Living with neighbors is a typical part of anyone’s life. In apartment complexes, living with neighbors in close proximity is inevitable-and can sometimes pose some issues. Most people have had their share of outside noise entering their homes, but what happens when this noise is taken too far? Communities can be a challenging place to negotiate with neighbors, especially if you find that they are just a few decibels too loud.
Every state and locality has their own laws in place regarding noise level. Many local ordinances have specified “quiet hours” which typically range from a time late at night until the morning. These laws are in place to protect people from noise that occurs in excess and is meant to provide an outline for what could be considered noise outside of agreed upon social guidelines and rules.
In the case of a tenant, there are no federal laws in place that protect a right to peaceful and quiet enjoyment of residence, but isn’t it implied? Why wouldn’t you expect to live and pay for a space that provides safety and peace? When a neighbor is consistently disrupting that peace with noise pollution, you are well within your rights to take action.
Some common issues that cause noise complaints include, but are not limited to:
- Loud foot traffic
- Excessive partying
- Loud music
- Loud arguments/shouting
- Barking dogs
It is important to carefully observe each situation and decide if it would be in violation of any community rules within your complex. Barking dogs are common but is this particular dog barking every once in a while, or constantly all day and night? Everyone is entitled to throw parties and gatherings with friends, but do the parties go into the early hours of the morning or do they usually end by 10 or 11 PM? Use your judgement, and decide for yourself if your particular situation needs to be addressed.
Every landlord should anticipate potential conflicts that may occur when renting a property to others. Lease agreements should outline quiet enjoyment rights of tenants, and everyone should feel respected in their living space. A lot of arguments and confusion can be prevented by including clauses that outline what is to be done when a noise complaint is filed. It may even be in best practice to provide clear quiet times for all tenants in order to further enforce the right to quiet enjoyment of a residence. These clauses will not only protect individual residents, but they also serve as a protection for you in order to be able to better approach and address any conflicts that arise.
When a tenant does file a noise complaint, it is the job of the landlord to take action. Talk to the tenant that filed the complaint and get as many details as possible about the situation. It is important to also communicate with the tenant being noisy to make the concerns known to them. If speaking to the noise-making tenant does not solve the issue and it poses a larger problem for the community as a whole, it may be necessary to refer back to the lease. If things are really getting out of hand, it may even be worth beginning the process of eviction.
As a tenant that is a victim of too much noise, it is important to document the occasions in which the disruptions occur. Having as many details as possible will allow you to file a proper complaint with the landlord if needed. It may be best to reach out to the neighbor directly before involving anyone else. Sometimes open communication will address the issues properly and resolve any conflict. Consider writing them a formal letter if you are not comfortable with personal confrontation. There are many templates available online, and they can be of great use in this situation. Outline the specific noise you are complaining about, and offer some quiet hours if there are none given by the apartment complex.
If your neighbor does not change their behavior, then it is necessary to ask the landlord for help. File a formal complaint, and allow management to approach the situation in a way that they feel is responsible and fair for both parties. Additionally, do your own research and learn if there are any local ordinances pertaining to quiet hours that may help your case. If the neighbor is excessively noisy, then it is possible that you are not the only victim of this behavior. It can be affecting the community as a whole and it may be in everyone’s best interest to go beyond a few friendly reminders. Sometimes contacting law enforcement may be needed if the problem does not end after many attempts to resolve the issue-and the noise is excessive. If all else fails, it may be worth considering moving to a new residence.
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As a tenant that is causing the noise, it is important to understand if there are clauses in your lease that may potentially lead to eviction. Additionally, if law enforcement is contacted, they may enter your home if you are not complying with the socially accepted noise standards. Be open to speaking with others, and try to understand their possible concerns. Ignoring the complaints will not make them go away, and it will only create an uncomfortable living situation for you and your neighbors. Listening to each other and respectfully agreeing to a solution will lead to a much better outcome for both parties.
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Ultimately, no one wants to get involved in a bad situation with their neighbors and community. These are just some general tips that may help if you are facing a possible noise complaint. Hopefully you never find yourself in a situation where the upstairs neighbor is walking around a little too loudly at 2:00 AM, or the next door neighbor throws a few too many parties during the week, but if you do, I hope these guidelines help.