When tenants complain about noise

Someone’s playing loud music again. Someone else cranks up the volume on their television. Apparently you’ve got heavy walkers living upstairs and noisy neighbors who aren’t even your tenants. Somehow you’re supposed to fix it. Now. So what’s a property manager to do?

If the problem is a physical one, like the noise from the road is unbearable, or doors are slamming too often, see if you can fix the problem with upgrades to the building. Installing better windows, soundproofing insulation, planting shrubs or slow self-closing hinges might resolve some of your noise issues.

When the noise complaint stems from one of your other tenants, you’ll have to do a little more to resolve the issue. Act quickly and stay in close communication with both parties so that everyone understands that you take the issue seriously and want to resolve it for everyone’s benefit. Try to keep tempers from flaring by listening carefully to both sides. Do not force one side to confront the other to resolve the issue themselves. That can create undue tension and could escalate the situation unnecessarily. Determine if the complaint has merit by speaking with the tenant in question and with other tenants at the property. Has anyone else heard excessive noise? Is it an ongoing issue or does it appear that the noise was a one-time occurrence? Can you identify the source of the noise and are you able to witness it first-hand?

If it’s determined that the noise is from normal activity, like cooking or walking, are there steps you can do to help reduce the noise levels, like installing carpet or adding area rugs? Could the person on the first floor run a fan a a white noise machine to help cancel out the sounds? Be empathetic to both the person who is the subject of the complaint and the one disturbed by the noise, and regularly communicate the steps that are being taken to resolve the issue.

Having an enforceable Quiet Hours clause in your lease can help. Repeated violations of the quiet hours can subject the offending tenant to penalties and/or breach of lease terms. Sometimes getting rid of a troublesome tenant is the only cure for keeping the good, respectful tenants in place. If the problem continues despite everything you’ve tried, you may choose to give the tenant a Cure or Quit notice, if provided for in your lease. Allowing a noisy tenant to choose to wither simmer down or leave is sometimes the easiest solution of all.