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Peace and Quiet: Preventing and Managing Noise Pollution

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Posted by Pete Evering on February 26, 2021
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Peace and Quiet: Preventing and Managing Noise Pollution

Noise pollution is a common problem for rental properties in urban and suburban areas, specifically for apartment complexes and large commercial buildings. Any kind of noise or sound that is audible on the property and not controllable by the tenants is considered noise pollution. As more and more people are now working from home, tackling noise pollution is a higher priority for property owners. Landlords and property managers are getting more noise complaints this year than in the past, so it is imperative for landlords to know common sources of noise pollution, how to take responsibility for it, and ways to reduce it.

Types of Noise Pollution

When it comes to noise on a rental property, there are four main types of noise problems that can each be handled differently:

  • Unit-interior: This is one of the most common types of noise problems for apartment-style or commercial rental buildings and refers to noise coming from within a rental unit. Often times, tenants can hear noise from their neighbors in nearby units with the windows and doors closed. It can also be caused by noisy appliances and electronics.
  • Common area: For large rental buildings, common areas are a typical place for noise to be an issue, since many different tenants with different preferences are sharing the same living space. Shared amenities like gyms, working spaces, or lounges will produce high noise levels on a regular basis. This category also covers spaces like hallways and elevators where tenants can be noisy outside of their actual unit.
  • On property: When the source of the noise is located anywhere else on the property grounds, from a parking lot to an on-site leasing office, it is considered on-property noise pollution. Consider issues like excessive noise from an older air conditioning unit or disruptions that may occur during property maintenance, cleaning, or yard work.
  • Off property: This refers to any source of noise that is not on the actual property, such as traffic from nearby roads. In urban areas, this is common and unavoidable, and often expected when tenants move in. Of course, there are always unforeseeable events like construction or community festivals that can put a strain on tenants.

How to Deal with Noise Pollution

Depending on the source of the noise, there are a variety of ways you can mitigate sound pollution and maintain peaceful energy in your rental properties:

  1. Prevent it altogether by improving sound insulation: Rather than controlling the environment, strengthen the sound insulation within rental units. This includes any kind of acoustic treatment in the walls, properly sealed doors and windows, or carpeting. This is an important modern investment because there will always be sources of noise pollution that you can’t control. With more tenants staying home during the day and requiring a quiet workspace, a little sound insulation can go a long a way.
  2. Control noise levels on your property: For multifamily and commercial complexes, set and enforce building-wide rules. Limit noise levels heavily during nighttime hours or opt to limit or regulate events that are likely to produce disruptive noise levels. Make the rules clear: notify tenants upon move-in and post signs in common areas with reminders of the regulations.
  3. Get to know your neighbors: If your property shares close borders with other businesses or real estate, get acquainted with the owners or managers of that property. Being comfortable and open with neighbors gives you the opportunity to discuss noise issues and reach cooperative solutions should problems arise.
  4. Include noise pollution clause in the lease: Clear-cut expectations are the best protection for any real estate issue, and noise pollution is no exception. Create a lease clause to list the noise level rules and procedures for noise complaints. Delineating a clear process for dealing with noise protects both the landlord and the tenant; the tenant knows what to expect, and the landlord or property manager is obligated to address the problem to a reasonable extent. It also gives the owner the power to evict or enforce consequences for repeated noise offenders. Noisy tenants damage renting quality for all other renters and can harm your business.
  5. Keep tenants informed: Notify tenants of scheduled maintenance and cleaning events so they can prepare for potential disruption. This is increasingly essential with renters that are at home more often and expect a quiet working environment. Additionally, discuss with tenants your limitations as a landlord/manager to reduce noise. Largely, noise pollution is out of the landlord’s control; there is only so much that can be done. Be sure tenants are aware that there cannot be a guarantee that problems like noise will always be resolved.

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