Noise By-Law Disputes & Self Resolution Options

October 26, 2022

Let’s not beat around the bush – sex is happening in strata, everywhere, right now. In bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens and on balconies. At all hours of the day and night. What goes on behind closed doors is none of our business – when it’s silent. But when its symphonic…

Consider this scenario: A young couple (aka the performers) check into their waterfront Airbnb apartment in Noosa on a breathless Spring evening. The first movement is a sonata that begins briskly as the performers scramble to disrobe. A series of percussive expositions as shoes are flung across the apartment and ornaments smash on the tiled floor as the conjoined couple attempt to navigate through unfamiliar surroundings to the bedroom stage.  The theme develops as new instrumentation is introduced – a bedhead being struck against a cavity brick wall resonates like a tympani in rhythmic unison with the whimpering falsetto of the soprano performer. An impressive accelerando and crescenshowcaseses the athletic stamina of the performers as the first movement eventually reaches its climactic conclusion with a timely bang, as artwork falls from the wall and smashes on the floor like orchestral cymbals. “Bravo” quietly sighs the bemused strata lawyer residing in the apartment below as he sits awkwardly on the couch with his smirking teenage daughter. By the fifth movement, the performance rivalled Richard Wagner’s 15-hour epic masterpiece, Der Ring des Nibelungen, much to the bemusement of the sleep-deprived audience.

So, what’s the solution to minimising the effect of noisy nymphomaniacs in strata? There are plenty of by-laws that attempt to regulate the duration and time of day during which occupiers may practise musical instruments in their lot. On that basis, a by-law requiring occupiers to refrain from engaging in fortissimo fornication between the hours of 10pm and 7am might be perfectly reasonable. But let’s face it, by-law enforcement is as reliable as the rhythm method. Speaking of timing, the adjudicator’s orders are currently taking longer than human gestation. So, assuming the performers’ rigorous and repeated pursuit of conception during their inaugural Noosa performance was successful, if we are lucky enough to obtain (what I’ll call) a “decrescendo order”, requiring future performances to be pianissimo, then it is likely the performers’ child will be born before that order is made. But the performers would likely be oblivious to those orders, since we are unaware of their identity and would have had to pursue the owners of the apartment in those proceedings, who, until receiving our contravention notice, would have been similarly oblivious to the use of their apartment as a performance venue. And how would the owners ensure their holiday guests comply with a decrescendo order? Hang a sign on the bedhead?

On paper, we appear to have an incredibly sophisticated and efficient dispute resolution system. But a brilliant musical composition is only as good as the orchestra performing it. In reality, the ineffectiveness of our dispute resolution system might cause the cynics and conspiracy theorists amongst us to suggest there’s some covert governmental initiative to force behavioural change at the societal level… if we underfund the dispute resolution system to ensure its inefficiency, the public will lose faith in the system and will be forced to put up with each other or take matters into their own hands…

It was that thought that crossed the exhausted strata lawyer’s mind as he was awakened by a second symphony that commenced shortly after 6 the following morning. He knew statutory dispute resolution proceedings could not stop the show, so it was time to take matters into his own hands (no, that is not a euphemism). There were two remaining options – self-help or confrontation. Ear plugs proved ineffective due to the high decibels and broad range of frequencies of the performance. So, in a moment of frustration, as the bedhead battered the wall with familiarly increasing vigour, the strata lawyer had a rare moment of clarity and yelled with all his might “Yeeeeeee Hawwwwww!!” like an excited spectator at a rodeo.  There was a brief fermata as the performers realised this wasn’t just an (un)dressed rehearsal – there was an audience who, on account of their enthusiastic applause, seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the performance. Stage-fright appeared to get the best of them and the second symphony ended prematurely. The strata lawyer bowed to himself in the mirror, gave himself a little wink and collapsed back into bed.

This article was contributed by Andrew Suttie, Nicholsons Solicitors 

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