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Commissioners Corner – Hard Flooring Noise Transference – Practical Tips!

The issue of noise transference from hard flooring in apartments (like timber and tiles) is a common source of dispute.

Even when an occupier is using their lot for normal daily activities, inadequate soundproofing under their hard floors can have a significant and frustrating impact on adjacent lots.

Most bodies corporate have a by-law restricting noise likely to interfere with others. Also, section 167 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (the Act) prevents an occupier using or permitting the use of a lot or common property in a way that causes a nuisance or hazard or interferes unreasonably with the use or enjoyment of another lot or common property.

Some bodies corporate have by-laws placing specific restrictions on hard flooring.

As is the case with virtually all body corporate disputes, the very first step is communication.

Don’t, for example, assume that the occupiers of the lot in question are aware of the problem. They may in fact be oblivious to the noise they are causing (directly or indirectly).

So as a first step, look for ways to informally and non-confrontationally bring up the matter with the occupiers of the lot in question.

It might be there are some quite specific actions or times of day in which the problem is worse. If so, then there might be something quite practical the occupiers of the lot in question can do to reduce the impact of noise transference.

The body corporate could also consider communicating to all occupiers of the scheme their obligations regarding noise. Reminders of this type might go some way to ensuring that all occupiers of lots retain awareness of the impact of noise transference on other lots.

Beyond this, there are a range of practical actions that can looked at, including:

  • floor rugs and carpets, with insulated backing, in high traffic areas;
  • felt pads under furniture legs;
  • soft closers on cupboard doors;
  • removing shoes when inside the apartment, or at the least, trying to be more conscious about not wearing stilettos or other shoes with significant heels; and
  • minimising noisy activities, such as keeping the volume on televisions and stereos as low as possible and avoiding loud games. Occupiers who experience noise transference could also investigate whether there is any scope to install sound insulation on their side of the floor, ceiling or wall.

The Australian Government, as part of its information on environmentally sustainable homes, provides a range of information about noise, including what activities might result in different noise levels as well as information about building design to mitigate noise transference, at It is crucial that any lot owner who is considering replacing their flooring should firstly check their by-laws to verify what is and is not appropriate for their scheme. If a problem about noise transference cannot be resolved by any of the means outlined above, this may result in a dispute for the purposes of the Act and a subsequent dispute resolution application to my Office. Conciliation will be the first step in the vast majority of applications and then, if a resolution cannot be achieved by conciliation, an application for adjudication may be the result.


There are a range of factors that adjudicators will consider in a dispute about noise arising from hard flooring. For some examples of how adjudicators have previously considered such disputes, you might like to read the following adjudicator’s orders:

This is by no means an exhaustive list of such orders. In noise disputes, a report by an appropriately qualified acoustic engineer is usually considered necessary. The Building Code of Australia (BCA) establishes a minimum standard regarding noise transference between lots. The BCA criteria have been consistently held by adjudicators as an appropriate guide to the level of noise transference that is objectively reasonable. Further information is available at


Of course, adjudicators will consider whether any specific by-law requirements regarding hard floors were complied with and whether the complainants have followed the preliminary procedures for disputes about by-law issues. If an adjudicator finds unreasonable noise transference, they may require the lot owner to replace the hard floors with carpet or install greater levels of sound insulation under the floor. For further information about the body corporate legislation please contact our Information Service on Freecall 1800 060 119, or visit our website

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  1. Cameron McCall

    In a building where there is a mixture of holiday letting and permanent residents where the occupants of a holiday let apartments could be 50 different sets of occupants in any year it’s impossible to have any other solution than ban the hard flooring. It’s just not practical for the owner of the unit below to have a friendly conversation about behaviour with an occupant to have to do it again in 2 days time to a different occupant and potentially have to repeat the experience 25 times a year. Occupants are entitled to live there lives and wear shoes inside if they wish, holiday makers would be oblivious to noise transfer so it’s imparitive that the floor is properly insulated to a high standard or walk to wall carpet installed in all living areas.

    1. Chris Irons, Commissioner

      Hi Cameron and thank you for your comment. I acknowledge what you say here. If you require further information about how you might go about addressing these issues, I recommend contacting the Information Service of my Office on 1800 060 119 or

  2. Neil

    I agree completely with Cameron’s comment. A mixed use property needs to ensure compliance in its management of any development and modification to properties. It is too late to manage noise issues such as flooring transmission after a complaint is raised.

    1. Chris Irons, Commissioner

      Hi Neil and thank you for your comment. As per my response to Cameron, please contact the Information Service of my Office for further information about these issues.

