Have you ever found yourself dealing with unreasonable noise complaints?
Being a landlord, it can be quite challenging having to deal with multiple noise complaints from your tenants.
Even as a tenant, you can be issued a noise complaint by the property manager or your neighbors.
When such a thing happens, it’s essential to keep your cool and follow the instructions that I will be sharing in this guide.
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. (Source)
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.
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
How Do You 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.
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. (Source)
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?
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.
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.
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.