Noise complaints present a complex challenge for landlords who find themselves in the middle of the responsibility chain for both the noise their tenants are subjected to and the noise they cause. On the one hand, your tenants have the right to enjoy a quiet home, and noise complaints from the neighborhood can infringe on this right and your lease agreement.
On the other hand, you are responsible for ensuring your tenants provide their neighbors with the same right to quiet enjoyment. The best way to handle noise complaints will depend on various local factors such as laws, code enforcement, lease agreements, and the specific circumstances surrounding the noise.
Noise Complaints: Understanding the Concept and Regulations
Noise laws vary by state, city, and county, and may also be defined by local HOAs. Illegal noise is typically defined as noise that is harmful, disruptive, and unnecessary.
Construction noise may be acceptable during business hours, but may be restricted after certain times at night, according to local noise ordinances. Some noises, such as excessive honking of a car horn, are rarely allowed, even in emergencies.
Stay informed about local noise laws and regulations, and keep records for each rental property you manage. Noise laws can differ between neighborhoods, even in the same city, based on local government regulations.
What is Considered a Disturbing Noise?
A noise complaint is a persistent or continual noise that obstructs a neighbor’s ability to enjoy their peace and quiet. This might be assessed on a case-by-case basis or evaluated at an average volume exceeding 84 dB. When neighbors are calm and there is less noise, it is more likely that a noise disturbance will be reported. Excessive noise may disrupt sleep, induce stress, and be dangerous for the general public’s health.
Ordinarily, a practical distinction is made between background noise from private everyday activities and excessive noise that annoys residents, upsets neighbors, and interferes with the enjoyment of surrounding residences.
Types of Noise Complaints
Excessive noise is a subjective term and what is considered excessive may vary between individuals and even city departments. Here are some common noise complaints:
Constant barking can be a nuisance for neighbors. If a dog’s barking is loud, frequent, or regular, it can be classified as a noise disturbance. To prevent this, the dog owner should be aware of the dog’s behavior while they are away and take measures to minimize the barking. If the tenant is unaware of their dog’s barking, they can set up a camera to see the behavior.
Only during specific hours of the day, usually during business hours, is construction noise from house improvements authorized. When construction noise is permitted, especially close to inhabited real estate, there are often local laws and occasionally HOA guidelines. An illustration of excessive noise from construction workers would be a jackhammer going off in the middle of the night in a residential neighborhood.
As the noise of guests can reverberate into the yards and residences of close neighbors, house parties are a frequent cause of noise complaints. Because of the potential for property damage and drug misuse that may accompany them, as well as the noise disruptions that they can generate, many landlords have nightmares about rowdy house parties in their rental property.
Loud Music and Sound
Music that is played loudly can be a common source of noise complaints, as residents may not realize the impact their sound has on neighbors. If a tenant is a music enthusiast or has a band that practices in their rental unit, consider improving the property’s insulation and windows to reduce noise transmission.
Fireworks can cause disturbance in some neighborhoods, especially during holidays, but some individuals enjoy setting them off year-round. They also pose a fire risk, making fireworks noise complaints an important concern. Note that fireworks are illegal in most cities.
Noise from revving vehicles, loud car radios, or constant vehicle movements can result in noise complaints. Whether it’s a motorcycle or a noisy neighbor who fails to maintain a quiet car muffler, excessive vehicle noise can disrupt the peace of a quiet night.
How to Complain About Noise Disturbance?
What should you do if your tenants complain that a neighbor is making noise? The tenant’s right to peace and quiet pleasure is partially your obligation as the landlord. You can submit a noise complaint with the HOA, city, or county where the home is located if a noisy neighbor is preventing you from enjoying the peace and quiet.
A police officer would often visit the scene of a noise complaint to examine the cause of the noise and advise the neighbor to regulate or at least restrict their noise disruptions to normal hours.
Look into the noise regulations in your area first. File a complaint with your municipal services if the noise complaint meets the criteria for unlawful or restricted noise. Call the sheriff’s department’s non-emergency phone number to report a noise issue if a search for “submit a noise complaint” with the name of your city or county turns up nothing.
How to Handle Noise Complaints in Your Rental Property?
As a property manager, you are responsible for addressing noise complaints regarding your tenants. Here are some steps to handle the situation effectively:
Calmly Start by calmly asking your tenants what is going on. Gather information like what the noise was, at what time it happened, and if they are aware of it. Let them know that you have received a noise complaint, but avoid calling it a complaint. Ask for their side of the story and see if they can resolve the issue.
Seek a Solution
If the noise is necessary (e.g. a musician practicing), work out a compromise such as quiet hours or limiting the duration of noisy activities. Consider finding ways to minimize the impact on neighbors, such as scheduling lawn work during daytime hours or reducing the volume of music during cardio workouts.
Inform of Legal Authority
If the tenant refuses to stop making noise or acknowledge the issue, inform them of the legal risks involved, such as fines, jail time, and violation of lease terms, which could lead to eviction.
Take Appropriate Action
If the tenant continues to be a problem, take necessary steps to assist law enforcement or move forward with eviction proceedings if needed.
A Police Report of Noise Complaints: What to Do
What happens if police are called to your door due to a noise complaint from a tenant? Working with law enforcement and your renters to find a solution is always preferable. If you think your renter is respectful and cooperative, you can inform them of the police’s attention being drawn to their loudness without posing a direct threat.
Keep an eye out if you have decent renters who have reported a neighbor’s loudness to the police. If neighboring noise consistently disturbs your renters’ quiet pleasure or endangers the public, they may, in the worst situation, be able to terminate their contract.
How many Noise Complaints Before Eviction in California?
In California, the number of noise complaints required before eviction can vary depending on the specific circumstances and local ordinances. There is no fixed number of noise complaints that automatically lead to eviction. Instead, the process typically involves a series of steps, including warnings, notices to cease the noise, and potential legal action.
Landlords and tenants are encouraged to resolve noise-related issues through communication and negotiation before resorting to eviction. It’s advisable to consult with local housing authorities or legal professionals for accurate information regarding noise-related evictions in specific jurisdictions within California.
However, If a tenant is found to be in violation of this clause on three separate documented occasions, the noisy tenant is in breach of the rental or lease agreement and may be evicted for cause.
In conclusion, managing noise complaints in rental properties can be challenging, but by implementing clear communication channels, setting clear rules and expectations, addressing the issue promptly, and being fair and impartial, landlords and property managers can effectively handle these situations and maintain positive tenant relationships. By following these guidelines, rental property owners can create a peaceful living environment for all tenants, while avoiding legal and financial disputes.