How to Deal With Noisy Tenants in Your Apartment Building

Written on December 21, 2016 by , updated on December 3, 2019

Midnight GuitaristEvery renter deserves peace and quiet. But people interpret “quiet” in different ways, which can lead to uncomfortable situations for landlords.

For example, consider this true story that I call “The Case of the Midnight Guitarist.” The landlord, a friend of mine who owns several properties in California’s San Lorenzo Valley, told me about a musician who lived in one of two rental units in a quiet, creek-side setting.

My landlord friend asked the guitarist to wear headphones, but he refused. All the renters had signed a standard rental agreement that failed to address noise issues, so my friend faced a quandary: How to ensure that every tenant experienced quiet enjoyment without violating the guitarist’s rights?

What is Quiet Enjoyment?

An implied warranty between the tenant and landlord, a provision for “quiet enjoyment” may contain the word “quiet,” but that doesn’t necessarily proscribe noise. It simply means that the tenant is entitled to undisturbed use of the premises. Courts read this warranty into every lease, whether or not it’s expressly stated.

Among the benefits it guarantees are:

  • Use of all amenities supplied with the unit.
    If an appliance breaks, the landlord has to fix it.
  • Unimpeded access to the unit.
    The landlord is expected to keep the driveway clear and all doors and lock sets in good working order.
  • Freedom from intrusion.
    In the absence of lease violations or overt damage to the premises, tenants have a right to privacy, which includes freedom from an unreasonable number of landlord visits.
  • Peace and quiet.
    The landlord must address any disturbing noise within his or her control, such as a chirping smoke alarm.

One Person’s Noise is Another’s Music

It’s difficult to make everyone happy all the time. In the case of the midnight guitarist, one set of tenants was disturbed. But the guitarist viewed the noise he created as inspiring. As far as he was concerned, his guitar playing constituted quiet enjoyment of the premises.

After my friend received several complaints, he voluntarily granted the aggrieved tenants a rent reduction to encourage them to stay. My friend lost money, because of his failure to address noise in the lease.

A properly worded lease can provide much-needed leverage.

The landlord’s bottom line was affected the most, because he failed to address noise in the lease.

Avoid Generic Rental Agreements

My friend used a generic California rental agreement downloaded from the internet. It contained no specific quiet enjoyment clause and did not address noise at all. Covering little more than rental payments, late fees, and security deposits, it left most other issues—such as maintenance and usage guidelines—open.

There’s nothing “free” about a free lease template. It’ll cost you thousands of dollars in damages.

More sophisticated leases usually contain a quiet enjoyment clause, but it generally covers the use of the unit itself—not the impact of the tenant’s use on other renters. It is possible, however, to include language concerning noise in that clause. Moreover, the clause can contain a caveat, such as “subject to all terms and provisions of this lease,” and the lease can address potential disturbances in a separate clause.

Enforce Quiet Hours

An effective way to ensure equal enjoyment of quiet time for all tenants is to specify hours during which noise is to be kept to a minimum. These hours may differ on weekdays and weekends, but they typically begin at 10 p.m. The lease should specify that “quiet time” applies to guests as well as tenants.

Also check with your local county or town code enforcement office. They might already have noise ordinances in place, which you could enforce. The great thing about noise ordinances is that if a tenant doesn’t comply, you can call the police and they will enforce it for you.

Resolving Disputes

Even if all renters agree to a “quiet hours” clause, it can be difficult to resolve a dispute. Different people tend to have different noise thresholds.

Landlords typically use some of the following criteria to help them adjudicate noise complaints:

  • Multiple complaints.
    Has more than one tenant complained? Multiple complaints carry more weight than one from a (possibly oversensitive) individual.
  • Recurring issues.
    Are complaints recurring? This points to a pattern of willful disturbance.
  • Source of the noise.
    Is the noise a product of everyday activities? An 80% carpet rule can help prevent noise disturbances in the case of multistory dwellings.
  • Actions to remedy.
    Have any steps been taken to address the source of the noise? The Midnight Guitarist, for example, may have tried turning down the volume.
  • Documentation and credibility.
    Has the complaining tenant documented instances of disturbances? Dates, times, and estimates of noise levels are all helpful.


The quiet hours lease clause should also specify penalties for violation. Eviction should be an option but not the only one. A monetary penalty should prevent recurrences in most cases.

A Sample “Quiet Enjoyment” Clause

While the exact language to use in a quiet hours clause may vary from state to state, a typical one might look something like the following:

Bottom Line

Keeping the peace among tenants with different noise tolerances must done. Clear language in the lease makes the job easier and may save landlords money.

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15 CommentsLeave a Comment


    This problem can be easily solved by Custom Rental Agreement.

    “Tenant may not disturb the quiet enjoyment of any other tenant in the building or surrounding neighbors.”

    This part of the “Quiet Enjoyment” clause should actually be enough, but it can be strengthened with additional explanation, if needed.

    • Debbie Gentle

      What about children that live above you in an apartment building who run all day and make noise after 10 p.m.

