Sometimes landlords end up with loud tenants and might find themselves at the receiving end of a noise complaint. These can come from an HOA member, another tenant, a building supervisor, or a neighbor.
There are steps you, the landlord, can take when you receive the initial noise complaint. You shouldn’t automatically assign blame to the tenant accused of causing the noise. If you trust the complaint and discover later on that the offender wasn’t your tenant, it can create an air of distrust. The following is a guide on how to handle noise complaints:
Check the Complaint
Confronting your renter without a careful evaluation can result in a bad landlord-tenant relationship. It’s vital to take a step back and do your own research. There are, therefore, several things you must do upon receiving a noise complaint:
- Check if the complaint legitimate
- Determine how serious the situation is
- See if it’s a one-time thing or a frequent occurrence
You can also visit your city’s jurisdictions to find out if there are noise level limits or an ordinance restricting tenants from going over certain decibel limits.
If the Complaint is Valid
Upon completing your investigation, you may learn that the noise complaint is legitimate. If this is the case, you need to take matters into your hands. However, the degree of action should match the incident
If it’s the first complaint and it was due to a party where the noise level can sometimes be hard to contain then you can issue a simple warning. But if it’s a repetitive complaint and the tenants do not show signs of change, you can consider handing them a notice of eviction. This, however, should be taken as the last resort.
If your investigation reveals who caused the noise, the complainant must be advised to communicate with the culprit. Find out from other tenants whether they were also disturbed by noise.
If the Complaint is Not Valid
If your investigation reveals that the noise complaint is invalid or the noise came from another source, contact the complainant directly. Hand your proof and effectively communicate with the tenant. Reiterate that the complaint is invalid.
You can’t expect your renters to be quiet as a mouse all the time. There may be situations where a given degree of noise is acceptable, such as:
- Parties – You can allow renters to invite a few people over for a party and some music. This does not deserve any complaint. However, if the gatherings are too frequent and too much noise is made past regular bedtime hours, you should notify the tenants.
- Arguments – Conflicts are expected so you may hear them from time to time. But this shouldn’t be a normal occurrence. If this happens often, you should take time to inform the people involved to keep the noise down.
- Pets – Another source of noise comes from tenants with pets whose dogs bark or cats meow occasionally. This is acceptable but if the noise is incessant, disturbing the sleep of other residents then it’s time to perform an investigation. Speak with the tenant who owns the pet. If you don’t accommodate pets and a complaint about a barking dog was issued, it’s time to review the situation.
- Footsteps – In multi-level buildings, it’s common to hear footsteps of other occupants living above you, even during nighttime. However, when footsteps generate a loud thumping sound, you can consider a complaint.
Insert a Clause in your Lease
A way to reduce noise complaints is by having a clause in your leasing agreement pertaining to noise. You can outline the terms and conditions for tenants to adhere to. Detailing the consequences makes them conscious of limiting noise disturbances. The following are examples of noise clauses:
Here are some clauses you could include regarding disturbances:
- It’s expected for tenants to exercise a reasonable level of noise and prevent disturbances in the building or neighborhood.
- It’s expected for tenants to avoid producing disruptive noise caused by loud music, singing, or screaming. It’s also recommended to keep the volume of appliances and musical instruments low to limit disturbing other occupants.
- It’s expected for tenants to do their best to cooperate with other tenants in maintaining a peaceful atmosphere and avoid disturbing behavior that encroaches on the privacy of other residents.
- It’s expected for tenants to practice non-retaliation when discovering they’ve been reported for complaints. Additionally, the tenants are fully agreeable to paying a fine or having the tenancy ended if guilty of violating the terms of the lease.
Here are some examples of guest clauses:
- It’s the tenant’s duty to monitor the conduct and behavior of guests staying in the unit.
- Tenants are permitted to accept guests, provided guidelines are followed. Guidelines can include having only 2 overnight guests per night, written permission from landlords should guests stay more than 3 consecutive nights, and social events should be kept inside the rental space. Common areas of the property are off-limits.
- Occupants whose names are not on the lease are unauthorized to stay without prior approval from the landlord. The tenant must pay a penalty or can be evicted for violating the leasing terms and conditions.
Receiving a noise complaint requires proper investigation. As a landlord, you must be thorough in evaluating the complaint to check if the complaint is legitimate. If it is, you can decide to apply suitable discipline but it should match the level of the complaint.
After notifying the renter and the behavior still continues, you can proceed with an eviction procedure. Documentation is required every step of the way so you can prove your side if a lawsuit is filed against you for unjustified eviction.
If you would like help managing your rental properties, reach out to the team at Realty Management Associates Inc. today!