Shang­hai should crack down on noisy home ren­o­va­tions

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Huang Lan­lan Page Ed­i­tor: chen­[email protected]­al­times.com.cn

One early Satur­day morn­ing in Novem­ber, as I was nes­tled in bed, sleep­ing in late on a rare day off, I was rudely awak­ened by a head-split­ting noise: a neigh­bor was hav­ing their walls jack-ham­mered and drilled. I groaned and looked at my clock: it was only 7 am.

Af­ter cov­er­ing by head with a pil­low and try­ing to fall back asleep – but fail­ing – I dashed up­stairs to the cul­prit’s home on the 11th floor (I live on the 8th). Two paint-cov­ered work­ers scowled at me.

Their re­sponse to my com­plaint was as­ton­ish­ing: “We will con­tinue ren­o­vat­ing this apart­ment. Who cares if you can sleep or not! You wanna call the po­lice? Do it!”

En­raged by their in­con­sid­er­a­tion and ar­ro­gance, I im­me­di­ately di­aled po­lice emer­gency hot line 110. About an hour later, the an­noy­ing noise died away; ap­par­ently the po­lice had showed up and stopped them.

While pre-dawn con­struc­tion ranks at the top of most lists of com­plaints by Shang­hai ex­pats, we Chi­nese tend to be im­per­vi­ous to such rack­ets. But I firmly be­lieve that any­one who makes loud noises in the early week­end hours – re­gard­less if it’s ren­o­vat­ing your apart­ment or blast­ing your tele­vi­sion set or quar­rel­ing with your spouse – no longer has a place in Shang­hai’s mod­ern, civ­i­lized so­ci­ety.

In fact, back in 2013 Shang­hai is­sued some long-awaited noise con­trol reg­u­la­tions pro­hibit­ing any home ren­o­va­tions from be­tween 6 pm and 8 am on week­days. As for week­ends, the reg­u­la­tion stip­u­lated that home ren­o­va­tions can only take place if they do not neg­a­tively af­fect your neigh­bors. Mean­ing that all it takes is one com­plaint to shut down an apart­ment ren­o­va­tion.

Vi­o­la­tors will be fined from 200 yuan ($28.8) to 500 yuan, east­day. com re­ported in 2013. Nonethe­less, af­ter I shared my ex­pe­ri­ence on WeChat, many friends with sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences and com­plaints com­mented that they didn’t think the po­lice helped with non-emer­gen­cies.

“The guys down­stairs are drilling ev­ery day, mak­ing me feel that the big noise will sooner or later break my walls,” a friend wrote. “I had no idea I could call 110. But next time I will have a try.”

As a mat­ter of fact, I would not rec­om­mend 110 when deal­ing with noisy neigh­bors. The­o­ret­i­cally, our city’s pre­cious po­lice re­sources are bet­ter to be saved for more ur­gent and se­ri­ous sit­u­a­tions.

As an al­ter­na­tive, hot line 12369 was set up to deal with noise com­plaints in Shang­hai. Es­tab­lished by China’s en­vi­ron­men­tal au­thor­i­ties, the hot line will dis­patch of­fi­cers who spe­cial­ize in noise.

Prop­erty man­age­ment of­fices of lo­cal res­i­den­tial com­mu­ni­ties also have an obli­ga­tion to en­force Shang­hai’s noise reg­u­la­tions and con­trol the hours con­struc­tions take place. Any res­i­dent who wishes to ren­o­vate their apart­ment must ne­go­ti­ate a sched­ule with man­age­ment and neigh­bors. Fail­ing to do so makes their ren­o­va­tions un­law­ful.

Some com­mu­ni­ties are bet­ter at en­forc­ing this rule than oth­ers. My friend’s res­i­den­tial com­mu­nity in Pu­tuo dis­trict has a very clear rule that says all apart­ments prepar­ing for a ren­o­va­tion must warn neigh­bors in ad­vance and pro­vide their phone num­bers to the of­fice in case of com­plaints.

The in­dif­fer­ent prop­erty man­age­ment of­fice of my com­mu­nity, on the con­trary, couldn’t care less and do not wish to be both­ered with com­plaints. Hav­ing lived there for only five months, I still have no idea how to con­tact the of­fice let alone file a com­plaint about my noisy neigh­bors.

A 2014 sur­vey showed that home ren­o­va­tion noise has be­come “the most an­noy­ing form of noise” for Shang­hai res­i­dents. Among those sur­veyed, 35 per­cent said they hate ren­o­va­tion noise the most, which was 26 per­cent­age points higher than square-danc­ing mu­sic, Shang­hai Morn­ing Post re­ported.

The prob­lem, how­ever, is that most res­i­dents won’t go through the trou­ble of con­tact­ing ei­ther 110 or 12369 when a neigh­bor ren­o­vates their apart­ment dur­ing pro­hib­ited hours. This ap­a­thy has lead to more con­struc­tion crews break­ing the law. So the next time you are rudely awak­ened, don’t be afraid to call the noise hot line.

The opin­ions ex­pressed in this ar­ti­cle are the au­thor’s own and do not nec­es­sar­ily re­flect the views of the Global Times.

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