When anger rises along with the decibels at the rental property, resolving the situation can get a bit complicated. This is partly because the rules and regulations governing the landlord/tenant relationship have limitations which can pour oil on the fire of finding a peaceful solution. Baxton Property Management in Hobart looks at factors to bear in mind when things get noisy.
Taken at face value, the Residential Tenancy Act places emphasis on the tenant’s rights to “quiet enjoyment” of the property. This would seem to place the responsibility to deal with noise directly on the landlord’s plate, and he or she might be the first person tenants think to call if their neighbour is making a noise. But is it really within a owner or landlord’s power to do anything about it? And how could they go about it?
Caught in the Middle
The landlord is between a rock and a hard place in trying to deal with the situation. As much as the regulations protect the tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment, they also include measures to guard their privacy. These include controlling a landlord’s access to the property, effectively tying his or her hands when faced with a noise complaint.
If the noise is generated by a neighbour who is not also the landlord’s tenant, the landlord is powerless to do anything about it. And if there are two of his tenants having a disagreement over noise, the landlord or owner will have difficulty deciding which of his tenants should be supported in their position. The landlord may have difficulty finding proof because 24 hours’ notice would have to be given before going to the rental house to speak to the tenant accused of making a noise.
Without issuing that warning, he could be contravening tenancy regulations which govern such visits to the rental property. And after 24 hours the noise will have probably died down, and if it’s a one-off thing, like a noisy BBQ to celebrate a birthday, there will be a whole year before the next one.
When it’s Not a Once-off Thing
Sometimes it’s a continuing problem, like dogs barking all day while their owner is at work, a music scholar practising a loud instrument regularly, or a tenant mowing the lawn in the early morning. However, it is likely that if the landlord or owner visits the premises, the dogs would not bark, and the music scholar would have put down the instrument or stood up from the piano, to answer the door. The only chance a landlord would have of investigating, would be by spending lengthy periods parked outside the neighbour’s rental and listening for the noise. And how does that differ from infringing on a tenant’s right to privacy?
The Noisy Tenant Could Lose Their Home
At the same time, causing excessive noise also forms part of the tenants’ obligation to avoid “causing a nuisance”. This means that the landlord would be able to submit an application for a Notice to Vacate, effectively eviction, unless the tenant repairs the breach of the agreement by no longer causing a nuisance during the process. The owner also has to be pretty sure that the problem does exist, as Tasmania’s tenancy laws insist on a valid reason for terminating a lease.
Turning To the Council
At the end of the day, if the noise problem cannot be solved by communication with a neighbour, or a meeting between the landlord and his two tenants, the best recourse probably falls within the ambit of the Hobart council, and more specifically, Police Tasmania, which control noise pollution situations in the Tasmanian capital. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has set fixed times for noise levels being switched down or off. An upper limit of 55 dBA has been placed on the amount of noise allowed to come into one property from another.
When Quiet Must Prevail
Quiet times are applied to noise which is emitted from inside a room in one property that can be heard by someone who is in a room in another property. Weeknight noise restrictions start between 6pm and 10pm on weeknights, depending on what is causing the noise. The 6pm restriction is on chainsaws, stationery motor vehicles, motor vessels and outboard motors, as well as power and other noisy building tools and mobile machinery. Lawnmowers can go on cutting grass till 8pm and music lovers can continue to play their music till 10pm on weeknights, and till midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. Time to kick off again is at 7am on weekdays. Another two hours are allowed so people can sleep in on Saturdays till 9am, and on Sundays and public holidays, the limit of quiet time is extended till 10am.
After many years handling disputes between rental property owners and their tenants, or between neighbouring tenants, Baxton Property Management in Hobart does its best to resolve issues like noise complaints without it ending up in court. For them, dispute resolution forms part of the property management service. Contact Baxton online.
Written and syndicated by
– Baxton Media.
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