Condo unit owner fails in bid to end
‘noise’ from pool pumps
The Strait Times
K.C. Vijayan Senior Law Correspondent
03 August 2017
For over two years, a condo unit owner tried to get his estate's
management corporation (MC) to resolve the noise from a swimming pool
pump system, which his occupier had found "unbearable".
The unit is located below the rooftop pool
The unit is located below the rooftop pool at Luma, a 27-storey
development in River Valley Grove.
The MC tried everything, from hiring an acoustics consultant to
conducting noise tests in the unit, one of 75 in the development. But
nothing worked, so owner Lim Yew Loon eventually took the matter to the
Strata Titles Board last December to press for more remedial works.
The owner's lawyer, Mr Low Cheong Yeow, argued at the hearing in June
that the MC did not do "their utmost" to get to the root of the
problem, and that the noise persisted.
In decision grounds issued early last month, the board found it was not
"technically possible" to end the noise from the pump system, and there
was no guarantee that the unit occupier would not be disturbed if
alternative vibration isolaters were installed.
To define what acceptable indoor background noise levels were for
apartments, Mr Lim's hired expert suggested using criteria from the
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning
The expert found the noise in the unit exceeded the American standards.
But the MC, defended by lawyers Murali Pany and Ng Lip Kai, countered
that the National Environment Agency's (NEA's) guidelines ought to be
used as a comparison. The MC pointed out that the readings from the
unit were within the ranges cited in the NEA guidelines.
The board, comprising Mr Alfonso Ang, Mr Zahidi Abdul Rahman and Mr
Tony Tay, noted in its decision: "All parties agree that there is no
prescribed noise limit from within residential property in Singapore.
"The board cannot import and apply the American standards. It is for
the relevant authorities in Singapore to decide."
The "incessant loud noise" was first noticed in 2014 and the MC took
several measures, including reducing the operating hours to between 9am
and 8pm daily, to allow the pumps to start later and end earlier.
The MC also hired two specialists last September and in June to conduct
noise tests in the unit.
The board found the MC had acted promptly on receiving the owner's
complaints, and also recognised the various steps it had taken to
reduce the noise impact level on the occupier.
It said the owner had bought the unit with full knowledge of its
location below the swimming pool and other amenities.
"Any reasonable man knows or ought to know that these amenities operate
on pumps where noise can be expected."
The board added that as the pumps are switched off daily, the occupant
has some 13 hours of undisturbed time at night.
Noting that no other units on the same floor appeared affected, the
board found that the occupier was "particularly affected" by the noise
from the pump system, and the only way to stop the noise completely was
to switch off the pumps.
"It has happened before but it deprived the other (owners) of the use
of the swimming pool and the other facilities," said the board in
dismissing the case.
"This is untenable."
chapter previous next