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Dear Strata Solve
It must be the season for renovations: our building is full of them at the moment. I know everyone wants to make the most out of their property, but the noise from it all is driving me mad. I work from home (so do a lot of the residents here) and have multiple Zoom meetings every day. Lately, I can barely hear myself or anyone else in these meetings due to the tradies, their jackhammers and the constant hammering and banging. Surely there are limits on this sort of thing?
Regards, Noisy in Newstead
You have our sympathies. Noise from your surrounds can be really tough to deal with, especially when you’re trying to concentrate on work stuff at the same time.
You are correct that people have a right to renovate their lots in a scheme. That said, that right isn’t absolute and unqualified. Owners and occupiers (and, depending on the situations, their invitees, such as tradies) are required to abide by by-laws and there are usually by-laws about noise. Sometimes there might be by-laws about renovations too, such as the removal of debris and rubbish and perhaps even times when work is permitted. You can request the body corporate enforce these by-laws, if they apply and if they aren’t already being enforced.
In a similar vein, there are provisions of body corporate legislation dealing with nuisance and hazard. Hazard has recently been in the news, with second-hand smoke being declared a hazard in a body corporate. Is renovation noise a hazard too? Maybe. It’s probably a nuisance (seems like it is to you anyway, if not to others as well).
All of the above are your formal options to deal with the issue if it doesn’t improve. That said, your first step should ALWAYS be to try to informally resolve things. Have you spoken with the neighbours doing the renos, letting them know of your issues? Is there, for example, a certain time of day you really need peace and quiet more than others? You could always put that specific suggestion to them and try to broker a bit of a plan. You might also want to speak to your neighbours to see if they are experiencing these issues: you might find you have support (or not) for your views.
Being in a body corporate is about give and take. Noise is one of those things where there has to be give and take: you can make some, reasonable noise, but it’s all about balance. Your first step is coming up with that balance – noting that owners do, as you say, have a right to do renose – and seeing if it can be informally achieved. If not, you have formal options to pursue things.
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