Rowdy West Auckland state home triggers record 100 noise complaints to Auckland Council

A state house tenant whose home has had at least 100 noise complaints this year claims she’s no party animal, but the victim of harassment.

However, neighbours of the West Auckland property say rowdy, late-night drinking sessions and vibrations from bass-heavy music are damaging their sleep and mental health.

Petula Clarke lives in a two-storey brick and tile house on Hutchinson Ave, New Lynn with five of her six kids and one mokopuna.

The site attracted more noise complaints than any other in the Supercity region in 2020.

It’s visited so often by noise control officers from Auckland Council contractor First Security that Clarke recognises their faces.

She and her family have lived there for 15 years. She admitted it’s the local “hang house” and that her children sometimes “screamed and yelled” playing computer games.

But she denied they are “partiers” and claimed laughter or simply chatting on the back doorstep is enough to trigger a complaint.

“It’s just frustrating. I think it’s harassment myself,” Clarke said.

“Okay, we get a bit loud and all from time to time but we are not even partying. We’re not rowdy drinkers. We don’t smash bottles and try to beat up the neighbours.”

Auckland Council confirmed the property had been subject to 100 noise complaints and 85 site visits by November 24, making it “the most complained about emitter of excessive noise thus far in 2020”.

The council issued three Excessive Noise Direction (END) notices this year. They require occupants to reduce noise to a reasonable level immediately – and keep it down for 72 hours.

Another breach within three days can be punished with a $500 fine or police being called to seize “noise-making equipment”.

Clarke said there had been no seizures or fines, despite multiple threats from officials.

She acknowledged being called to a Housing NZ/Kāinga Ora mediation session with a neighbour in 2019 and had tried to keep the decibels down since.

The ongoing complaints were “ridiculous” and unfair.

“This is my ‘hood. I can’t even invite a couple of my friends over and have a few drinks.

“Kids are loud – I’ve got too many – but I’m not going to tell my kids to shut up in their own house. It’s not like they can take away our voiceboxes.”

One neighbour said he and his partner had endured the noise for several years. They tried to avoid the din by going out or wearing noise-reducing headphones.

The man, who asked not to be named, said Clarke’s family played a lot of loud music, which could cause his home to vibrate.

“It’s basically them just having drinks but it gets out of control.

“You’re talking from 6pm to sometimes 2am when you hear the bass.”

He had made repeated calls to noise control and Housing NZ and felt both organisations had been too lenient.

“They keep saying, ‘They get a three strikes warning’, but nothing gets done.”

Although the noise had dropped since Clarke’s mediation, the problem obviously remained given the number of complaints this year by families wanting “peace and quiet”.

“It really affects you mentally. I’ve got to the point where I don’t really care as long as I get a good night’s sleep.”

Auckland Council compliance response team leader David Frith said he sympathised with neighbours affected by excessive noise.

He encouraged residents to ask neighbours to “turn it down” in the first instance. If noise was truly excessive they should call noise control early rather than putting up with it all evening.

“Most importantly, if the noise comes up in volume after the noise control officer has left, then call it in again. If a notice has been served, it is at that time that strong enforcement action can be taken.

“In [Clarke’s] case, we have been able to verify the excessive noise on four occasions and served four notices. Each time there has been no further breach in the next 72 hours.”

A Kāinga Ora spokesman said its clients signed agreements requiring them to be good neighbours, responsible, considerate and law-abiding.

“In this instance there were some noise matters raised with us by a private owner in January 2019 and the council just under a year and a half ago.”

The matter was dealt with and the tenancy manager’s number given to neighbours, but the agency had heard nothing further since mid-last year.

“Just because a complaint is made it does not mean it is justified or upheld.”

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