Noise is one of the most common tenant complaints, and most landlords will need to diffuse a dispute at some point.
Here are some tips to help restore peace — and quiet — to your rental property:
Doing nothing is the worst option for landlords. Even if the noise cannot be eliminated, the fact that the landlord is trying to help can improve the situation. Never leave tenants to resolve noise complaints on their own.
Explain to tenants the process for handling noise complaints. Tenants may tolerate infrequent disturbances — like a dinner party or construction — if they know something will happen when they finally are driven to complain.
When screening tenants, pay attention to whether the person has lived in a similar setting — multifamily, near traffic, trains, buses. Some tenants cannot adjust to the new environment. Offer an out to tenants who cannot cope with unavoidable noises. Ask previous landlords whether an applicant was the subject of noise complaints, or complained frequently about normal noises.
Create “quiet” hours at night in the lease agreement. Focus on noise in general, like TV’s, and not on specific people, like kids. Prohibit unnecessary activities such as moving furniture during the nighttime hours.
Listen to both sides of a dispute and determine whether the noise is a normal, everyday occurrence — showering early in the morning, kids walking on the floor, cabinets closing, or whether the noise exceeds normal limits — chronic dog barking, shouting, fighting, music blaring. Landlords need to decide whether a noise complaint is legitimate, or if the person complaining is overly-sensitive.
The person making noise may not realize that other tenants are annoyed, so don’t go on the attack right away. Start with a friendly conversation and take stronger action only when needed.
Track the source of persistent noise complaints. There is always the possibility that a noise can be eliminated, and the complaints will go away, too.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.