Noisy neighbors are everywhere, whether in a single-family home, condominium, or row of townhouses. Every homeowner will, at some point in their life, deal with neighbors who play the drums at midnight or hold parties until dawn.
These neighbors are a nuisance to the entire community. So, when residents start to complain about the racket, it is the duty of the homeowners association (HOA) board to intervene.
Unfortunately, a simple, “Can you turn down the music?” isn’t always received well. Neighbors tend to blow things out of proportion. Suddenly, a noise complaint can turn into a long-drawn-out dispute between neighbors.
As a landlord, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your tenants continue to exercise their right to quiet enjoyment. This means ensuring that your HOA knows how to deal with headaches within the community. Remember, happy tenant = happy landlord.
Common Noise Complaints in Residential Areas
Noise is inevitable especially in residential areas where the units are closely packed together. Certain sounds aren’t bothersome, such as the sound of laughter, television, and the like. It only becomes annoying when the sound exceeds “normal” noise. Here are some of the most common reasons for noise complaints:
#1 Barking Dogs
Barking is one of the most common noises that neighbors complain about. When dogs bark in the middle of the night, this can frustrate next-door neighbors who are trying to get a good night’s sleep.
Most HOAs enforce rules that pet owners should follow. For instance, pet owners should discipline their dog whenever it begins barking. If the owner fails to keep their pet under control, he/she may suffer from penalties or worse — he/she may have to remove the pet from the property.
If you’re renting out your home to a pet-owning tenant, it’s important to perform a pet screening. This process ensures that your prospective tenant’s pet is included in the HOA’s list of “acceptable” breeds.
Imagine sitting next to a crying toddler on an eight-hour flight. Unbearable, right?
Now, imagine being neighbors with a family that has a child who’s always throwing a tantrum. It won’t be long until you’ll want to rip your hair out.
The thing is, associations, landlords, and property managers cannot single out families with young children. This would be a violation of the Fair Housing Act. What HOAs can do, though, is to talk to the parents. They will likely address the issue out of fear of losing their home.
#3 Ceiling Noise
Sounds are louder in condominiums and apartments where units are separated by paper-thin walls. The most common noise complaint in multi-unit buildings involves ceiling noise.
When the upstairs neighbor makes a lot of noise, whether by stomping on their floors, playing music, or (ahem) engaging in “adult activities”, ill feelings between neighbors can quickly arise.
Thankfully, this matter can be resolved by the HOA or the condominium owners association (COA). Loud noises are likely part of the association’s restricted covenants. All they have to do is to reprimand the resident — if he doesn’t do anything about it, he may face penalties or legal action.
What HOAs Can Do About Noise Complaints
An HOA board is responsible for ensuring that homeowners continue to enjoy quality living. This means taking noise complaints seriously and addressing them professionally. Here’s what an HOA can do when a resident complains about his/her neighbor’s excessive noise.
#1 Enforce Clear Rules
Most cities have ordinances regarding the acceptable level of noise. However, if no ordinance exists, the HOA has the authority to enforce rules that would benefit the community. This means that they can set limits measured in decibels. For instance, nighttime noise should not exceed 40 decibels to grant neighbors peaceful sleep.
#2 Educate Homeowners
The noisy neighbors might not even be aware that they’re being noisy. While it should be common sense to respect your neighbor’s peace, unfortunately, common sense isn’t very common. The HOA should make sure that the member of the community understand the policies so that they can avoid annoying their neighbors.
#3 Act as Mediators
Neighbors may be tempted to file a lawsuit against their noisy neighbor, but it doesn’t always have to end in litigation. Before a neighbor sues a fellow neighbor, the HOA should step in and act as the mediator. The HOA board should bring the disputing parties together and attempt to settle matters in a civilized way. Mediation should provide both parties to explain their side of the story — it is then the mediator’s job to help them come to a compromise.
What to Do When Your Tenant is a Noisy Neighbor
If your tenant is a noisy neighbor, you’ll likely receive a complaint from the HOA. Remember, your tenant is your responsibility. The moment you receive a noise complaint about your tenant, address the issue immediately.
First, you should inform your tenant that a complaint was filed against them. Then, you should investigate the situation. Try to get a clear picture of what really happened — it’s likely that your tenant just happened to have friends over one night. As long as the noise isn’t persistent, it shouldn’t be a problem.
However, if the tenant has received numerous noise complaints, it may be time to provide them with a notice to cure or quit. When this happens, the tenant has to stop being a nuisance or else they will be evicted.
To avoid noisy tenants in the first place, it’s important to conduct a thorough tenant screening process. A property management company can help you “sift through” your list of applicants to find prospects who will be respectful towards others.
The Bottom Line
If your tenant is living in an HOA-regulated community, the association should be able to step in and address noise complaints that they might have. However, if your tenant is the one being complained about, it’s your job to ensure that your tenant stops disturbing the neighborhood. Similarly, if you own a multi-family property, your HOA should be proactive when it comes to dealing with noise complaints.
Need someone to manage your tenants or your property? Luxury Property Care can help. With years of experience under our belt, we can handle noise complaints professionally to ensure that your tenants continue to live peacefully.