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The Noise Regulations and the Environment Conservation Act regulate the amount of noise you and your neighbours are both allowed to make. You may find this Act by clicking here: The Environment Conservation Act
What is Considered A Noisy Neighbour?
Your neighbour has the right to undisturbed use and enjoyment of his/her property. However, this right can be limited if it becomes a nuisance to surrounding neighbours.
There is a distinction in our law between
a) a disturbing noise
This is an objective noise which can be scientifically measured.
An Example of a disturbing noise is a loud braai next door with loud music and shouting.
b) a noise nuisance
This is a noise that disturbs or impairs you subjectively.
An example is a dog that will not stop barking, loud machinery or a loud motorbike that is constantly waking you up at night.
What Can I do?
If you are facing a disturbing noise from a neighbour, the first step would be to kindly request your neighbours to tone it down to an acceptable level. If this does not work, a quick call to the South African Police Service(SAPS) will usually be enough.
If you are facing a noise nuisance, you can take the following steps:
- report to your local authority- your neighbour may be asked to reduce the noise level, pay a fine or remove the source of the noise.
- apply to the court for an interdict (a document that will instruct your neighbour to stop the noise.) The court will consider facts like the time the noise occurs and the efforts your neighbour has made to reduce the noise level.
The Court will also consider whether you are not overly sensitive and whether any reasonable person in your position would be affected by the noise too.
- sue your neighbour to compensate you for any loss you have suffered as a result of the noise. For example, if you lost income because the noise was too much for you to work.
- if your neighbour continues even after the interdict, your neighbour may be forced to pay a heavy fine or be imprisoned for contempt of court (which means ignoring the orders of the court.)
A fine for violating Noise Control Regulations can be up to R20 000 or imprisonment for up to 2 years.
We hope this has been as useful as it is simple.
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