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In an apartment complex in Ultimo, New South Wales, a disagreement emerged between two lot owners. Ms Jiang and Mr Wang, who own Lot 27, raised concerns about noise from Lot 35, owned by Mr Xin Sui (Sui). This noise issue began after Sui renovated his apartment in 2021, installing new floating floors.

Main Concerns

  1. Did the new floors in Lot 35 violate the building’s rules about noise and floor types?
  2. Should Sui be asked to modify or replace the flooring to align with these rules?

Laws in Focus

The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (SSMA) is the law guiding this case. Additionally, the building’s own rules, especially By-Law 1 (about noise) and By-Law 14 (about floor types), play a crucial role. It is worth noting that in 2022, By-Law 14 was updated to include more detailed rules about floor noise levels.

How the Tribunal Saw It

The Tribunal looked at various pieces of evidence, including:

  • Sound tests
  • Past decisions related to similar issues
  • The building’s own rules

Some key points from their review

  • In 2021, By-Law 14 did not specify a noise level for floors. Its main goal was to prevent any floor noise that might bother other residents. However, the 2022 update to By-Law 14 set a clear noise standard for floors.
  • Sui shared a sound test report which showed his floors met basic Australian building standards. However, they did not meet the stricter noise standard set in the 2022 update to By-Law 14.
  • Sui pointed to past decisions where the main guideline was whether a “reasonable person” would find the noise disturbing, rather than focusing on specific noise levels.

The Tribunal’s Decision

The Tribunal decided that Sui had three months to either:

  1. Bring back the old carpet in Lot 35, or
  2. Modify or replace the floating floors to meet the strict noise standard set in the 2022 update to By-Law 14. He was also given an extra month to get a new sound test for the floors.
 What Lot Owners Should Remember

If you are planning to renovate, make sure you are familiar with your building’s by-laws. When it comes to noise, what counts is whether a “reasonable person” would find it disturbing.

As by-laws can change, it is essential to be aware of any updates, especially if they might affect past or future renovations.

At Pobi Lawyers, we frequently handle such strata disputes. Our team offers both advice and legal representation in the Tribunal. If you are facing a similar situation or need legal advice from a specialist strata lawyer, remember that we are here to help.


This commentary is published by Pobi Lawyers for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon as specific legal advice. You should obtain your own legal advice specific to your circumstances before you take any action or otherwise rely upon the contents of this article. The content of this article is subject to change.