The most common complaint that landlord receive are noise complaints such as loud music, loud televisions, stomping, yelling or excessive noise after 10pm. These complaints can be difficult to handle as sounds decibels are hard to monitor and as the complaints can occur at various times throughout the day or in the middle of night. Also, it can be difficult to determine is the complaining tenant is being hyper-sensitive or if there is really a case of a nuisance noisy neighbor.
As tenants are entitled to live free of unreasonable disturbance, it is the landlord responsibility to make sure that all complaints are addressed. However, how do you best handle these situations with not upsetting either tenant?
First you must determine the legitimacy of the complaint and the best way to do so is to respond quickly as this gives you the best chance of witnessing the noise first hand. However, if you are unable to catch the disturbance in action, speak with the supposed culprit as every story has two sides. If the stories aren’t matching up, you could always consult other tenants to see if they have had similar experiences to the complaining tenant.
If other tenants have noticed the noise, then it’s most likely that the complaint is valid and further steps will need to be taken. However, if no other tenants have noticed the noise, it may be necessary to let the complaining tenant down easy. The best way to do this is to make sure that the complaining tenant knows that you have investigated the complaint, spoken with the offending tenant, and that you have determined the noise to be from average, “normal daily living”.
It is also wise to make sure to keep a record of the complaints and your action, in case the situation escalates and one of the tenant starts looking for rent abatement. This is best done by having tenant submit noise complaints in writing and keeping a copy of any written warning that is give to the offending tenant.
However, the best way to avoid noise complaints are by setting the standards in the lease and letting the lease do the hard work. By including a clause about “Quiet Enjoyment” in your lease, the expectations and consequences of breaking this clause will be outlined as most tenants will comply as failure to do so can result in eviction.
Consult local regulation to find if there are already establish quiet times in place and make sure your “Quiet Enjoyment” clause follows these guidelines. If no local regulations are set, it is wise to clearly state what quiet hours the tenants are expected to adhere to in the lease agreement. As lease agreements are designed for when situations go south, it best to make sure that the expectation are clear and to review this clause with the new tenant on move it. The best lease is not the lease that must be enforced but the lease you never have too.
When it comes to noise complaints, a smart landlord response promptly to best address the situation, speaks to all parties and keeps records of all incidents. An even smarter landlord knows that the lease is the strongest weapon when addressing noise complaints. By including a “Quiet Enjoyment” clause in the lease, the expectations and consequences are outlined at moved in and your tenants will know what is expected. Tenants in the know are much more likely to accept the terms and are less likely to be the cause of noise complaints in the future.
For more tips and tricks on how to reduce and handle noise complaints check out these articles below.