Loud noise not only affects your hearing, but also tends to raise your stress levels and can make you very tired and irritable.
We live in a noisy world and we're constantly bombarded by the sounds of traffic, ringing phones, blaring sound systems and supermarket music not to mention all the people talking to and around us. This is why so many people look forward to going home at the end of the day to their nice, quiet flat or townhouse.
"It is also why the reaction to inconsiderate neighbours who play loud music until all hours, test car revs in the driveway or let their dogs bark incessantly can verge on the homicidal," says Richard Gray, CEO of the Harcourts real estate group.
However, there are better ways to deal with the problem, and keep your blood pressure at normal levels, he says.
"To start with one must accept that if you live in a sectional title scheme, like a block of flats or a townhouse complex, you will encounter some noise when people go up and down the stairs, for example, or when they leave for work in the morning. You also need to be reasonable – one raucous party does not constitute a pattern of inconsiderate behaviour.
"But if there is such a pattern, your first step should be to approach the noisy neighbours - politely - and let them know that you can hear their TV/engines/dogs/screaming children and ask them to dial it down. Sometimes people are just thoughtless and don’t even realise that they are disturbing others and, if that is the case, your problem will probably be solved once they realise what they are doing."
If there is no response to your plea for more quiet, or you get a negative reaction, you should check whether your noisy neighbours are perhaps tenants and take the matter up with the owner of their unit who, as landlord, is responsible for ensuring that they keep to the rules of the complex.
However, if the neighbours are owners themselves you should make a second personal approach to ask them to reduce the noise levels and give them a copy of the relevant section of the conduct rules for your complex.
If you still have no luck after this, Gray says, you should let the trustees of the body corporate know you are having a problem, what you have done about it so far and that you need their help to deal with it. You may even find that the noise has also bothered other residents and that the body corporate is already planning action to get the matter resolved.
"But even if this is not the case you still have the option to go for arbitration as provided for by Regulation 71 of the Sectional Titles Act. This was specifically introduced in 1997 to create a forum in which disputes between the body corporate and an owner or between owners could be resolved without the necessity of a costly and time-consuming court action. And the decision of the arbitrator will be final and binding."