Communal Living – What’s Not Okay?

Communal Living – What’s Not Okay?

As Australian capital cities continue on their vertical trajectory, more and more of us are adapting to apartment living. But living in such close proximity to our neighbours can create a noisy dilemma. In today’s blog, Think Property & Co delve deep into communal living and ask what’s really not okay when it comes to neighbourly noise.

The amount of noise disturbance you’ll experience as an apartment resident depends on how your building was constructed, where your apartment is placed, and ultimately, who moves in next door/downstairs/upstairs.

Common noise complaints in apartment blocks include late night music, screaming children, stomping feet, loud voices and any amalgamation of bumping, thumping and banging. So where do we draw the line?

Acceptable Noise vs Unacceptable Noise

Particularly in newer apartments, some construction materials lend themselves to noise transfer between apartments – yes, it’s a pain. Understanding what type of natural noise will travel in your building is the first step to deeming what’s acceptable.

In thinner walled buildings, it’s not uncommon to hear a murmur from next door during an argument, or a bump here and there when cupboards are opened and closed. It’s when noise goes beyond this natural volume or duration that things get complicated.

While closing a cupboard or running to the door in a rush may be a natural part of life, continuing to do so repeatedly may be concerning your neighbours – particularly those downstairs.

Timing Is Everything

Most apartment residents will agree that it’s when sleep is disturbed that noise really becomes an issue. Sure, banging and booming during the your favourite reality TV show isn’t ideal, but the real troubles come when sleep is interrupted during all hours of the night.

Whether you’re making the noise or you’re considering complaining about a neighbour, take note of the timings of your disturbances. After 7am and before 10pm is generally a reasonable time to be moving around your home, but if noise is keeping you up at night, you may have a case.

Note down the times noises are bothering you, to allow you to take a practical look at how much disturbance you’re really experiencing.

What About Noise From Children?

The rise of apartment living has left families behind. With few buildings designed to house multiple children, many parents are left feeling guilty about the noises traveling to their neighbours’ homes. The fact is, children are noisy – it’s establishing what is normal child noise and what can be prevented that’s the challenge.

If you’re a resident troubled by noise coming from nearby babies or children, you’re probably best placed having a friendly conversation with the family. Noise from children is often unavoidable, so making a formal complaint may only make tensions worse. If your sleep is being disrupted, investing in a quality pair of ear plugs may give you the relief you need.

Avoiding Noise in Apartments

When choosing to live in an apartment, noise may not factor into your decision making until it’s too late. Before you move in, consider the placement of the apartment and look into ways sound could travel. Older buildings with more solid brick walls may reduce the risk of sound traveling into your apartment, and choosing a top-floor property with nobody above you can minimise the chance of footsteps waking you on a Sunday. Also take note of how many walls are shared with other apartments. The more shared walls, the greater the risk of noisey nuisances.

Handling Noise Disputes

The first step in any noise complaint should always be to work it out between you. Formalising any issues can often make things worse, and if nothing else, make it very awkward in the hallway! Before you approach landlords, property managers or dispute resolution body, see what you can arrange yourselves, to save time and money down the line. If you can’t reach an agreement mediation or more serious action may be required to settle the conflict.

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