.

For example, many people would say that a dog barking is grounds for a complaint. However, most councils (including Moreton Bay and Logan) suggest that, for example, a dog occasionally barking when someone walks by the fence is not unreasonable, and not grounds for a complaint.

Similarly, party noise at a rental property is not unusual, as long as the noise is kept to an appropriate level and subsides at a reasonable hour. The context of the event must also be considered—a New Year’s party that goes until 2am is not unreasonable.

If a resolution can’t be reached, the property manager can request a format complaint form. If the property is part of a Body Corporate, then the tenants are likely breaching complex by-laws, and should be reported to the Body Corporate for further action.

It’s also useful to remember that if the noisy neighbour was not a tenant, but an owner/occupier, there would be no recourse through an agent or the RTA, and the issue would need to be settled between the neighbours.

Handling noise complaints is a tricky issue at the best of times, as there is a lot of variance in the interpretation of terms like ‘reasonable’ and ‘excessive’. In these matters we place a strong emphasis on self-resolution, as quite often, the issues can be resolved by the two parties talking it out.

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