Noise complaints in WA
You should first attempt to resolve any dispute with a neighbour by talking and trying to reach a satisfactory solution. After all, you may be living alongside each other for years to come and it is in both your interests to be on reasonable terms. The ten tips below provide some useful advice on raising issues and communicating with your neighbour.
Ten tips for discussing a problem with your neighbour. Assuming there is no threat of physical violence or verbal intimidation:
- Deal directly with the person you are in dispute with. This is usually far better than letters, messages, shouting, banging on walls, throwing things or talking to everyone else except that person.
- Plan a convenient, sensible time and place to talk to the other person. Bad timing can increase and escalate the dispute rather than diminish the tension.
- Think beforehand about what you want to say. It is important to be clear about what you think the problem is and how you feel about the dispute.
- Don't be too quick to lay the blame on the other person. Finger-pointing and insulting behaviour will cloud the issue and make it harder for the other side to actually take in what you are saying.
- Don't interpret your neighbour's behaviour. "You park outside our entrance deliberately to wind us up" sounds much worse than "parking outside our entrance causes a lot of inconvenience".
- Give your neighbour a chance to tell you their side of the story. Let them know you are listening to what they are saying even if you disagree with what they are saying.
- Let them know that you are pleased that you can get together to discuss the problem. This can help you both to feel positive and bring you closer to an agreement.
- Work on the problems co-operatively. See what you can both do to resolve the dispute. Two people working towards a mutual agreement can get a lot further than one person dictating to the other on how they should change or improve their behaviour.
- Bring all the issues out into the open. Take the time to work on all the issues involved. Make sure that the difficult ones don't get swept under the carpet.
- Look ahead.Agree to meet each other at specific future dates to check on how things are going.
Tips for discussing a problem if your neighbour complains to you:
- Try to understand their complaint. Noise can cause an upset reaction, so your neighbour’s approach might make you feel ‘put on the spot’ or exposed; stay calm and try to understand how your actions may be impacting on your neighbours.
- Be reasonable. Ask yourself whether your neighbour has a legitimate complaint and try to talk about the situation in a reasonable way.
- Stay on track. This is not the time to bring up other issues that might exist between you and your neighbour. Try to focus on the issue at hand and finding a way to resolve it.
- Apologise. It usually takes some courage to approach a neighbour about a noise complaint; be ready to apologise to them and tell them you appreciate them coming to you first.
- Tell your side of the story. If there is a reason you are making more noise than usual (for example: you are renovating, or you are teaching music from home, or you need to mow your lawn early because you have no other time to do it), explain that to your neighbor – people are more accepting of noise if they can see it is necessary.
- Work on the problems co-operatively. See what you can both do to resolve the dispute. This can help you both to feel positive and bring you closer to an agreement, e.g you may be able to agree on a time of day for the activity.
If talking doesn't work...
If your neighbour is unapproachable or denies a problem exists, mediation may be the next best option. Visit the Citizens Advice Bureau's website www.cabwa.com.au for further information on mediation services available.
Alternatively, for complaints about residential, commercial and small industrial noise issues, please contact your local council/shire office. Local government Environmental Health Officers administer regulations for these types of noise.
For complaints about noise from large industries or premises licensed under the Environmental Protection Act 1986, please contact your Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) regional office.
DEC surveys Western Australia's local governments periodically, asking them to track noise complaints and provide details in relation to activities that cause complaints. Copies of all Local Government Noise Complaint Survey Reports are available on the Publications page.