Unless you live on a farm or a smallholding, far away from neighbours, you will probably have spent some sleepless nights listening to a thumping beat coming from a nearby house party.

Unfortunately, inconsiderate neighbours are something that most people living in flats, estates and complexes have to deal with. In addition, with more people working from home, noisy DIY projects and screaming children are becoming a new norm.

But what are your rights on the matter? Do you have to hope your neighbours outgrow the noisy stage - or simply move out?

Gunston Strandvik Mlambo Attorneys says dealing with noisy neighbours is easier than you might think.

Noise levels

South African law distinguishes between ‘disturbing noise’ and ‘noise nuisance’ - both of which are illegal in terms of the Environment Conservation Act (73 of 1989) and the Noise Control Regulations.

Disturbing noise is objective and is defined as a scientifically measurable noise level, for example, loud music.

Noise nuisance is a subjective measure defined as any noise that disturbs, compromises, or may disturb the convenience or peace of any person.

Examples of noise nuisance include:

  • Persistent loud talking.
  • A barking dog.
  • Operating a television set loudly or playing a musical instrument.
  • Operating machinery or power tools.
  • Operating a noisy vehicle.
  • Driving a vehicle on a public road in a way that causes a noise nuisance.
  • Discharging fireworks in a residential area causing noise nuisance.




As the first step, Gunston Strandvik Mlambo recommends that you attempt to resolve the issue with your neighbours in a friendly, amicable way. Raise your frustrations and concerns politely and try to find a solution to the problem without the need for external input.

If your attempt doesn’t work and the problem persists, submit a written complaint to your local authority. The authorities will investigate the issue and then decide on whether or not to instruct the neighbours to reduce the noise or issue a fine. They may even confiscate the offending equipment.

If this doesn’t work, and the noise persists, your next step would be to contact your lawyer. Your lawyer would then ask your neighbours to stop doing whatever is causing the noise. If this also fails, your lawyer will approach the court for an interdict to stop the noise disturbance.

If your neighbours persist despite the interdict, they may then be found guilty of contempt of court. The court may impose a fine or even imprisonment in serious cases.


Bear in mind the court will consider a number of factors in determining whether the noise disturbance is, in fact, unlawful.

Factors include:

  • The type of noise.
  • The degree of persistence.
  • Where the noise occurs.
  • The times of the day when the noise is made.
  • All efforts were made to resolve the matter.

If you wish to take the matter to court, you will need to satisfy the judge or magistrate that the noise has negatively impacted your quality of life, health, comfort and general well-being.

Courtesy of Sarah-Jane Meyer of Private Property



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