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Curfews & Noise Control

Curfews & Noise Control

Sometimes police officers, with the support of community groups, decide to stop young people from being in the streets after a particular time of night. This is called a curfew. Curfews generally aren’t legally enforceable, because not letting you be in public places at certain times just because you’re a young person would be discrimination based on age. The police need some kind of legal authority to tell you where you can and can’t be, and can’t just decide themselves that they don’t want you to be out in public unless you’re in an unsafe environment.

Noise control happens when a household makes too much noise and it’s affecting neighbours’ ability to peacefully enjoy their home.

What is a curfew?

Sometimes police officers, with the support of community groups, decide to stop all young people from being on the streets after a particular time of night. This is called a curfew. Curfews don’t happen very often and you will probably hear about the legislation or regulations being made in the news if it is the case.

What can the police do if I’m out at night in a region with a curfew?

The police are allowed to talk to you and warn you about any dangers of being out late. If you’re under 18, they can contact your parents expressing concern about you.

If you’re under 17, and you’re drunk or the police are worried about your safety, they’re also allowed to take you home or to a youth residence or shelter. You can find out more about this on our questioning section.

The police aren’t allowed to arrest you or take you anywhere else just because you’re out after a police curfew time. You should always stay calm and polite, but you can tell the police that you don’t want to go to the station with them. If they force you to go with them, it’s not a good idea to fight back or to run away.

You’re best to wait and make a complaint afterwards.

What can I do if my neighbour makes too much noise at night?

Everyone has a right to enjoy their property in peace, it’s against the law to make ‘excessive noise’ that interferes with other people’s peace, comfort and convenience. What is ‘excessive’ might be different in different contexts. For example, loud machinery noises might be OK in a commercial area during working hours, but not in a residential area at 2:00am. Most complaints are to do with loud parties, loud animals and machinery usage.

You can make a complaint if you think your neighbour is making excessive noise.

My neighbour has rented out their place, and now their tenants make a lot of noise at night, what can I do?

If your neighbours are tenants, you can complain to their landlord. It is one of the tenant’s responsibilities under the law to not disturb their neighbours. The landlord can serve them with a notice that gives the tenants 14 days to fix the behaviour, and if they don’t, the landlord can then take them to the Tenancy Tribunal.

If your neighbours are renting a Housing NZ home, you should contact Housing NZ. You can also make a complaint to the local council, like you would with other noise complaints.

How do I complain about my neighbour’s noise levels?

If you think that your neighbour is making excessive noise (either through constant partying or a barking dog), the best thing to do is to try to talk to them first, and see if you can come to an agreement.

If things don’t look up from the conversation, under the Resources Management Act, your neighbour cannot make excessive and unreasonable noise. You can contact your local council to complain. They usually can only do something if the noise is happening at the time you call, so that they can investigate.

You might have to give the council your details. In some areas, you can’t make a noise complaint anonymously.

What happens after I make a complaint about my neighbour’s excessive noise?

Once a noise complaint has been received, and the noise is ongoing, the local council will send out a noise control officer to assess whether the noise is excessive. The assessment takes into account the time of day, type of noise, and the presence of sound barriers. In some cases, monitoring equipment may be needed to determine whether noise is excessive.

Once the noise is found to be excessive, an Excessive Noise Direction (END) may be issued. Further action will be taken if further complaints are received within 72 hours and the loud equipment may be seized.

What will happen once the council gets involved with the noise I’m making?

The council can issue you with an Excessive Noise Direction (END) if they find the sound you’re making to be excessive. If you don’t stop making noise after an investigator has issued you with an END, the noise control officer can come back with the police to confiscate your property that is causing the noise. They will only give it back to you if they’re convinced that you won’t use it to cause any more problems in the future. You might also have to pay a fine before you get it back.

If excessive noise is made continuously, the council can issue an ‘abatement notice’ which requires unreasonable noise to be stopped or reduced to a reasonable period. The notice does not expire unless the local council cancels it or the notice is successfully appealed at court.

If someone has made a complaint against you and you’re not happy about it, then you can contact your local council to discuss your concerns.

Someone’s made a complaint about the noise I’m making, what are some good noise preventing tips?

There are some things you can do to prevent noise complaints being made against you, for example:

  • Making sure that any alarms you have are installed properly and don’t go off at random or ring for too long;
  • Let your neighbours know in advance if you’re planning a party that might be loud or having work done on your property that could make noise beyond reasonable levels or hours;
  • Try to contain noise by keeping doors and windows closed;
  • Installing sound barriers in rooms where a lot of noise will be produced;
  • Do noisy activities (like using a chainsaw or practising the drums) during the day where possible.
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