Living in close proximity to others comes with its fair share of challenges, and one common issue that can arise is dealing with unreasonable noise complaints.
Whether you’re a homeowner, tenant, or even a business owner, finding yourself at the receiving end of such complaints can be frustrating and stressful.
However, it’s important to handle these situations tactfully and find ways to coexist peacefully with your neighbors. In this blog post, we will explore effective strategies to address unreasonable noise complaints, fostering better understanding, and maintaining a harmonious living environment.
What Is Considered Unreasonable Noise?
In simple terms, unreasonable noise translates to unusual or excessive loud sounds that interfere with the peace, compose an average person, and endanger a normal person’s safety and health.
Unreasonable loud noise is also noise injury or damage to property. In some states or countries, unreasonable noise means noise levels against the noise ordinance standards.
For obvious reasons, most places, primarily commercial places, have different “definitions” of loud noises, and what is considered loud in residential places could be regarded as usual in commercial settings.
However, here are some general factors that can contribute to defining unreasonable noise:
- Volume: Excessive loudness that exceeds the permissible limits or disrupts the peace and tranquility of a place can be deemed unreasonable. The decibel level and time of day may be considered when determining whether noise is excessive.
- Duration: Prolonged or continuous noise that persists for an extended period, especially during quiet hours or at inappropriate times, may be considered unreasonable.
- Time of day: The acceptability of noise can vary depending on the time of day. For example, noise that disturbs sleep during nighttime hours or disturbs the peace during early morning or late evening hours may be considered unreasonable.
- Location: Noise that occurs in inappropriate locations, such as residential areas, hospitals, libraries, or places of worship, where quiet and peaceful environments are expected, may be deemed unreasonable.
- Intermittent or repetitive noise: Noise that occurs frequently, repeatedly, or in bursts, causing annoyance or disruption, may be considered unreasonable.
- Impact on others: Noise that significantly interferes with the activities, comfort, or well-being of others, such as preventing them from concentrating, sleeping, or enjoying their surroundings, may be considered unreasonable.
How To Deal with Unreasonable Noise Complaints as a Homeowner?
Now that you’re aware of some things that make up unreasonable noise complaints, it’s high time you learn different ways to deal with individual complaints.
Open Communication and Active Listening
One of the most effective ways to address unreasonable noise complaints is through open communication. Reach out to your neighbor or the complainant and listen attentively to their concerns.
Demonstrating a genuine interest in resolving the issue can help foster understanding and empathy. Maintain a respectful tone, avoid getting defensive, and show willingness to find a mutually acceptable solution. Engaging in a constructive dialogue lays the foundation for resolving conflicts peacefully.
Identifying the Source of the Noise
When faced with a noise complaint, it’s essential to identify the source of the noise accurately. Take the time to investigate and determine whether the noise is indeed coming from your property or if there may be other contributing factors.
This investigation could involve observing noise levels during different times of the day or using sound measuring devices to obtain objective data.
By pinpointing the source, you can address the problem effectively and avoid unnecessary misunderstandings.
Apologize and Keep Noise Down
Sometimes it all points down to humbling yourself, trashing your pride, and admitting that you’re wrong even when the odds seem to be in your favor. As human beings, you’ll find that most people will first approach you directly before taking any drastic measures like reporting you to the landlord or the cops.
If your neighbor approaches you and probably informs you that you’re a noise nuisance, simply apologize and let them know that it won’t happen again. Who knows, probably that would be the start of a lifelong family friendship?
An apology isn’t enough, and you’ll need to do what’s right, which means you will have to keep the noise down.
Probably your son was practicing in his room using acoustic drums- these are damn loud enough to cause conflicts with your neighbor. So, I’d recommend getting quiet electronic drums to keep the noise down.
Research Local Noise Ordinances
Sometimes, it’s best to keep yourself updated with your local noise ordinances and the latest amendments to the laws if you need to avoid possible evictions and police records.
Most residential areas across the world have local noise ordinances that dictate quiet hours between 10pm to 8 or 9am on weekends and until 7am on weekdays.
In most cases, you could be breaking this simple rule, messing up your neighbors right to a peaceful and quiet environment.
We all need sleep and relaxation, and your neighbor is never an exception. If you were playing music late at night, why not play it during the day when everyone is at work/agreeable time?
Modify Your Behavior or Environment
If the noise complaints are valid and within reason, it might be necessary to modify your behavior or make changes to your environment. Consider adjusting your daily routine, using noise-reducing techniques or products, or relocating certain activities to quieter areas of your property.
Installing soundproofing measures or insulation can also significantly reduce noise transmission. By taking proactive steps to minimize noise disturbances, you demonstrate your commitment to being a considerate neighbor.
Invest In Quiet Appliances
Investing in quiet appliances will not only prevent you from conflicting with your neighbor but will also allow you to enjoy quiet living in your home.
For example, if you love making a smoothie in the dead of night, your loud blender can be pretty irritating to anyone across the room and even your next-door neighbors.
