Advice and Opinion

Noise in sectional title complexes can be a big problem

The question of what constitutes unacceptable behaviour in a multi-tenanted sectional title complex has once again been disputed in certain property media.

Schalk van der Merwe, co-franchisee for the Rawson Property Group’s Somerset West franchise, was asked to comment on a ruling by a body corporate in his area centring around a certain resident who was prevented from pursuing his hobby, carpentry, except in a very small window of time on Saturday mornings. The other residents apparently objected to his activities because although he has been working in a ground floor garage, his power tools have disturbed the peace.

Van der Merwe said that the Sectional Title Act stipulates that “an owner must ensure that his usage of common property does not interfere unreasonably with the interests or enjoyment of other persons lawfully occupying the premises, therefore, though it may appear to some, the man causing the noise is breaking the law by detracting from their enjoyment of the property”. The ruling of the body corporate was, therefore, not unfair.

“In any multi-tenanted complex,” said van der Merwe, “the great advantages – increased security, the possibility of enjoying a communal life and the lower purchase cost – are
balanced by certain behavioural restrictions and these, although seldom burdensome, are absolutely essential to keeping the peace among and promoting the enjoyment of the
residents.

”Usually”, said van der Merwe, “the complaints about other residents involve overcrowding (often only temporary) or noisy behaviour, especially late at night. It is sad that such an innocent activity as carpentry should be curtailed, but we have to acknowledge that power tools these days can be very noisy and disruptive. We can only hope that in time this resident does find premises where he can pursue his hobby to his heart’s content.”