By the Paddocks Club team
Below are examples of two questions on the Paddocks Club discussion forum, to show you what is available to our Community members!
Special needs children and resultant noise nuisance
Good day Paddocks,
We have a tenant in one of the body corporate units with an autistic child. The child is in a special facility during the week but visits his parents on weekends. They are battling to control him and during the day he is noisy. He is generally awake from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. during the weekend days.
We received a complaint from a neighbour now, demanding quiet enjoyment of her unit, and requesting the nuisance to stop. I’m not sure what the normal noise level of a crying and laughing child should be.
Could you please guide us on where to start with handling this?
I know a little bit about this issue, as I have an autistic grandchild. An autistic person’s brain is wired differently to ordinary persons. Luckily most autistic children become less disruptive as they grow older and learn soothing and other coping mechanisms. Still, particularly in early childhood, this disorder frequently results in noisy tantrums that can disturb neighbours and in unresponsive behaviour that can upset others.
The neighbour is experiencing a disturbance that is not the result of over-liberal or neglectful parenting. Nor is it the uncontrolled behaviour of an undisciplined child. As you know, autism is a medical condition. To some extent, the behaviour of an autistic child can be managed by routine so that the child is not unsettled, by constant parental care and by drugs taken under the direction of a psychiatrist. But the condition is not going to go away—the parents need to manage it as well as they can.
Most people have been taught to be ‘well-behaved’. Many of us take care to ensure that our children are polite and friendly. We can easily be upset or angered by an autistic child’s tantrums if we do not understand the circumstances. We can easily misunderstand the autistic person’s lack of appropriate reaction to us and to everyday events. We may judge autistic children by “normal” standards and not consider their reduced capacity for empathy or their inability to interpret the reactions of others.
As a managing agent, I suggest you start by advising the occupier who has complained to contact the parents of the autistic child and arrange to discuss the issues they are experiencing with noise. The parents must be aware that this noise causes others inconvenience. Perhaps a meeting at which they calmly and respectfully discuss the problems they are experiencing could start communications that make the situation easier for them both to handle. Realistically, parents can only do a limited amount to keep their autistic child quiet. The neighbour could start by telling the parents when quiet is most important. Then the parents can take that into account and, for example, take the child out or provide television or iPad distractions that are likely to reduce the noise.
Maintenance of a common floor between two units
Who is responsible for the maintenance of a shared slab which divides two units i.e. one on top and one on the bottom? Is it a 50/50 split between the owners or would it be deemed common property and therefore the body corporate’s responsibility?
The concrete slab between two sections, one above the other, is divided by a ‘median line’.
This division will be shown on the sectional plan, and if you need exact dimensions, you need to check with the surveyor.
There is no common property involved and each owner is responsible to maintain and repair their part of the slab.
Please read the Sectional Title Survival Manual for details of the liability for maintenance, but the principle is that owners maintain and repair their sections and the body corporate maintains and repairs common property.
Article reference: Paddocks Press: Volume 16, Issue 12.
Graham Paddock is available to answer questions on the Paddocks Club discussion forum for Community members. Get all your questions answered by joining Paddocks Club.
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.