Dealing with noise in a sectional title scheme

Dealing with noise in a sectional title scheme

Private Property South Africa
Lea Jacobs

Although living in a sectional title scheme has many benefits, living in close proximity to others can pose challenges.

Sectional title living has many positives including a safe environment, amenities that the homeowner doesn't have to maintain and in many cases, the opportunity to be part of a closely-knit community. Unfortunately there’s also a downside – people who live in close proximity can get on each other’s nerves and this can lead to a great deal of unpleasantness.

The first thing that needs to be recognised is that your neighbours are probably going to annoy]2 you at some point. Whether it is crashing and bashing around in the middle of the night, throwing regular and noisy parties, or simply playing their radio at full volume, there will come a point when it all just becomes too much and something gets said.

Also read: Noisy neighbours: know your rights

There's nothing wrong with complaining about an issue that's truly getting under your skin, but there are ways to ensure that the situation doesn’t turn into open warfare.

Firstly you need to ask yourself if you have a valid complaint and even if you feel you do, does the situation really warrant instant action, should you just learn to live with it, or should the response be postponed until you've calmed down? Obviously something needs to be said if the noise wakes you up or prevents you from falling sleep, particularly if the neighbours make a habit of being very noisy. In these cases it may be a good idea to have a quiet word about the noise levels the next day as opposed to storming into the neighbour’s home straight away and demanding the music be turned down. People who have been drinking can often not be reasoned with and may deal with issues differently than when they are sober.

It's not pleasant hearing people argue, but leaning out of a window and screaming at your quarrelling neighbours to shut up probably isn't going to help. Angry people don't respond well to interference and the situation could possibly be best resolved by leaving a polite note pointing out that you don't enjoy being privy to the couple’s domestic problems and asking for a little consideration.

What we’re trying to say is don't make mountains out of molehills, thus possibly making a bad situation worse. Most people are reasonable and how you approach the situation will often directly impact on the end result. We all get het up and very often it's the little things that irritate us the most. We also tend to allow things to build up until we explode with anger. Although some behaviour will always be unacceptable and will need to be dealt with, be sensible and pick your battles.

Remember, for instance, that children at play are noisy (ask any anyone who lives next to a family with a two year old), but expecting a parent to keep a child silent all day is unreasonable and could lead to a breakdown in relations. Tolerance is key and while there may well be times when action has to be taken, adopting a live and let live approach wherever possible is going to make life easier for all.

Tips for dealing with noise issues:

  • Don't act on impulse. Calm down before approaching the transgressor.

  • Don't become petty by reacting every time your neighbour makes a noise. Be reasonable and only complain if and when absolutely necessary.

  • Talk to or write to the neighbour directly and only approach the body corporate if the response to your complaint is not satisfactory.

  • If you do write a letter of complaint to the body corporate, don't get personal and be sure to indicate the times and dates the transgressions occurred.

  • If the matter doesn't get resolved, raise the matter at the next body corporate meeting.


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