Constant Noise Complaints

13 Replies

Hello everyone,

I'm just needing a bit of advice on handling noise complaints. I'm a new landlord. I just bought a fourplex about 3 months ago. I live in one of the units and rent out the other 3. I'm having constant noise complaints from one of the tenants about another tenant. I've talked to both regarding quiet hours and regarding that normal conversation levels aren't too loud and the walls are thin (their bedrooms back up to each other). I'm unable to determine if the noise complaints are valid because the tenant on the other side of the possible offender never has any issues with them and also states the complaining tenant has always been very noise sensitive. 

P.S. I inherited all of these tenants.

I appreciate any advice on how to handle this. Thanks!!!

It is not your responsibility to babysit or be a referee.  Tell the tenant they if they have a noise complaint, then they should report it to the authorities.  I could see once or twice being a valid complaint, but this just looks like they can't get along no matter what.

agree with above. Next time your tenant complains about the noise tell them to call the police

Sometimes landlords get so fed up with dealing with such issues they will offer the complaining tenant the "happy clause" (i.e., "you don't seem happy here; if you want, I'll let you out of your lease and you can find another place to rent").

This tends to "draw up" certain body parts of the complaining tenant as they are sometimes under the mistaken assumption that their complaining means you get to be the "bad guy" toward the tenant they are complaining about.   The fact THEY may have to find somewhere else to rent, pack up and move will shut them up.

Folks who live in apartment/duplex/fourplex type living arrangements need to have enough common sense to understand that geeze; there are people living above/below/next to them and there IS likely to be more noise because of this.  If they don't like it their option is to consider renting a house (where they can then ***** about neighbors/others walking across their front lawn) when their current lease is up.

Gail

Many options as already suggested. It may be a good idea to consider soundproofing between the bed rooms when one tenant decides to move out.

Buy a twenty dollar box fan and give it to the noise sensitive tenant. White noise. They can face it away if they don’t like the breeze. Explain that is the only thing in your power.

I agree with @David S. and others above.  As a newbie landlord I made a couple of mistakes, one of which was babysitting my tenants and a year and a half later, I had, had enough of the inherited tenants.I more than bent over backwards and it only ended up hurting me as they pushed back on every policy with the “we didn’t do that before”….. uuhhhmmmm new management, new lease.Once you get into the habit of jumping every time tenants come complaining, you will quickly come to hate being a landlord.Somethings, can easily be mitigated by you asking that they resolve it among themselves and/or get the authorities involved.There are issues where legitimately you should get involved, noise and he said/she said is not one of them.Cheers!

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

Many options as already suggested. It may be a good idea to consider soundproofing between the bed rooms when one tenant decides to move out.

Drill a small hole through the drywall of the bedroom wall and take a peek.  You may find that there is NO insulation or soundproofing.  You will then know what your next course of action is.  It is better to increase the soundproofing then listen to complaints for the rest of the time you own the building.    You might even be able to do blown- in insulation while the tenant is in place.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

Many options as already suggested. It may be a good idea to consider soundproofing between the bed rooms when one tenant decides to move out.

Drill a small hole through the drywall of the bedroom wall and take a peek.  You may find that there is NO insulation or soundproofing.  You will then know what your next course of action is.  It is better to increase the soundproofing then listen to complaints for the rest of the time you own the building.    You might even be able to do blown- in insulation while the tenant is in place.   Do this for all the units, not just the complainer.

As other people have mentioned, you could look into adding a "Building Rules" addendum and have noise violation sections.

While you would not evict someone over a noise violation, you could tell them that it would be taken into account when they are up for a lease renewal.

Sometimes that gets the tenant's attention. Otherwise there is really nothing else you should do. If the situation escalates, the offended tenant needs to call the police. 

I might diagnose whether it is a people or property problem first

There are a good range of ideas on both already.

As a new owner, you might find out (as mentioned) if you really have a thin walled issue with noise easily transferred. 

You could have a tenant next door turn a tv to a reasonable level and see if it is discernible. Alter the volume and see when you can pick it up if at all from next door. Just communicate by cell phone for the experiment. This could tell you if you need soundproofing. If so, search BP on that topic.

But my guess is that if you live in one unit and can't hear any problems (and the tenant on the other side can't either), there may not be a building issue (it may depend some on your layout, however). 

Also, being there, you really get a chance to hear problematic noise. You are there all hours and can even step outside, walk around, work on the place, etc.. 

Can you feel a vibration of thumping base or screams from an action movie? If not, it may be you don't have tenant causing the noise problem but an overly sensitive tenant (or even a tenant conflict that has been brewing and this is just a manifestation of that).

I think I might let the complaining tenant know what you have done and are doing on the issue (with the quiet hours policy, reminders to tenants, and even looking at the walls, etc) but I would also be considering whether the inherited tenant is a good fit. It may be they need a single family or unit with more extensive soundproofing than you can provide (and you may also want to mention that). To that end, you might start preparing to not renew or give the notice if their complaining becomes too incessant or is found to be unreasonable.

Best of luck

Thanks everyone so much!!!! I probably just need to back off a bit so it's not stressing me out so much. It's harder living near everything and I think it makes everyone complain more because they feel like I'm right there. Thanks!

I am house hacking too @Christian Tallet , so I can completely relate to your situation.  It is tough but you really have to just put the blinders on, on some things, otherwise it will drive you nuts.  I really like @Michael Boyer 's very well-thought out approach. All the best. Don't let it get you down, it can be done. As far as soundproofing goes, evaluate the cost and see whether or not it will provide a ROI. In some instances it will, in others, unfortunately tenants just have to learn to be cordial to each other. I for instance have quiet hours specified in my lease, but for the most part I have not had any issues on this with my new tenants, which is more than I can say with those inherited ones that would scream at the top of their lungs at each other during intense arguments, the entire neighborhood was so grateful when I evicted them, OMG. Oh well, best of luck to you! :)

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