  3. Liz Brumby

    Our building built in 1998 has 18 units (2xper floor) – 8 have tiled floors, 4 timber & 6 carpet. In 2009 a By-Law was added stating that a measurement of Lntw50 was required if installing a hard floor. This was naively copied from another building’s by-laws without any relevant knowledge. The existing units with tiled floors consist of tiles glued straight to the slab, ceilings underneath are just textured paint. An acoustic measuring company predicts that the sound level between those floors with tiles would register above Lntw 70. I have a carpeted floor but would now like to install timber flooring with all the appropriate acoustic materials now used, however companies advise that a measurement of 50 cannot be met – more likely 55-57. I am an active committee member, so to avoid a dispute battle, I have asked my 2 fellow committee members if when we are updating the by-laws could the BC get some acoustic testing done so that this by-law can then be made more reasonable and applicable to the building. One agrees and the other says I need to pay for this testing myself. As the best outcome measurement will become a by-law that affects everyone in the BC, and others wishing to change their flooring in the future, is it my responsibility? The timber floors already installed were done many years ago and may, or may not have the recommended acoustic material installed.
    I would appreciate your advice.
    Thanks, Liz

    1. Chris Irons, Commissioner

      Hi Liz and thank you for your query. I would recommend you speak with the Information Service of my Office on 1800 060 119 to get some further information about your query.

  4. lizH

    I installed timber flooring 18 months ago. Although it added 30% to the cost of the floor, I also installed sound insulation under the floor. The resident of the unit below me says he isn’t aware of any noise other than an occasional dropped item.
    Would it be feasible to include the requirement for sound insulation when installing hard flooring in BC by-laws?

    1. Chris Irons, Commissioner

      Hi Liz and thank you for your query. By-laws are legally-enforceable so this may be something best addressed by legal advice. Additionally, you may want to contact the Information Service of my Office on 1800 060 119 for further information.

  5. Munro

    Our building has a noise transfer problem between tenants of a different nature.

    The building is “mixed use” with commercial tenants at ground level and two floors of residential units above.

    One of the commercial tenants is running a licensed restaurant featuring live bands and vocalists. The noise from this creates a very noisy environment in the residential units above. There is kitchen noise as well at times. The problem is that the acoustics within the building were not designed to cope with this “clash of uses” and so there is no sound insulation separating the residential from the commercial below. It is just a concrete slab separation. The level of noise generated by the licensed premises is acceptable under its licence from the OLGR (which seems to have taken no account of the residential use on the floors above) so there is little redress available there..

    Advice on potential avenues of redress here would be welcome.

    1. Chris Irons, Commissioner

      Hi Munro and thank you for query. I would recommend you contact the Information Service of my Office on 1800 060 119 for some further information about your options.


    There is a Japanese shop in Cairns Central Shopping Centre which sells CHAIR SOCKS. A Japanese man told me about them. They are a bit like baby socks and the stretch nicely onto chair and table legs and it makes it very noise proof when sliding chairs in and out and also putting them up and down when cleaning. The Japanese man said that there was trouble with noise in apartments in Japan and this was a solution. Hope this helps. I think the shop is called Daisio?

    1. Chris Irons, Commissioner

      Hi Sonya and thank you for your comment. This sounds like it might be a useful solution for quite a few situations.

  7. Gerry Bowen

    Whilst I sympathise with the Commisioners Office dealing with these noise complainst I will say that the legislation is USELESS. Ban all hard floors other than wet areas.

  8. Kim

    We have just moved in to an apartment block and our upstairs neighbours have floor boards. The body corporate has admitted that the owners removed the carpet with seeking approval as is required under the scheme by-laws but they are not asking them to do anything about it. Last night we were kept up until after 2am as we can hear every footstep, door being shut, chair being moved or anything being dropped on the floor. We are full time workers so need to be up at 5am every day during the week. The current occupiers of the upstairs apartment are students and we have tried to communicate with them to keep the noise down after 10pm and be mindful of the noise in their lounge room (which is directly above our bedroom) but they do not seem to care. What do we do? We cannot continue to live on 3 hours of sleep a night and no one seems concerned about it.

    1. Kim

      Sorry I meant to say…the owners removed the carpet WITHOUT seeking approval!

      1. Chris Irons, Commissioner

        Hello Kim and thanks for your query. I would recommend you contact the Information and Community Engagement team of my Office on 1800 060 119 for some further information about your issue.

  9. Mary MacDonald

    I put in vinyl tongue and groove, floating floor in my upstairs unit. They poured a subfloor to even the existing subfloor out. It is much quieter than a hard floor. We here no noise from footsteps etc. But we do take our shoes off inside. There are so many products out that to choose from, its not just tile, carpet or wood. Our floors look great! Area rugs and felt under chair legs, and it is so much cleaner than carpet!