Offensive noise from tenants in holiday lets is a major problem for surrounding neighbours. The noise can damage the amenity of a minimum of five adjacent residences.
The NSW Protection of the Environment Operations Act (1997) provides a detailed definition for offensive noise. Summarised, it can be defined as any noise being emitted from a premises which disturbs the comfort or repose (rest or sleep) of someone who is outside the premises. This is designed for Police, dedicated EPA and local council officers as a guide and is in operation 24/7.
There is a problem in interpretation of offensive noise as the measurement by definition is a qualitative assessment. In the NSW EPA booklet ‘Dealing with Neighbourhood Noise’ it says ‘what is music to one person is noise to another’.
This qualitative assessment is likely to lead to dispute between holiday let owners/managers and affected neighbours about whether noise is offensive. Neighbours are often disturbed by loud music, yelling, screaming and shouting that comes from holiday let tenants.
The NSW DPE endorsed Holiday Rental Code of Conduct will become mandatory with the implementation of Byron Council’s holiday letting policy. A meaning for noise is provided in this Code. It says ‘noise means any sound that is offensive to occupiers of neighbouring properties’. Therefore, by definition it will be the neighbours that will judge whether noise from holiday lets is offensive.
In this age of technology accurate hand held noise meters are widely available and should be used. Justifiably and correctly, Byron Shire Council’s holiday letting policy has classified all holiday lets as commercial premises. Therefore, noise limits set for suburban areas as determined by the NSW EPA Industrial Noise Policy apply.
This policy is being used to monitor noise from concerts held at North Byron Parklands that assaults surrounding residential areas. A commercial shop located in a residential area will have noise limits applied as found in this policy.
For a residence in a suburban area during the day (7am to 6pm Monday to Saturday and 8am to 6pm Sunday and public holidays) the maximum noise level is 55 to 60 decibels (dB). For evening (6pm to 10pm) the maximum noise level is 45 to 50 dB and for night (remaining time periods) the range is 40 to 45dB. Measurements are taken at the boundary interface. A normal conversation is equivalent to 60dB.
Therefore, council should apply noise limits as determined by the NSW EPA Industrial Noise policy for all holiday lets. Council’s holiday letting policy is on public exhibition until December 4.