You shouldn’t need to know how to soundproof a room just to escape your noisy neighbours from hell, no matter where you live in Melbourne. Put down the pitchfork, take a deep breath and follow these steps to banishing noisy neighbours forever. You won’t even need to get in touch with Today Tonight. After suffering endless impromptu dance raves at 4am from my neighbours, I’ve learnt that these are the best tactics to use…
1. Fight fire with fire
If your loud neighbours are only occasional offenders, or it’s just a low level of annoying noise; you might find a simple solution works well. Ear plugs are cheap and may be all you need to get a good night’s sleep, although they may work too well: you could sleep through your alarm. You could try the Sonic Bomb alarm clock which shakes your bed, but that’s possibly overkill…
Another solution which has worked well for me in the past is white noise. You could buy a pricey white noise machine, which usually sounds like the noise of a fan – this neutral noise can drown out the other more annoying noise and give you a decent night’s sleep. A cheaper alternative is just to use a household fan – direct it out of your bedroom if you don’t want to get too chilly!
If your laundry is located near your bedroom, try timing the usage of your dryer to when you need to sleep. The white noise from the dryer operating could be enough to drown out nuisance noise. Of course, if the noise is happening on an ongoing basis, time to progress to…
2. Talk to them
At the risk of sounding obvious, the next best approach is actually to have a friendly conversation with your neighbour. Don’t feel anxious – they may not even aware they’re disturbing you. It’s surprisingly easy to underestimate just how far the bass from a powerful subwoofer can travel!
Open with a friendly conversation. You may end up making a neighbourhood friend out of the whole incident, rather than entering a massive dispute with neighbours. The Victorian Government’s Disputes website has some helpful tips on how to approach your neighbours.
Of course, this may not go as well you hope. It’s time to…
3. Bring in the law
EPA Victoria has strict noise pollution laws for different types of noise. Loud music is probably the most common complaint – this should be turned off before 11pm on Friday and Saturday, and 10pm on all other evenings. Motor vehicles and power tools have much stricter hours, so inform yourself with what’s allowed under the law.
The next step? Find the number for your local police station. Don’t call 000, you dork – although it’s annoying, it’s not a life-threatening emergency. This is also a good opportunity to start keeping a diary of all noise and the actions you’ve taken – it could come in very handy later if you need to take things further.
If the local police give your neighbours a warning, and the noise continues later on, call the police again. After an initial warning, the police can then fine your neighbours if the problem continues. Hopefully this is enough to scare them into silence.
4. Organisations who can help
The next step is to take your noise pollution complaint to an external body. You have quite a few options for assistance – try these in the following order:
i) Give your local council a call. Every local council in Melbourne has slightly differing noise pollution laws, but they’re particularly helpful if you’re dealing with barking dogs.
ii) Call your real estate agent. It’s highly likely that your lease has a condition that the landlord provides you with a reasonably quiet place to live. This can work really well if you live in an apartment building – it’s common for real estate agents to manage adjoining apartments, so they may be able to deal with the troublemaker directly and evict them if necessary.
iii) Contact Consumer Affairs Victoria and make a noise complaint.
iv) Contact the Tenants Union of Victoria. They’ll provide you with impartial, practical advice on what to do next.
Otherwise, it’s time to…
5. Take drastic action
Here’s a little-known secret: many home insurance policies include a clause that allow you to take legal action against your neighbours at no personal cost, if it improves the value of your property. Give your insurer a call to see if they can help out.
If you’re still having problems at this stage with noise complaints, you’re probably more than willing to move out of your property. If you’ve kept a diary of all the actions you’ve taken above, you will have very few problems exiting your lease without penalty, especially if you have a “reasonable peace and quiet” clause. Refer back to the Tenants Union of Victoria for help in this situation.
What other, er, non-violent methods have you used to manage noisy neighbours in Melbourne?