      • Lakeisha n barne

        What about kids live above you who run after 9pm and leasing office don’t do nothing

      • Erich Flake

        I’m in the exact same boat. The tenant above me has a lease agreement for one individual, but breaks the lease agreement by having his 5 children live there. They run and stomp and drag furniture around from 6am to 3am at times. I’m pulling my hair out because the landlord won’t help

  • SeniorGal in LeesburgFL

    I recently moved into a senior apt in Leesburg FL after waiting nearly 9 mos. Alas when I reported to the office the first few days of hearing a loud stereo, feeling the building had a proverbial heartbeat and then knocking on the neighbor’s door to ask nicely to turn down that stereo. Oh, not the stereo, but the TV with surround sound … 7 speakers + subwoofer. It runs pretty much 24/7 at various sound levels. I am now irritable, sleep-deprived, and visiting primary care doctor with referrals to audiologist and sleep study. Have made numerous “complaints” already to office and yet … I keep hearing it. Like the movie theater at times or a distant train on the tracks.

    • Lynn

      i am considering moving to senior residential unit and the neighbor plays TV very loud. she is probably hard of hearding. the Management said they talked to her and she would be more considerate. However, this is no guarantee. What happened in your situation. I am considering not moving in because of this.

  • Fed up

    The upstairs neighbors continue to create banging, heavy stomping, dragging of heavy furniture all though this house. This is excessive and my family an I cannot sleep as the startling sudden banging continues throughout the day and night with not break. I haven’t several complaints documented regarding this issue to the manager as well as video of them moving the dumpster in frontier of my door to throw away debris. I have contathe fire department due to the burning cigarettes they disposed of on my porch and on the outside bushels. They empty rug debris and unsanitary dust onto my entryway.
    When I first moved into these apartments the upstairs neighbors allowed their children and other company pour liquids onto my porch while it was used

    • Royston Bright

      Very noisy tenants above me Have you walking on the floor moving furniture slamming doors I’ve been here just for weeks and it’s just driving very stressful I spoke to the landlord actually the superintendent but it seems to fall on deaf ears can you possibly give me some advice on this matter please excuse my typing I am not very savvy with computers thank you for your time Royston

    • Ruben Gonzalez

      We recently had a problem with a Lady and her kids running in the apt upstairs all night until 2am as well as her excessive drinking and having loud company over until 4 am making very loud noise!.. The Landlord told us we had to move to an upstairs Unit which we refused!.Soon after the Lady decided to move.. The Landlord ended up renting the upstairs Apt to 2 couples and 2 other young adults who play fight all day and night!.. I don’t understand why the Landlord would rent to kids who have no Respect and No Responsibility… It’s Not right and neither is the LANDLORD!.. HELP!!!!

  • Sonia L Hawkins

    I have been patient with my neighbor, they purposely run,jump stomp move furniture and let it drop on the floor, play loud music, they wait until I get home, from work,which last about 4 hrs every night. I’ve made several complaint to the rental office and call police too. It will stop a day and things start right up. How do I file a complaint? These are 2 bedroom and it 6 people living in to bedrooms.

  • P LaBoy

    I had gone in office, called and sent many emails about the tenant in the back of me. A thin wooden fence divides our yards and laundry machines are outside the units. I live in a single floor and they live in a townhouse. There should have been a rule about how long a person can use their machines especially if they are across a tenants bedroom. They do have the quiet rule and community policies on disturbances from10pm to 10am plus pet addendum and crime free. However management doesnt seem to think that having to hear those machines more than four hours is bad for our health etc. Its like have a big speaker with a record only going whirr whirr but no music. They did this for 12 1/2 hrs twice last weekend and some in between.

  • Patty Coyle

    My upstairs neibour i complain d several times and the manager went to her but she still noise what else can i do

  • Lisa

    We have an downstairs neighbor who plays music at all hours, bass mostly, which at times has the windows shaking as well as the walls. I’ve had to resort to calling the authorities because it has become more and more intolerable, causing me to have migraines. She is now threatening me because we make noise when we walk around our apartment causing her to wake up at 6 or 7 am because my husband has to be to work between 7 and 8 am. How do we come to a compromise? Obviously living in a downstairs apartment doesn’t seem like good fit for her.

  • Terry Martin

    Mid Rise Building: Covered Parking area a truck has a modified muffler that leaves at 5:30 AM every morning. A letter was written and management was informed but nothing has changed. It is private property and authorities cannot do anything Tenant is very aware of several complaints – he taunts all with running the truck longer than necessary. Now the upstairs new neighbor – thumps around like a linebacker ( he is a large man) talks and stomps until well after midnight and talks to people on his phone on the balcony above us – the manager is a weak person and will not help- if anything she will be upset that I bang the closet doors when he gets so loud we can’t hear our TV. Thanks for any help

  • marene

    My upstairs neighbor is moving furniture, having loud obnoxious sex, absolutely smoking crack, all during the day, but she also paces anywhere from midnight to daylight, she refuses to speak to me, not to mention she’s started talking about me to other tenants. bright side, everyone knows she’s unstable, last straw tonight, I’m deep cleaning my bedroom, right below hers, I’m playing music, not offense and not too loud, shes starts banging on the floor, mind you all before 11pm, well we have no stipulation in the lease, and I’m not being obnoxious, the war has started, SOD, Black Sabbath all day, no volume limits during daylight hrs, To the victor goes the spoils, she don’t know what she started, haha

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