Section 48A of the Environment Protection Act 1970 makes it an offence to cause ‘unreasonable noise’ from any residential premises. Residential noise may be unreasonable at any time of the day, depending on its volume, intensity and duration, and the time, place and other circumstances in which it is emitted.
The Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 2008 list specific types of equipment and times their use is prohibited. The times depend on the type of equipment being used and the day of the week; however, some equipment may still be too loud even when used during the appropriate times.
If your neighbour turned on a radio after 10 pm on a weeknight and you could hear it – and it bothered you – it would be considered unreasonable noise. If your neighbour turned on the radio at 10 am it may not be unreasonable noise, because people are generally awake at that time. It could still be considered unreasonable if it was excessively loud or continued for too long.
The brochure Annoyed by noise? (publication 406) has good advice on how to deal with unreasonable noise from neighbours.
Residential construction noise
The provisions for unreasonable noise also apply to residential premises and apartments under construction. Residential construction equipment such as jackhammers and power tools are covered by the prohibited times in the Regulations.
Noise from equipment used in normal working hours and other site activities such as early-morning site preparation might also be unreasonable in some cases; for example, noisier equipment used at an inappropriate location or time, such as early in the morning. In these cases contact your local council to report the noise.
The Residential Noise Regulations have special provisions for some types of large-scale residential construction. These enable greater work flexibility, while still protecting amenity in residential areas.
The Noise fact sheet has more information on EPA’s role in regulating noise pollution. See Guidance on noise issues for business and industry for more detail.
The Domestic Animals Act 1994 covers noise from dogs or cats. A dog or cat can be regarded as a nuisance if the animal creates a noise that persistently or continuously disturbs a neighbour. Barking dogs can also be considered unreasonable noise under Section 48A of the EP Act.
Ongoing issues should be reported to your local council. If the council determines there is a nuisance under the Animals Act, they can give a notice to the owner to prevent he nuisance or can issue a fine for the offence. Court action is also available in some cases.