Victorian police attend thousands of homes to investigate complaints of excessive noise every year. The good news is that several laws protect Victorian residents, and, in serious cases, the courts will take action against offenders. Learn more about the laws a noisy neighbour can fall foul of, and find out more about the legal penalties he or she can face.

Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations 2008

In Australia, Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations restrict certain activities at antisocial hours. It's a criminal act to break these rules, and courts may fine offenders and place restrictions on their activities. Police officers can issue on-the-spot fines to anyone breaking the act.

Prescribed items under the Act include:

  • Motor vehicles, lawn mowers and other equipment
  • Electric power tools
  • Domestic air conditioners, water pumps and heating equipment
  • Musical instruments and stereo systems

In all cases, you can only use these items at certain times of the day, with tighter restrictions Monday to Friday than at weekends. You can make a complaint to your local council. For serious problems, you can also contact your local police.

Environmental Protection Act 1970

The Environmental Protection Act specifically prohibits certain noisy activities. Section 48a bans anyone from causing or allowing unreasonable noise from residential premises. What's more, the law also prohibits excessive noise from construction sites. For example, if a builder is working through the night and disturbing your sleep, you could take action against him or her for breaking this act.

It is ultimately up to the courts to define what is unreasonable. While a judge may consider restrictions under the Environment Protection (Residential Noise) Regulations, he or she will also take into account other factors. For example, a judge may decide that excessive noise during the day is in breach of the act.

Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008

Noise pollution can cause serious health issues. Indeed, the World Health Organization recognises seven categories of adverse health reactions that humans suffer from noise disturbance. For example, studies show that ongoing noise disturbances can increase the risk of heart problems.

As such, excessive noise could become a breach of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act, which applies to any nuisances that can cause danger to human health. The Act makes local councils responsible for dealing with complaints, and offenders can face penalties if they fail to comply with court instructions.

Common law

Common law prohibits people from causing a nuisance. In many cases, excessive noise would fall under this legal definition. As such, if your neighbour is noisy, you could consider taking legal action under common law. A court may decide to order the person to stop making the noise, and a judge may even order the offender to pay you compensation.

Noise pollution affects thousands of people in Victoria every year. While you can deal with many problems by talking to your neighbour, you may need to consult a solicitor such as Emery Linda & Associates Pty Ltd to help you tackle more serious cases.