Preventing neighbourhood noise

Neighbourhood noise, such as noise from alarms, noisy equipment and parties, can be very annoying. Find out how you can prevent noise from being an unpleasant issue and be a good neighbour yourself.

When noise annoys

If a source of noise is a problem for you, there are several things you can do.

Talk amicably to noisy neighbours

Often people do not realise how loud they are being and are happy to turn down or stop the noise.

Contact a Community Justice Centre

Community Justice Centres (CJCs) are government-funded but independent centres that specialise in settling differences between neighbours through mediation. You meet with the people who are making the noise and a CJC representative to try and solve the problem. This process will not cost you any money and has a high success rate.

Contact your local council

Under section 96 of the POEO Act, councils can serve prevention notices on residents and business people

  • requiring them to control offensive noise
  • advising them of acceptable noise levels

People who receive a notice can appeal against it.

Find out more about controlling noise from domestic appliances.

Seek a noise abatement order

If your neighbour is continually being noisy, has a noisy animal or is using noisy appliances, and you decide to take action independently, you can seek a noise abatement order under section 268 of the POEO Act.

Contact the EPA

The EPA is the lead regulator of noise from

If you are troubled by noise from these sources, contact Environment Line by phoning 131 555 or email info@epa.nsw.gov.au.

If you are disturbed by a particular incident like amplified music, contact your local council or police station. They can issue a warning or issue a noise abatement direction under section 276 of the POEO Act.

A noise abatement direction

  • directs a person to stop making the noise
  • may be issued at any time of the day or night
  • can remain in force for up to 28 days from the time it was issued
  • cannot be appealed against

The police and council authorised officers can

  • issue on-the-spot fines of $200 ($400 for a corporation) for non-compliance with the direction
  • seize equipment used to make noise such as a sound system in contravention of a direction

Find out more about preventing noise caused by

Noise from pubs and clubs

The Office of Liquor, Racing and Gaming manages noise from licensed premises such as pubs and clubs. When the Office licenses these premises, it may place environmental noise conditions on the licence, such as a requirement that the noise should not be heard inside any home between midnight and 7 am on any night.

Noisy domestic equipment

NSW Police or local council officers, can issue a warning if people are operating noisy equipment during restricted times.

Such equipment includes

  • power tools
  • sound systems and musical instruments
  • air conditioners
  • pool pumps or heat pump water heaters
  • lawn mowers and leaf blowers

An on-the-spot fine of $200 ($400 for corporations) may be imposed on anyone who continues to make noise up to 28 days after being warned to stop.

Under section 264 of the POEO Act, councils can serve noise control notices covering noise from animals and domestic appliances. The notice can require the noisy activities to be restricted to certain times of the day or certain days. If the notice is not complied with, the council can issue a fine or prosecute.

The Protection of the Environment Operations (Noise Control) Regulation 2008 specifies the times when noise from domestic activities should not be heard in a neighbour's home.

Time restrictions for domestic activities

Noise source - from residential premises

 

Time restrictions when noise should not be heard in a habitable* room in a neighbour's residence Contact

Power tools and equipment (powered garden tools; e.g. lawn mowers and leaf blowers; electric or pneumatic tools, chainsaws, circular saws, gas or air compressors and swimming pool or spa pumps)

Before 8 am and after 8 pm on Sundays and public holidays
Before 7 am and after 8 pm on any other day

Local council or police

Musical instruments and electrically amplified sound equipment (e.g. radios, TVs, tape recorders, CD and DVD players, and home theatre systems)

Before 8 am and after midnight on any Friday, Saturday or the day immediately before a public holiday

Before 8 am and after 10 pm on any other day

Local council or police

Air conditioners and heat pump water heaters

Before 8 am and after 10 pm on weekends and public holidays

Before 7 am and after 10 pm on any other day

Local council or police

Motor vehicles (except when entering or leaving residential premises)

Before 8 am and after 8 pm on weekends and public holidays

Before 7 am and after 8 pm on any other day

Local council or police

Refrigeration units fitted to motor vehicles**

Before 8 am and after 8 pm on weekends and public holidays

Before 7 am and after 8 pm on any other day

Local council or Police

 

* Habitable room means any room other than a garage, storage area, bathroom, laundry, toilet or pantry.
** This applies whether or not the vehicle is located on residential premises.
The penalty for breaching the legislation is $200 for individuals and $400 for corporations. The maximum penalty that a court can impose is $5500 for individuals and $11,000 for corporations.
Outside these hours councils and police can still place restrictions on the use of these articles if they are causing 'offensive noise'.

Find out who to contact for noise from different sources.

Noise can aggravate stress, particularly if sleep is disturbed, as fatigue can result in heightened sensitivity and irritability. Here are some things you can do to avoid annoying your neighbours:

  • Let your neighbours know in advance if you are going to be doing something noisy like having a party, doing building work or using a chainsaw. Most people appreciate the courtesy and will be less likely to complain. They can also make plans to get away from the noise.
  • Minimise noise when playing amplified music or using power tools and other equipment, even within the times permitted by the noise regulations. Remember, offensive noise can occur at any time.
  • Keep the noise in your backyard or on your balcony down, especially during the evening and at night.
  • Avoid revving your car's engine repeatedly when you turn on the ignition, remember to turn the car stereo down when coming home late at night and try not to slam doors.
  • Choose quiet models when buying equipment such as air conditioners, hot water heat pumps, pool pumps and rainwater tank pumps, leaf blowers, string trimmers, edge cutters and lawn mowers.
  • Think about your neighbours when installing equipment. Place air conditioners and hot water heat pumps away from your neighbours’ bedroom and living room windows or have the equipment acoustically shielded. For more information, see the Australian Institute of Refrigeration, Air-conditioning and Heating guidance: noise calculator.
  • Enclose pool and spa pumps to muffle the noise, and run pumps only when necessary within the permitted times.
  • If possible, use a broom or rake instead of a leaf blower. If you must use a leaf blower, don't start too early, use it for short periods, avoid revving it repeatedly and use it at around half the maximum power, as this is quieter but just as effective.
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