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The Environment Protection Act 1970 says it’s an offence to make unreasonable noise from a residence.

Noise can be unreasonable if a neighbour can hear it in a habitable room of their home. A habitable room is any room in the house except:

  • kitchens
  • pantries
  • bathrooms
  • toilets
  • laundry rooms
  • storage areas.

The Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 2018 cover specific types of noise (prescribed items) and times noise is unreasonable (prohibited times).

Find tips on dealing with residential noise in Annoyed by noise? (publication 406)

Restricted times for noise 

Group Prescribed items Prohibited times
1
  • Motor vehicles (but not when entering or leaving a site).
  • Lawnmowers or other grass-cutting devices.
  • Any equipment with an internal combustion engine not in group 2.

Monday to Friday before 7 am or after 8 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am or after 8 pm.

2
  • Electric power tools, chainsaws or circular saws.
  • Gas or air compressors.
  • Pneumatic power tools, hammers or other impacting tools or grinding equipment.

Monday to Friday before 7 am or after 8 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am or after 8 pm.

3
  • Home heat pumps.
  • Swimming pool, spa or water pumps except when used to fill a heating header tank.
  • Home heaters (including central heating and hot water systems).
  • Vacuum cleaners.

Monday to Friday before 7 am or after 10 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am or after 10 pm.

4
  • An air conditioner, evaporative cooler or split system used for cooling.

Monday to Friday before 7 am and after 11 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am and after 11 pm.

During a heat health alert, you can use your air conditioner at any time.

5
  • Musical instruments.
  • Electric audio goods, including stereos, radios, TVs and public address systems.
  • Water pumps being used to fill a header tank (e.g. collecting river or bore water, or moving water between two tanks)

Monday to Thursday before 7 am or after 10 pm.

Friday before 7 am or after 11 pm.

Saturday and public holidays before 9 am or after 11 pm.

Sunday before 9 am or after 10 pm.

6
  • Electrical goods not in group 2, 3 or 4, including gardening tools.
  • Not equipment for personal care or grooming, or for food heating, cooling or preparation.

Monday to Friday before 7 am or after 8 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am or after 8 pm.

Residential noise can still be unreasonable outside these times. Other types of residential noise can also be unreasonable, even if they aren’t in the Regulations.

Investigating officers from your local council decide if noise is unreasonable. They consider:

  • volume
  • source and intensity
  • time and place
  • circumstances
  • how long the noise continues. 

Noise from animals

When animals disturb neighbours with noise, local council officers can use the Domestic Animals Act 1994 to investigate or prosecute. This includes noise from barking dogs.

It’s an offence for the person living there to let their animals make persistent noise which disturbs people.

Noise from vehicles

Vehicles aren’t allowed to make unreasonable noise on private property:

  • Monday to Friday before 7 am and after 8 pm
  • weekends and public holidays before 9 am and after 8 pm.

This doesn’t apply when they’re entering or leaving a property.

Noise from residential construction

The law on unreasonable noise also applies to:

Equipment like jackhammers and power tools are included in the restricted times for noise. Even during normal working hours, noise from construction may still be unreasonable.

Site preparation – such as moving materials before 7 am weekdays or 9 am weekends – would likely be unreasonable if it was loud enough to disturb neighbours. If you're planning construction work, you should talk to your neighbours first.

You can report residential construction noise to your local council. 

Noise from sanitary system pumps 

The law on unreasonable noise applies if pumps from a sanitary system make unreasonable noise.

Pumps from sanitary systems shouldn't make noise if they're installed the right way.

More about residential noise

About residential noise

Reduce noise from your home

Noise and your health

Residential noise and EPA’s role

Report residential noise  

Reviewed 30 April 2020