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LawAccess NSW > Representing Yourself

​Noise restrictions

Most neighbourhood noise is regulated by local councils and police. Regulation may occur when the noise is "offensive" or a "nuisance".

Offensive noise is defined in the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 as noise that by reason of its level, nature, character or quality, or the time at which it is made, or any other circumstances is:

  • harmful to (or is likely to be harmful to) a person who is outside the place where the noise is coming from, or
  • interferes unreasonably with (or is likely to interfere unreasonably with) the comfort or rest of a person who is outside the place where the noise is coming from.

For example, a type of noise might be particularly disturbing because it is made during the middle of the night when people are usually sleeping.

Noise from barking or howling dogs is a common problem between neighbours. The Companion Animals Act 1998 regulates pet ownership and sets out when a dog or a cat is a nuisance by making noise.  A dog or cat will be a nuisance:

  • if it is persistently making noise, and
  • the noise unreasonably interferes with the peace, comfort or convenience of any other person in another premises.

In addition to offensive noise, there are some sorts of noise that have limits on when they can be heard from inside someone else's home. The table below lists these types of noise and the times when that noise must not be heard inside a neighbour's home. 

​Type of noise
​ Must not be heard

​Musical instruments and other amplified noise such as CD players and the television.

Between midnight and 8am (Friday, Saturday and any day before a public holiday).

Between 10pm and 8am every other day. 

Power tools and garden equipment such as lawn mowers and pool pumps. 

Between 8pm and 8am (Sundays and public holidays). 

Between 8pm and 7am every other day. 

​Air conditioners 

Between 10pm and 8am (Saturday, Sunday and public holidays).

Between 10pm and 7am every other day. 

​Cars on residential property (except when they enter or leave the property). 

​Between 8pm and 8am (Saturday, Sunday and public holidays).

Between 8pm and 7am every other day. 

Car alarms 

More than 90 seconds (for a car manufactured before 1 September 1997).

More than 45 seconds (for a car manufactured on or after 1 September 1997).

​Building intruder alarms 

More than 10 minutes (if the alarm was installed before 1 December 1997).


More than 5 mins (if the alarm was installed on or after 1 December 1997).

If noise is made that breaches the noise restriction, the council or police may issue a warning.

If a person breaches the noise restriction again within 28 days of the warning, they may be given a fine. If this happens to you, you should get legal advice.

For more information, see Making a noise complaint or Responding to a noise complaint.

Further information

Office of the Environment & Heritage- What times are residential noise restrictions in place?