Dealing with Noisy Tenants
Most tenants expect a reasonable amount of quiet from their home, and noise complaints are one of the most common issues brought to landlords. If you’ve rented your property to noisy tenants, you could be notified in a number of ways. Whether from another tenant, through email, or as a formal citation from the local authorities, nuisance complaints can add up and eventually result in fines and loss of tenant retention.
The easiest way to protect yourself from issues with your tenants over noise complaints is to be sure the guidelines and steps to resolve a complaint are clearly outlined in your lease. The lease should further stipulate that any fees or fines incurred are the tenant’s responsibility.
Before confronting a tenant, you’ll want to be sure the complaint is valid and not the result of a personal matter. Unfortunately, many noise complaints are related to disturbances that happened in the middle of the night, or where the source of noise is difficult determine with certainty, or even where the complainant is being overly sensitive. Some individuals are not well-equipped for multi-family living, and will complain about what would otherwise be considered normal activity from neighbors, and in these cases it is up to the landlord to decide where to intervene.
If your property is part of an HOA, or if neighborhood or city ordinances have a noise restriction, then your tenants should be able to respect and abide by the rules or laws. Where there are no set restrictions for noise level, there are still some basic etiquette measures to consider.
Late-night parties and events on an occasional evening or weekend can be acceptable, but regular loud gatherings that go until the sun rises would be worthy of objection. Tenants on upper levels may create some noise when walking regardless of the time of day, but running through the apartment in the middle of the night should be avoided. If you allow pets and have a tenant whose dog barks incessantly, you are likely to receive complaints, though the occasional barking is to be expected.
If you find that the complaint is for a minor reason, or something that you or the city ordinances would not consider valid, then you’ll want to notify the party who complained. Let them know that you visited the property, or what other measures were taken to determine that there was not an issue.
For complaints that are received by a governing body or the HOA, or complaints that you have validated personally, you’ll need to address the offending tenant. Ideally, by explaining the concerns that have been addressed, and by explaining that you have witnessed the disturbance as well, the issue will be corrected. You can make suggestions where appropriate, such as placing a rug to dampen footsteps, reducing the number of guests present, or by holding gatherings with a set end time. Some complaints may warrant offering to move the offender (or the complainant) to another unit.
Noise complaints can escalate quickly whether they are valid or not. If you receive a complaint that your tenant Is being a nuisance, having a plan in place can help to save you time and hassle.
- Make sure to include noise in your lease agreement.
The first step is always to be sure you are covered, and the easiest way to do this is to clearly outline in your lease the rules and regulations for your property in regards to noise level. Evicting either a noisy tenant or a habitual complainer should be a last resort, but also should be an option that is listed in the lease.
- Take Prompt Action
You’re more likely to witness the noise yourself if you act quickly. This also shows your tenants and the complainant that you are in process, and will ideally stop receipt of any further complaints while you investigate.
- Suggest Solutions
Some issues are easy to resolve and can be handled through a conversation with the noisy tenant, who may not have known that a neighbor complained. The addition of a white noise machine, an additional rug, or even a move to another unit may be your best answer. Ideally, a compromise can be reached that will satisfy all parties while also showing your tenants that you are responsive to their concerns.
Landlords are responsible for providing livable conditions and for helping to maintain peace among renters. If you are presented with an issue among tenants, make sure to handle the concern before the situation escalates and causes further conflict and tenant retention issues. Keep in mind as well that complaints received from local officials and/or HOAs carry the added weight of potential fines, and may cause the need for more severe action, up to evicting the tenant if necessary.
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