Noisy Tenants and a Landlord's Responsibility

Keeping the Peace in Your Rental

Noisy people in multi-story building.

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Noise is one of the most common complaints a landlord will get from tenants. It can be difficult to control the noise level at a property since many landlords do not actually live there. However, there are legal rights a landlord does have when dealing with noisy tenants.

There are endless ways that noise can be created, and some of the most common sources of noise complaints include:

  • Loud music or television
  • Heavy walking, running, or stomping overhead
  • Yelling
  • Excessive noise after 10 p.m.
  • Noise from pets
  • Children playing, running, or yelling
  • Children crying
  • Noise from gatherings in front of or behind a property
  • Noise from parties
  • Noise from neighbors or others who are not tenants

Investigating Complaints

If a tenant is disrupting other tenants in a rental property, it is the landlord's obligation to investigate the situation and take action if necessary. Speaking to the tenant making the complaint is the first step. Landlords need to get the details: What time did the noise occur? How long did it last? Was this the first time it happened? Did they confront the tenant about it?

Speaking to the supposed noisemaker is the next step. They may be unaware that they were disrupting other tenants or they may be unapologetic. Either way, landlords need to make the tenant aware that there is a noise complaint against them. If this is their first offense, a warning might be sufficient.

It's also a good idea for landlords to speak to any other tenants in the property and ask them if they have heard any excessive or loud noises on the property. The accused tenants could have had a couple of people over one night which led to excessive noise, or they may be chronically playing their music loudly.

Persistent Problems

Landlords should have a clause in their leases regarding noise violations and quiet hours. Tenants who are the subject of complaints may need reminders that repeated noise violations are a breach of their lease agreement.

It's a good idea to have a quiet hours policy in the lease. Depending on the exact wording of the policy and local and state laws, landlords may be able to fine tenants for failing to follow the agreement or even evict the tenant for breaching the lease.

For repeated offenses, landlords can provide tenants with a cure or quit notice, which requires them to quit the behavior that is breaching the lease by a certain date or be subject to eviction. If the noise still does not stop, landlords may be forced to evict the tenant. If their behavior is affecting the quality of life of the other tenants, it is better to rid the property of the problem rather than lose other respectful tenants.

Noisy Neighbors

In some circumstances, the source of a tenant's noise complaint may be outside of the landlord's control. If a tenant is complaining about noise outside of the property, a landlord can suggest that the tenant speak directly to the individual who is making the noise. The neighbor may not realize that their actions are affecting someone else until it is brought to their attention.

If the offender still has not stopped his behavior after being confronted by the tenant, the landlord also can try to approach the individual. If the offending party lives in a rental, it's a good idea to contact the fellow landlord. She might be more responsive because she does not want to get a bad reputation in the neighborhood.

If nothing changes still, it might be necessary to contact law enforcement. It's possible a local noise ordinance is being violated, especially if the noise persists after a certain hour.

Additionally, landlords can take measures to try and reduce exterior noise such as planting shrubs or adding insulation or double-pane windows.