Noise per se is not a nuisance
I filed a complaint before the barangay about the loud noise that comes from the air-conditioning unit of my neighbor. During the mediation at the barangay, I told my neighbor that the loud noise coming from his air conditioner is really a nuisance but he claimed that being loud alone is not considered a nuisance. Is there any measurement of noise that I can use to prove that the said noise is a nuisance?
Nuisance is specifically governed by Article 694 of the New Civil Code of the Philippines, which states that:
"A nuisance is any act, omission, establishment, business, condition of property or anything else which: (1) Injures or endangers the health or safety of others; or (2) Annoys or offends the senses; or (3) Shocks, defies or disregards decency or morality; or (4) Obstructs or interferes with the free passage of any public highway or street, or any body of water; or (5) Hinders or impairs the use of property."
The presence of nuisance depends upon the existence of the conditions enumerated in the afore-cited law and it does not depend on how loud the noise you are complaining about. This finds support in the pronouncement of the court in the case of Frabelle Properties Corp. vs. AC Enterprises Inc. (G.R. 245438, Nov. 3, 2020) where the Supreme Court speaking through Honorable former chief justice Diosdado M. Peralta stated that:
"Xx x. Noise can be considered a nuisance only if it injuriously affects the health or comfort of ordinary people in the vicinity to an unreasonable extent.
In AC Enterprises, the court held:
The test is whether rights of property, of health or of comfort are so injuriously affected by the noise in question that the sufferer is subjected to a loss, which goes beyond the reasonable limit imposed upon him by the condition of living or of holding property, in a particular locality in fact devoted to uses, which involve the emission of noise although ordinary care is taken to confine it within reasonable bounds; or in the vicinity of property of another owner who, though creating a noise, is acting with reasonable regard for the rights of those affected by it. x x x
The determining factor when noise alone is the cause of complaint is not its intensity or volume. It is that the noise is of such character as to produce actual physical discomfort and annoyance to a person of ordinary sensibilities, rendering adjacent property less comfortable and valuable. If the noise does that it can well be said to be substantial and unreasonable in degree, and reasonableness is a question of fact dependent upon all the circumstances and conditions. There can be no fixed standard as to what kind of noise constitutes a nuisance. (Citations omitted and emphasis supplied)."
Applying the above-quoted decision in your situation, your neighbor may be correct in saying that being loud per se will not automatically result in actionable nuisance. There is no law or jurisprudence, which sets an absolute quantifiable standard as to the noise level or the intensity or volume and the same is not a determining factor to consider noise as nuisance. To consider noise as a nuisance, you have to determine if the noise is of such character as to produce actual physical discomfort and annoyance to a person of ordinary sensibilities.
We hope that we were able to answer your queries. This advice is based solely on the facts you have narrated and our appreciation of the same. Our opinion may vary when other facts are changed or elaborated
Editor's note: Dear PAO is a daily column of the Public Attorney's Office. Questions for Chief Acosta may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Chief Public Attorney Persida Acosta