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New law to silence noisy residents

20 February 2013 Brendan Wong

The Victorian government has introduced new laws this week to allow authorities to enforce ‘noise bans’ of up to 72 hours.

Minister for environment and climate change, Ryan Smith, said strengthening the residential noise abatement directions given by police or councils would help many of the 770,000 Victorians affected by excessive noise each year.

“The longer duration of noise bans protect families and communities from the impacts of inappropriately loud music, power tools and machinery during unreasonable times,” he said.

“Previously, police or local council directions to reduce noise levels only remained in effect for 12 hours. The change in law will help police and councils enforce noise abatement more effectively and send a stronger signal to offenders that excessive noise is unacceptable.”

Mr Smith said it was hoped the law would reduce noise levels, change the behaviour of repeat offenders and also more effectively stop noise from re-occurring during weekends.

Leah Calnan, director of Metro Property Management in Victoria, told Residential Property Manager the practicality of the law was questionable.

“I think it could easily be manipulated if there’s a neighbour that didn’t like a resident or another neighbour in a tenanted property,” she said. “I’m wondering how the council is going to enforce it because it’s hard enough for the police to go out there and pursue a noise complaint.”

Ms Calnan said the law did not give property managers any more power apart from advising tenants to quieten down or serving them with a breach notice.

She added that there were aspects of the law that were ambiguous and difficult to define.

“What are ‘unreasonable times’? If I’ve got a newborn, eight o’clock at night is an unreasonable time in my world but that doesn’t stop my neighbour from mowing their lawn during the summer months up to nine o’clock.” 

A government spokesperson said the schedule of hours would vary depending on whether it was a weekday or a weekend and the type of equipment that was used.

He added that the law had and would continue to be enforced by police and authorised local council officers.

“They will have the discretion to simply issue a verbal warning, or request, or if they see fit they will be able to issue an abatement notice for anywhere up to 72 hours. The fine for failing to heed an abatement notice is $704,” he said.

New law to silence noisy residents
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