WISE judge once said you have the absolute right NOT to buy into sectional title. The moment you do, you become subject to certain statutory restrictions of your freedom.
There is no doubt that there are certain personalities which are simply not suited to the sectional title lifestyle. They may have lived in a free-standing home and they are used to doing as they please. Disputes arise when they find out that those freedoms are curtailed.
Section 44 of the Sectional Titles Act states an owner may not use his or her section, or permit it to be used, in such a manner or for such purpose as shall cause a nuisance to any occupier of a section. Noise is definitely a nuisance.
Information detailed below has been extracted from the regulations under the Environment Conservation Act, 1989 (act number of 1989). The act recognises two types of noise.
Means a noise level which exceeds the zone sound level or, if no zone sound level has been designated, a noise level which exceeds the ambient sound level at the same measuring point by seven decibels or more.
Means any sound which disturbs or impairs or may disturb or impair the convenience or peace of any person.
Regulation 2(c) reads:
If a noise emanating from a building, premises, vehicle, recreational vehicle or street is a disturbing noise or noise nuisance, instruct in writing the person causing such noise or the owner or occupant of such premises from which or from where such noise emanates, to discontinue such noise, or to take steps to lower the level of the noise to a level confirming to the requirements with the period stipulated in the instruction.
Regulation 2(g) reads:
If the owner or person in charge of any animal fails to comply with an instruction referred to in paragraph (c), impound or cause to be impounded such animal.
NOISE – GENERAL PROHIBITION
Regulation 3(h) (ii) reads:
At any time on any Sunday, Good Friday, Ascension Day, Day of the Covenant and Christmas day, or any other day as may be determined by a local authority.
No person shall make, produce or cause a disturbing noise, or allow it to be made by any person, machine, device or apparatus or any combination thereof.
Regulation 5(c) reads:
No person shall allow an animal owned or controlled by him to cause a noise nuisance.
Regulation 5 (h) reads:
No person shall operate any machinery, saw, sander, drill, grinder, lawnmower or similar device in a residential area or allow it to be operated, if it may cause a noise nuisance.
Regulation 9 reads:
Any person who contravenes or fails to comply with a provision of regulations three, four or five shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding R20000, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years, or both such fine and such imprisonment, and, in the event of a continuing contravention, to a fine not exceeding R250, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 20 days, or to both such fine and such imprisonment, for each day on which such contravention continues.
SUFFERING WITH A NOISE NUISANCE OR A NOISE DISTURBANCE?
You need to complain in writing to the person causing the noise [read Regulation 2 (c)] and then if he or she does not stop within a stipulated period, lay a charge as per Regulation 9. YOU, the person who is suffering, must lay a charge with the police. Neither the trustees nor the managing agent can do this for you – the best we can do is to write a letter of complaint and hope the person making the noise will stop.
Les Reynard has been a managing agent for nearly 30 years. He is a member of the National Association of Managing Agents and a committee member of the Sectional Title Association of PE. E-mail him at Les@ReynardAgencies.com