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The Environment Protection Act 2017 says it’s an offence to make unreasonable noise from a residence. A residential property includes: 

  • any land, building or outbuilding used in connection with a residence. This includes driveways, sheds and workshops

It doesn’t include land when construction, demolition or removal of a residence is being carried out, unless it is maintenance or repair of an existing building. Find out more about noise from construction, demolition or removal of a residence

When residential noise is unreasonable

Residential noise enforcement officers from your local council can investigate and decide whether noise is unreasonable. They consider:

  • volume and intensity
  • what the noise sounds like – its character
  • time and place  
  • circumstances 
  • how long the noise continues 
  • how often the noise occurs or whether the noise is unreasonable under the Environment Protection Regulations 2021.

Environment Protection Regulations and residential noise

The Environment Protection Regulations 2021 cover specific sources of noise. Listed in the Regulations as ‘prescribed items’, these sources of noise range from electric power tools through to air conditioners. The Regulations also list the prohibited times for noise from these prescribed items. Noise is unreasonable when it occurs during prohibited hours and someone in a habitable room in any other residence can hear it.

A habitable room is any room in the house except:

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

Residential noise could still be assessed as unreasonable outside the items and times in the Regulations by a Council residential noise enforcement officer.

Exceptions to prohibited times

The prohibited times in the Regulations don’t apply when using:  

  • equipment in an emergency   
  • your air conditioner during a Department of Health and Human Services heat health alert day

A noisy air conditioner may be unreasonable, even during a health heat alert, if a residential noise enforcement officer determines the noise is unnecessarily impactful.

Prohibited times for noise

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

Monday to Friday before 7 am and after 8 pm.

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

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

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

Monday to Friday before 7 am and after 10 pm.

Weekends and public holidays before 9 am and 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.
  • Electrical audio goods, including stereos, radios, TVs and public address systems.

Monday to Thursday before 7 am and after 10 pm.

Friday before 7 am and after 11 pm.

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

Sunday before 9 am and after 10 pm.

6
  • Electrical equipment (including gardening tools) not in group 2, 3, 4 or 5, and
  • not for personal care or grooming, or for food heating, cooling or preparation.

Monday to Friday before 7 am and after 8 pm.

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

Common residential noise issues and how the law applies to them

  • Noise from vehicles and the law

    Vehicle noise from extended idling or warming up on private property, or land connected to private property, can be unreasonable during these times: 

    • 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 the vehicle is entering or leaving a property. 

    Noise from vehicle maintenance and repair at your residence can be unreasonable. This includes noise from maintenance and repair coming from your garage, driveway or nature strip. For example, it may be unreasonable if it happens often or for a long time and disturbs neighbours. 

  • Noise from residential construction and the law

    The Regulations dealing with unreasonable residential noise cover repairs and maintenance to an existing building on residential land.

    Noise from construction, demolition or removal of a residence is managed through the general environmental duty and the general prohibition of unreasonable noise. EPA has given local councils powers to manage this type of noise. Some councils may use other powers like local laws.

    EPA has guidelines about managing noise from construction and demolition activities:

  • Noise from repair and maintenance of a residence

    The Regulations dealing with unreasonable noise from residential premises apply to the repair or maintenance of an existing residence.

    The Regulations prohibit noise from construction equipment, if neighbouring residents can hear it in a habitable room in their home, on:

    • weekdays – before 7 am and after 8 pm
    • weekends – before 9 am and after 8 pm. 

    This includes power tools and vehicles.

    Like other noise from residences, noise from home repair or maintenance may be unreasonable at any time. This includes if noise is too loud, continues for too long or happens too often. This law applies to builders, homeowners, tenants and tradespeople.

  • Noise from sanitary system pumps and the law

    The law on unreasonable noise applies when pumps from sanitary systems make unreasonable noise. Pumps from sanitary systems shouldn't make noise when installed the right way.
  • Noise from animals and the law

    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 in the house to let their animals make persistent noise that disturbs people. 

Reviewed 24 March 2022