What is a Noise Complaint?
An Essential Property Management Term
A noise complaint is a written or verbal complaint made against a person or group that’s causing excessive noise. Noise complaints are typically made to a landlord or property owner before getting local law enforcement involved. If noise complaints from their tenant are persistent, a landlord may escalate the situation to include eviction proceedings.
Noise disturbances are recurring or ongoing noises that disturb the right to quiet enjoyment of nearby neighbors.
Noise ordinances can vary based on location and zoning laws, but in general noise disturbances are measured at an average of over 84 decibels. Most noise complaints happen during nighttime hours, when excessive noise becomes a factor that puts public health at risk.
Common Sources of Noise Complaints
Everyone has their own threshold of acceptable noise, particularly when they’re inside the confines of their living space. From a legal standpoint, noise complaints are taken seriously when the offending noise is excessive and recurring or ongoing.
It’s a good idea for any property owner or tenant to speak with their neighbors before doing something that may result in excessive noise, such as having a party or taking on home construction projects.
Dogs are one of the most common sources of noise complaints. Many dogs only make noise when they’re excited, but some will bark at every person who passes their house, or at seemingly random times of the day.
It’s a good idea for any landlord renting to dog-owning tenants to talk with the renters about their dog’s barking if it becomes an issue, and to outline times when a dog’s barking is unacceptable, such as past 10 pm.
Most construction noise will occur during the daytime, though some overzealous residents might get carried away with home renovations and work late into the night. If construction noise is persistent or excessively loud, such as generators or saws roaring at all hours, then a noise complaint may arise.
Whether it’s recorded music or a garage band getting carried away, neighbors may complain about loud music. As with every other form of noise complaint, it’s best for tenants to talk with neighbors and work out reasonable guidelines on loud music. Neighbors may be perfectly fine with band practice on a Saturday afternoon, but hate when it happens on a Monday night as they’re putting the baby down for bed.
Car maintenance and noisy engines are other common sources of noise complaints. When a motor vehicle violates the right to quiet enjoyment, it can lead to a noise complaint filed with the landlord. Loud cars typically aren’t sustained noise violations, but can definitely be recurring if the driver comes and goes and refuses to address their noisy vehicle.
How to Deal With Noisy Neighbors
If a tenant repeatedly complains to you about noisy neighbors, it’s best practice to first have a dialogue with that neighbor. Make sure you’re respectful and see it from the neighbor’s standpoint instead of coming in hot and pointing fingers.
Home Renovations to Cut Down on Noise
There are many home renovations you can make to the rental unit to make noise complaints less disruptive for your tenants, such as:
- Adding additional insulation in walls or the attic
- Upgrading windows to double-pane glass
- Installing soundproof curtains to windows
- Putting in a privacy fence around the property
- Replacing exterior doors with solid steel doors
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Noise complaints happen, and whether your tenant is the victim or culprit, here are some tips on how to comply with local noise ordinances.
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