Therefore, you can simply get a quiet blender that will allow you to make smoothies, crush ice, and so much more without sounding like a spaceship engine. This means that you can make smoothies at midnight or anytime of the day or night without making much noise.
Alternatively, you can implement some of my most recommended methods of soundproofing appliances- for example, you can learn how to silence noisy blenders quieter using simple soundproofing materials.
Garden appliances such as lawnmowers or leaf blowers are essential machinery but are pretty noisy. You could be having a tight work schedule such that the only feasible time to tend to your lawn is during quiet hours. In such a scenario, it would be good to invest in quiet leaf blowers and lawnmowers.
Soundproof Your Home
Soundproofing your home could be a solution to all these noise complaints. Sometimes, it becomes impossible to control the amount of noise from your house- for example, in the case of home theater, you can’t simply enjoy your movies without the boom sounds of explosions or gun sound effects because it’s these sounds that make the film enjoyable.
You’d be fine soundproofing your home theater and going full blast on your home theater stereo without having to worry about the noise leaking outside your home.
If your downstairs neighbors are always complaining about footfalls or the sounds of utensils falling or noise from kids jumping around in their rooms, well, you could better off getting some thick carpets to help deal with the impact sound.
Notify Your Neighbors
If you’re planning on undertaking a DIY activity that could send loud sound waves across the block, then it would be wise to inform your neighbors ahead of time.
This way, your neighbors will be aware of whatever loud activity you need to undertake and will possibly be ready for the occasion or probably plan an outing at your specified schedule.
Some of the activities that I would highly advise you to inform your neighbors before include:
- Home Renovations
- Music Lessons
- Yard works
However, most landlords have this as a clause in their rental agreement contracts- whereby a tenant is supposed to inform the landlord of any projects that may cause unnecessary disruptions to other tenants. The landlord then notifies the entire building complex of the intended activity, preventing unreasonable noise complaints.
File Harassment Report
It could be necessary to file a harassment complaint if you’ve done all in your power to keep the noise down and both the property owner and the local police enforcement agree the amount of noise isn’t excessive. Although this should only be done as a last resort and might not change their behavior, it does provide evidence that the problem is present.
You’ll need proof that you’ve done anything reasonable to deal with the noise as well as evidence that the property owner and neighborhood authorities didn’t find a problem when they responded to calls about noise complaints.
Additionally, it is in your best interest if you can demonstrate that you tried to calm down the neighbor and communicated with them. This is particularly true if you repeatedly made changes at their request, yet the criticisms persisted.
A lawsuit should be the very last option, nevertheless. The procedure is frequently time-consuming and expensive. But it’s something to think about if you’re left with no other options.
How to Deal with Noise Complaints as a Landlord?
As a property manager or landlord, you should ensure that you have a rental/lease agreement that’s airtight. It should have rules and regulations addressing all the issues, including noise complaints, such that when a tenant approaches you with a noise complaint, you’re in a position to validate or invalidate.
For a noise complaint to be reasonable, it should be frequent, unreasonable, and excessive, and as a landlord, you have to evaluate whether the noise problem fits the bill.
For instance, a one-off dinner party or occasional dog barking would be considered an unreasonable complaint.
What constitutes a valid complaint would be something like frequent late-night parties or loud noises during quiet hours.
The next step would be to communicate with the tenants regarding your findings. As a landlord, you need to address the complaint as soon as possible, especially in multiple complaints from different tenants. A valid complaint should be accompanied by a warning, and if everything else fails, then an eviction would be agreeable with reference to the contract agreement.
How to Spot Unreasonable Noise Complaints?
Whether you’re a landlord, homeowner, or tenant, there are simply tell tales that will help you identify if someone is maliciously targeting you.
The number of people complaining- if you live in a neighborhood with several houses adjacent to yours and are continuously bombarded with a noise complaint from a single household, there’s a high chance that you’re being targeted.
If the noise complaints include everyday sounds or activities, your property manager or the cops will see that as being unreasonable.
If you get reported every now and then by a single person, no other neighbor is aware of the noise nuisance.
In most cases, the cops or local enforcement officers will ignore complaints related to the sounds of:
- Flushing toilets (you may consider investing in a quiet flush toilet)
- Door slamming (consider reading my guide on how to stop doors from slamming)
- Children playing
- Dogs barking (check guide on soundproofing dog crate)
- Household appliances
- Squeaky stairs or floors
Final Thoughts on Noise Complaints
Noise complaints, whether reasonable or unreasonable, can be tough to handle, and regardless of how quiet you live, there’s always someone who’ll think you’re loud enough to distract their living.
If the complaint is valid, it would be good to rectify the problem and apologize to your neighbor and the landlord and assure them that it would never happen again.
Don’t repeat the same mistake again- for example, if your complaint concerns listing a late-night dinner party, then why not inform the neighbors in advance? Better enough, invite them to the party.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.