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With South Africa back in Adjusted Level 4 Lockdown as the country battles another surge in Covid infections and pressure on hospitals, more people are back to working at home. Not just now, but in fact since the onset of the Covid Pandemic in late March 2020, more people are home a lot more of the time.
According to the Seeff Property Group, there is a lot more activity closer to home which means more noise. The need to “stay home” means more entertainment is happening at home. With more people working from home, there might be more visitors and home deliveries are no doubt set to increase.
Neighbourhoods and even complexes might not be quite as peaceful as they used to be. Loud music, noisy get-togethers, barking dogs and cars in your driveway could be just some of the disturbances that neighbours need to deal with these days, says Seeff.
It is important to remember that Lockdown or not, the law still applies. Everyone has the right to enjoy their property without discomfort and you should not interfere with your neighbour’s rights, or you could face legal consequences, says Gerhard van der Linde, managing director for Seeff Pretoria East.
South Africa has a comprehensive set of neighbour laws which deal with property and neighbourly issues along with local municipal bylaws and regulations to regulate acceptable noise levels and so on.
What does work from home entail?
Working from home, especially in light of the Covid Pandemic, is generally not an issue provided there is no disturbance to neighbours. It, however, does not mean that you can bring your workshop or manufacturing business to your home, unless it is permitted by the zoning of your property and local municipal bylaws.
To encourage small business growth, the City of Cape Town for example permits small service businesses such as a bed and breakfast, hairdresser and the like within limits. Naturally, different rules apply to sectional title and estate property.
Basic rules around noise and neighbourliness
Reasonable noise such as gardening and building work is acceptable between 6am to 6pm and party noise to about 10pm on Friday and Saturday. Thereafter, party noise must be turned down, says Van der Linde.
Dogs may not bark incessantly. Speak to the neighbour, they may not even be aware of the problem, but if it persists, you can report it to local law enforcement.
Additional rules apply to complexes and estates
Van der Linde says part of the attraction of living in a sectional title complex or estate is that it is well-managed and hence often has stricter rules with regard to noise, parking and so on.
While the same rules and curfews regarding loud music and noise apply, each complex and estate will have their own Conduct Rules and property owners and tenants must adhere to these or face sanction. There is usually a process to deal with contravention, starting with a verbal warning, then a written warning and often, a monetary fine.
Generally start with a friendly neighbourly chat before escalating it to the management body or, as a last resort, going the legal route. If the problem persists, you must raise it with the Body Corporate and Managing Agents for action.
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