What the Noisy Neighbors Law in South Africa says


A certain level of noise is an essential part of urban and peri-urban life and residents accept being regularly subjected to many sources of noise of different levels, including traffic, taxis, construction work and, quite often, their neighbors.

“In recent years the noise level has been exacerbated by the ongoing densification in cities, especially in the suburbs where new residential properties are being built and shopping centers expanded to meet growing demand,” said Yael Geffen , CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty.

“Not only are construction sounds more common, but properties are getting smaller and more people are living together nearby in apartment buildings and gated communities, which intensifies the noise level. device that we have to endure on a daily basis.

“However, there is a point where the noise can reach an unacceptable level and, although there is little we can do about the constant traffic noise, we have a remedy when the noise becomes unnecessarily intrusive and affects our law. to enjoy the ordinary comfort and convenience of our homes. “

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Eduan Milner, attorneys, notaries and transporters of Eduan Milner, said, “Nowadays there is more sensitivity and awareness regarding the negative impact of noise that exceeds specified levels and municipal regulations and environmental legislation include provisions to deal with breaches of noise regulations.

“However, it should be noted that South African law distinguishes between ‘disturbing noise’ and ‘nuisance noise’.

“The first is objective and is defined as a scientifically measurable noise level as a loud party where music is played at midnight at the volume where the lyrics are audible to neighbors, while the second is a subjective measurement and is defined as everything noise that disturbs or compromises the convenience or peace of anyone, such as the incessant barking of a neighbor’s dog.

Both are illegal within the meaning of the Environmental Protection Act, but, while the former is usually effectively dealt with by calling the police, the latter is not always so straightforward, the legal expert said. .

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“In order to demonstrate that a noise nuisance exists, a reasonable person must find some noise intolerable or seriously affecting his enjoyment of his property and that may be up to a court applying an objective reasonableness test,” Milner said.

“In residential areas, enforcement is carried out by local authorities and there are various penalties provided it is demonstrated that the noise actually exceeds acceptable levels. In general, the “culprit” will be asked to refrain from making noise and if he does not, other measures may be taken, such as fines imposed by the authorities or legal action brought by the. complainant.

However, this last step should be carefully considered and plaintiffs should ensure that they have all their ducks in a row as payment of costs usually depends on the outcome, with courts ordering the unsuccessful party to pay the costs.

Geffen said people should also be aware of any new zoning bylaws that may have been passed, especially if they are considering purchasing residential property in a mixed-use area.

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“It is always best to be aware of what is allowed in an area where you are looking to buy a property and to decide whether or not your needs and lifestyle may be affected.

“If you like to sleep at 9pm every night and appreciate peace and quiet, buying a house in bustling suburbs like De Waterkant in Cape Town or in the heart of Rosebank in Johannesburg is probably not a good idea,” Geffen said.

It’s also wise to look into a region’s subdivision and development laws and the prevalence of development in that suburb if living next to a construction site for a year would drive you crazy, Geffen advised.

“However, if investors like a property but are unsure of proximity to shopping, they should ask a local real estate agent who can enlighten them on the general tone of a neighborhood and what noise levels can be ‘expect.”

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