The noise rules that South Africans living in complexes and estates should know about

 ·20 Mar 2021

Being a good neighbour means enjoying the comfort and convenience of your home without interfering with your neighbours, and vice versa.

Neighbour disputes are common, often relating to things such as noise, parking and encroaching trees.

Good neighbour relations are the starting point to resolve issues, but failing that, you may need to resort to legal action, said Gerhard van der Linde, managing director for Seeff Pretoria East.

South African neighbour law is comprehensive due to the scope of disputes, and works in conjunction with various laws and municipal bylaws, he said.

“Before acting though, it is important to know what is reasonably permissible. Each municipal area usually has regulations in terms of noise tolerance and pollution.

“While freehold property owners need to handle matters themselves, sectional title complexes and estates usually regulate this in their Codes of Conduct.

“This generally starts with a friendly neighbourly chat before escalating it to the management body or, as a last resort, going the legal route.”

Van der Linde said that reasonable noise such as gardening or building work is generally acceptable between 06h00 and 18h00, and party noise to about 22h00 on Friday and Saturday.

Incessant noise pollution such as barking dogs can be reported to the local municipality for action. If a neighbour refuses to turn down late-night music or party noise, you can report it to local law enforcement, he said.

Private rules 

Van der Linde said that complexes and estates are generally stricter with regards to noise compared to normal residential neighbourhoods.

Part of the attraction of living in a sectional title complex or estate is that it is managed and better controlled, he said.

Although the same rules and curfews such as the 22h00 curfew for loud music applies equally to estates and complexes, the consequences are different.

“Estates and complexes differ from each other in terms of the rules of conduct which will be found in the Body Corporate or Homeowners Association Rules.”

He added that property owners and tenants in complexes and estates are obliged to adhere to the respective rules of conduct and occupancy.

“Generally, there will be a process if there is a consistent contravention of the conduct rules, starting with a verbal warning, followed by a written warning and then, especially in upmarket estates, a monetary fine.

“Buying or living in a complex or estate means that it is expected that occupants will be courteous and with no excessive noise. Excessive noise can be seen as the disturbance being heard outside of one’s private area. In extreme cases legal action can result.

“In student accommodation, rules around noise restriction may apply, especially during exam time for instance. So every complex may have its own rules.”

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