Imagine moving into your dream apartment, only to find out that your next-door neighbor is an aspiring rockstar who plays the drums at all hours of the day with complete disregard. What do you do? Can you file a noise complaint?
Apartment noise complaints are one of the most common issues between renters and landlords, and it’s important to handle it right from the start. Every tenant has the right to Quiet Enjoyment, which is the right to live in peace and quiet in the rented property.
So what should landlords and renters do about excessive noise? Let’s take a look at noise complaints and the available options for dealing with them properly.
Excessive Noise vs. Normal Noise
It’s important to note that there are no definitive rules when it comes to noise complaints that apply across all properties. Landlord and tenant should be working together to eliminate noise issues.
Normal noise is the type caused by everyday activities such as walking, closing doors, using the bathroom, and cooking. Since you can’t ask your neighbors to stop walking, cooking, or basically living, there is not much that can be done about these noises. Hopefully, your apartment is structurally sound enough to eliminate everyday noises.
However, if you encounter excessive noise from unusual activities such as blaring loud music or a frequent partying, you have cause to file a noise complaint since this would be in violation of your right to Quiet Enjoyment.
What is Quiet Enjoyment?
Quiet Enjoyment is a legal covenant that promises that a tenant in a real estate property will be able to possess the premises in peace, without disturbance by hostile claimants.
What that means is that as a renter, you have the right to live in peace and quiet. This covenant is a basic right of all tenants, so it does not have to be included in the lease agreement for courts to side with a tenant whose Quiet Enjoyment rights have been violated.
Quiet Enjoyment includes the tenant’s right to:
- Exclude others from the premises
- Peace and quiet
- Clean premises
- Basic services such as heat and hot water
- For high-rise buildings, the right to elevator services
Steps for Tenants to Take
If you are a tenant dealing with excessive noise from your neighbors, there are some steps you can take before escalating the matter to your landlord or filing a noise complaint.
Gather Evidence – Document Excessive Noise
With a subjective issue such as noise (what appears loud to you may be normal to your partying neighbors), it’s important to have some evidence on your side.
Take a video with your phone or use an audio recording app with a decibel meter to document your claims of a noise complaint, and keep this in your back pocket in case you need to use it in the future.
Try to Resolve the Issue With Your Neighbors
While confronting your noisy neighbors isn’t the most comfortable thing to do, it can certainly be the quickest path to a resolution. Your neighbors might not be aware of how loud they are, and you’d be surprised how quickly people accommodate to ensure they are not disturbing others.
It’s important to approach the situation in a polite and peaceful manner and not make things contentious from the start. But if you tried talking to your neighbors and the noise persists, it’s time to let your landlord know.
Discuss the Issue With Your Landlord
Hopefully, your landlord cares about your living conditions and your experience as their tenant and will get involved on your behalf. But even if they don’t do it out of the kindness of their heart, they will try to stop the noise so that you won’t have grounds to break the lease early.
Present your landlord with the evidence that you’ve gathered and recount any failed attempts you’ve had in trying to talk to your neighbors. If your landlord isn’t helpful, however, or if they haven’t been successful either, it’s time to get the authorities involved.
File a Noise Complaint
If all other forms of intervention fail, call you local non-emergency law enforcement to come out and address the issue. Provide them with all of the evidence and background, and try to summon them during a live noise violation to make your case obvious.
The officers will talk to your noisy neighbors and might issue a warning or even a citation. This should help tremendously in reducing excessive noise as it makes the matter a serious one.
But what if this only stops the noise temporarily and you find yourself having to call the police multiple times a month? Time to consider moving out.
Consider Moving Out
If the excessive noise persists despite police intervention and filing a noise complaint, start looking for a new place to live. Depending on how much time you have until your lease expires, you might choose to let it naturally expire or to terminate it early.
As we’ve mentioned, you can break your lease early since the excessive noise is in violation of your right to Quiet Enjoyment. If you think that this could happen, document all of your interactions with neighbors, landlord, and police so that you ensure an air-tight case for breaking your lease early.
Steps for Landlords to Take
If you are the landlord of both the noisy tenant and the complaining tenant, you have more control over the situation and should be able to resolve it.
Intervene With Noisy Tenant Directly
Let the noisy tenant know that they are disturbing the peace of the other tenants and that they need to stop. Start gathering evidence in case you need to build an eviction case against the noisy tenant if they refuse to cooperate.
Include Specific Noise Language in the Lease
To ensure that all of your incoming tenants are on the same page in regards to keeping excessive noise to a minimum, consider including clear language that allows you to evict a tenant due to excessive noise or noise violations in the lease.
Point prospective tenants to this language so that they are crystal clear about the implications and your level of seriousness around the matter, prior to signing the lease. This will help to naturally weed out noisier tenants.
Evict Tenants Who Refuse to Comply
A noisy tenant could become a costly one, potentially resulting in broken leases and unpaid rent by other, disgruntled tenants.
Take swift action against tenants who have been warned multiple times. Make sure to document all of your correspondences with them and with police, if applicable, and file for an eviction.