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When Tenants are Noisy Neighbors

You might rent a house in the country to the noisiest people on earth, and it doesn't matter if no one can hear them. But in rental communities and houses in urban and suburban neighborhoods, when your tenants become a nuisance for the rest of the community with loud parties, shouting, music, or a garage band, chances are you are going to hear about it.

If you have noisy tenants, several things might happen. You might get a written complaint from the neighborhood HOA, the city, or a building manager. If you ignore the complaints, you could be on the hook for some fines.

What should your response be when you get a complaint about noisy tenants?

First, determine if the complaint is valid. Tenants are allowed to live their lives, and sometimes this means making noise. Find out first if the tenant has been excessively noisy or disruptive.

Are there regulations about decibel levels? If there are regulations, the issuer of the complaint should measure noise levels. Or you can just use common sense.

Common complaints that require common sense might include loud parties. If a party is loud and ends at 11 pm, it's not really complaint worthy unless there is crashing loud music beyond a reasonable level. If there are frequent parties until late at night, that is a complaint that needs to be addressed with the tenant.

Sometimes noise complaints are about the upstairs tenant moving around too much. Walking at any hour is not worth complaining about, but if the tenant is jumping and exercising at late hours, their neighbor has a valid complaint.

Frequency also matters. An occasional barking dog is to be expected. A dog that barks constantly is a nuisance. The same holds for loud arguments. An occasional argument might get loud, but if the arguments are frequent or result in physical violence, a complaint needs to be addressed.

Noise complaints need to be addressed immediately. Tell the person making the complaint what you have done to determine if the tenant is guilty of a noise violation. If you find that they are not, tell the complainant that you didn't find anything to support the complaint.

If your tenant is making noise, if you've received multiple complaints, you may want drive by the property to witness the behavior yourself. Sometimes you can solve a problem easily, such as eliminating noise in an upstairs apartment by putting down carpeting. Sometimes the tenant has to adjust their actions, or face eviction.

Have a clause in your lease to prevent issues with noise and disruption, or establish quiet hours in the lease. If the tenant violates the clause, you can base your actions on lease terms, possibly fining them for each occurrence or having grounds to evict.

By Mary Clark

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