What to do about problem neighbor ?

15 Replies

Own a duplex in Westland Michigan . The one side called me today and said she is moving out , lease is up , great tenant . Sad to see her go. She said she is moving out due to the neighbor , the other side of duplex , playing music all night etc . They both pay great , but I just know the loud neighbor will be a problem for any future tenant I move in .neighbor is month to month . Should I evict ? Raise rent to a point where they leave on their own?

Im gonna follow this discussion. 

So what are you as a landlord legally aloud to do? Can you evict tenant for being loud? IF you were to evict them for noise... I would think you should build up a bit of paperwork in case you need to defend your self in front of a judge. maybe something in writing from past tenant. maybe a couple calls to police for noise complaints. have you talked to tenant about the issue? Id document that. Im just thinking that if I was the tenant and I was just a noisy guy that stomped around and had some music on all hours, I might be pissed to get an eviction notice, might be unfair to me, I pay all my rent on time. they might try small claims court. 

I would try to have a discussion with the loud tenant first. From what you described, it seems as though this is the first you’re hearing about it. Maybe he doesn’t realize how loud his music really is. He could be slightly hard of hearing. I wouldn’t evict without first trying to resolve the issue.
If the neighbor has no lease, out here n CA, you don’t need any other reason to evict him. If that’s the case in Michigan just serve him n find someone else. Good luck, you don’t have a big problem.
Originally posted by @Chris Szepessy :
I would try to have a discussion with the loud tenant first. From what you described, it seems as though this is the first you’re hearing about it. Maybe he doesn’t realize how loud his music really is. He could be slightly hard of hearing. I wouldn’t evict without first trying to resolve the issue.

 I've been down the "have a discussion with the tenant" road. They will tell you "yes", and do the opposite within a week.

If they are M2M give them notice to non renew. You would be wasting your time trying to correct the noise problem. Noisy tenants don't care about other people and will not comply with your requests. Trying to teach them anything will only waste time. Get rid of them.

I would talk to the tenant and verify the problem exists. Maybe nobody complained to them and they don't even realize they were being that loud.

In Idaho there is a "quiet enjoyment" clause in leases and supported by state law. If the tenant is great otherwise, why jump to eviction? Talk to them, ask them to knock it off so that they don't put you in a position where you are forced to act. Tell the new tenant on the other side to let you know immediately if this behavior continues. If it does, then you act and the evictee made that choice of their own accord. 

It depends on what kind of loud it is, what hours it is happening, and to some extent how well the building buffers for noise.

If there is noise from children you can't evict for that. The law recognizes that kids make noise and there isn't much to be done about that. If there isn't much to insulate the noise from one apartment to the other than it may genuinely be a case that the tenant isn't playing overly loud music. I have been in places where I was able to hear the next door neighbor having a normal volume conversation through the wall. If that is the case I would think about getting some insulation blown in.

Then there is the time. If the music is happening during the day and evening, and not going past say 9 pm, that seems pretty normal. 

Also, the leaving tenant could just be hypersensitive. Some people think they are entitled to silence. Good luck to them.

I wouldn't necessarily penalize a good tenant without exploring all of the options.

Unfortunately half of this problem is beyond the repair stage. 

"problem neighbor" situations seem to go from 0 to 100 on paper- meaning the problem has been going on for weeks / months, but nobody has reported the problem so there is really no official track record of anything going on.  To the cops, or to the landlord, it seems like the problem came out of the blue when all of the sudden your good tenant decides to move out.  Had he/she reported the issue you likely would have got involved and solved the problem before it got to the point where now you're going to be dealing with a vacancy.

Really the solution is to inform your tenants to report bad-neighbor issues to you or to the police.

I have some horrible neighbors that were constantly having all-night house parties starting this spring.  Local police received nearly 3 dozen complaints and made 10 house visits within a 4 week period - this created a track record for the police to truly determine there was a problem.  Fastforward to mid-summer, the city filed charges against the homeowner and put multiple $500 nuisance liens on the property, with a provision that every complaint they receive immediately triggers another $500 lien with no recourse for the homeowner.

Voila - problem solved, but only because we created a track record of the problem.

I would send them a "notice" letter.  Spell out that they are infringing on the quiet enjoyment of the property residents.   They may not know it was even a problem.  I ALWAYS, give the tenant the benefit of the doubt.  I would hate to get kicked out of my home for something I didn't know was happening that I could have easily have corrected if someone asked.  The tenants are your customers.  

Send it certified mail, and document that you sent it.  If the problem continues, you can think about removing them.  Depending on your laws, on a M2M you may be able to just not renew their lease, either way you'll have the certified notice in your file if you need it for court purposes.

Originally posted by @Nathan G. :

I would talk to the tenant and verify the problem exists. Maybe nobody complained to them and they don't even realize they were being that loud.

 This is what I would do as well, or try to make a few surprise visits to the site (outside) and see if I could hear any music. Sometimes these things are just petty, and sometimes they're structural (i.e. you have paper-thin walls without any insulation or sound barriers). I have lived in places where I could hear conversations next door in a normal voice volume. 

If it's obvious there's a problem, then yes, I would make it clear that noise that disturbs their neighbors outside of what is normal (i.e. they can cut the grass) is not tolerated. And then give them the boot when they can't abide. 

Originally posted by @Joshua B. :
Originally posted by @Chris Szepessy:
I would try to have a discussion with the loud tenant first. From what you described, it seems as though this is the first you’re hearing about it. Maybe he doesn’t realize how loud his music really is. He could be slightly hard of hearing. I wouldn’t evict without first trying to resolve the issue.

 I've been down the "have a discussion with the tenant" road. They will tell you "yes", and do the opposite within a week.

 I agree, however, evicting someone (who otherwise seems like a good tenant) without positively knowing there's an issue I don't think is right either. 

Do as everyone has suggested and give notice to the offending tenant. Do not expect to solve the problem. People never change. Instruct your new tenant to report to you every time they have a noise issue. You can then give the noisy tenant a notice to non renew a couple of months from now.

Originally posted by @Chris Szepessy :
Originally posted by @Joshua Birk:
Originally posted by @Chris Szepessy:
I would try to have a discussion with the loud tenant first. From what you described, it seems as though this is the first you’re hearing about it. Maybe he doesn’t realize how loud his music really is. He could be slightly hard of hearing. I wouldn’t evict without first trying to resolve the issue.

 I've been down the "have a discussion with the tenant" road. They will tell you "yes", and do the opposite within a week.

 I agree, however, evicting someone (who otherwise seems like a good tenant) without positively knowing there's an issue I don't think is right either. 

 Non-renewal of a lease is not the same as an eviction.