Reading time: 4 minutes

Excessive noise is a disruption that no one needs. If an individual or business has an issue with noise in their local environment, there are steps they can take to resolve the situation. This article discusses what constitutes noise and outlines how to make a formal complaint as well as the remedies available.

Types of Noise

The most common types of noise that warrant a noise complaint in both residential and commercial areas include:

  • Barking Dogs;
  • Noisy Vehicles;
  • Intrusive Alarms;
  • Noise from clubs and pubs;
  • Noise from domestic equipment;
  • Noise from industrial or commercial premises;
  • Garbage and bottle collection; and
  • Noise from construction works.

Making a Noise Complaint

Before going ahead and making any noise complaint, it is sensible that you try to resolve the situation by talking with the source of the noise. For example, if your apartment block neighbour likes to practice their drumming in the early hours of the morning at full volume, you could have a friendly conversation with them about the resulting noise.

If your noise issue involves a neighbour, you can also contact a Community Justice Centre. These centres provide free mediation to resolve neighbourhood disputes.

However, on occasion, a person might need to make a noise complaint to a government body or agency. These include the local council, the NSW Police and (for industrial noise and large transport vehicles) the Environment Protection Agency.

Local Council

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) (the Act) allows local councils to issue notices that require a recipient to control a source of offensive noise and which advises them what level of noise is permissible. A Noise Control Notice prohibits the occupier of premises or a person carrying on an activity there from causing, permitting or allowing a specified activity that causes noise beyond a specified level. The notice can specify particular days and times when the activity is permissible or ban it entirely.

Similarly, a Prevention Notice requires an occupier or individual carrying out an activity to do so in an environmentally satisfactory manner. This kind of manner includes not carrying out the activity or doing it in a particular way or with certain modifications.

Many local councils permit residents to make a noise complaint online. Before an individual does so, they should keep a log of the noise for approximately ten days to accurately record when it occurs and how long it lasts. The log can assist the council in advising the complainant and investigating the complaint. Be aware that many councils have rules about when noise can occur. For example, a car alarm typically cannot sound for more than forty-five seconds (unless manufactured before 1 September 1997). Knowing these rules will help a prospective complainant better understand their rights.

Typically, a person contacts the council with noise from domestic equipment, musical instruments, motor vehicles, traffic, construction and garbage collections.

For noise issues with pubs and clubs, you should get in touch with the government department responsible for issuing and managing liquor licences. For example, in NSW this is the Office of Liquor, Racing and Gaming (OLRG). Again, it is helpful to keep a log of the noise before contacting the OLRG.

Independent Legal Action

Individuals may have the right to seek a Noise Abatement Order or equivalent in their local court. In NSW, the Act permits people to ask the court to issue such an order when occupiers are subject to offensive noise. Noise is offensive in the following circumstances:

  • It has a strength, nature, duration, character or quality; or
  • Occurs at a time that is harmful to someone outside of the premises; or,
  • Unreasonably interferes with the comfort of a person outside to the premises.

While an individual can appear in court to make the application, they will likely need some professional assistance to understand the law and their likelihood of success.


If you have any questions about making a noise complaint, get in touch on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form below. 


Redundancies and Restructuring: Understanding Your Employer Obligations

Thursday 7 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

If you plan on making a role redundant, it is crucial that you understand your employer obligations. Our free webinar will explain.
Register Now

How to Sponsor Foreign Workers For Your Tech Business

Wednesday 13 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Need web3 talent for your tech business? Consider sponsoring workers from overseas. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Advertising 101: Social Media, Influencers and the Law

Thursday 21 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how to promote your business on social media without breaking the law. Register for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Structuring for Certainty in Uncertain Times

Tuesday 26 July | 12:00 - 12:45pm

Learn how to structure to weather storm and ensure you can take advantage of the “green shoots” opportunities arising on the other side of a recession.
Register Now

Playing for the Prize: How to Run Trade Promotions

Thursday 28 July | 11:00 - 11:45am

Running a promotion with a prize? Your business has specific trade promotion obligations. Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

Web3 Essentials: Understanding SAFT Agreements

Tuesday 2 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Learn how SAFT Agreements can help your Web3 business when raising capital. Register today for our free webinar.
Register Now

Understanding Your Annual Franchise Update Obligations

Wednesday 3 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

Franchisors must meet annual reporting obligations each October. Understand your legal requirements by registering for our free webinar today.
Register Now

Legal Essentials for Product Manufacturers

Thursday 11 August | 11:00 - 11:45am

As a product manufacturer, do you know your legal obligations if there is a product recall? Join our free webinar to learn more.
Register Now

About LegalVision: LegalVision is a commercial law firm that provides businesses with affordable and ongoing legal assistance through our industry-first membership.

By becoming a member, you'll have an experienced legal team ready to answer your questions, draft and review your contracts, and resolve your disputes. All the legal assistance your business needs, for a low monthly fee.

Learn more about our membership

Need Legal Help? Submit an Enquiry

If you would like to get in touch with our team and learn more about how our membership can help your business, fill out the form below.

Our Awards

  • 2020 Innovation Award 2020 Excellence in Technology & Innovation Finalist – Australasian Law Awards
  • 2020 Employer of Choice Award 2020 Employer of Choice Winner – Australasian Lawyer
  • 2020 Financial Times Award 2021 Fastest Growing Law Firm - Financial Times APAC 500
  • 2020 AFR Fast 100 List - Australian Financial Review
  • 2021 Law Firm of the Year Award 2021 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards
  • 2022 Law Firm of the Year Winner 2022 Law Firm of the Year - Australasian Law Awards