How to Handle Noise Complaints from Neighbors

Written on March 17, 2017 by

Noisy NeighborsIf you rent out a house in the middle of nowhere, you can rent to the noisiest tenants imaginable. Why? Because no one can hear them.

But if you rent to tenants who will live in close proximity to other people, you hope they’ll respect their neighbors’ right to quiet.

If you rent to noisy tenants, a few things might happen. You might receive a formal complaint from a building manager, a nasty email from the neighborhood HOA, or a nuisance complaint from the city if a neighbor complains to the police. If you don’t do anything about the complaints, you could receive fines until you do something.

So what should you do if you get complaints that your tenants are so loud they’re disruptive?

Related: What is the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?

Determine Whether the Complaint Is Valid

Before you confront your tenant, find out the nature of the noise complaint. Your tenant could very well be causing a disturbance, but it’s just as likely that the complainant isn’t warranted. Tenants are allowed to live their lives, and sometimes that includes making noise.

Your job is to determine whether your tenant is crossing the line by being excessively noisy.

If your jurisdiction places a limit on noise decibel levels, then your tenants should not exceed this level. If your rental property is subject to noise laws and you receive a complaint, ask the department that issued the complaint to come out and measure the noise levels to determine whether there is a valid reason for the complaint.

If you don’t have regulations, you can use some common sense measures to evaluate whether your tenants are the problem or whether the complaining neighbor is just being fussy.

Here are some examples:

  • Dinner Parties
    Having people over for a get together that ends by 11 p.m. is not complaint-worthy, but regular loud parties that go late into the night are a problem.
  • Noisy Feet
    Tenants walking around their own apartment, no matter what time of day or night, is not complaint-worthy from a downstairs neighbor, but if your tenant is jumping rope or acting out their own WrestleMania session at midnight, that’s valid.
  • Barking Dogs
    A dog that barks occasionally is not complaint-worthy, but a dog that barks incessantly all day or night is.
  • Loud Arguments
    Disagreements between partners are bound to happen, and an occasional argument is not complaint-worthy, but a nightly screaming match is.

If the Noise Complaint Isn’t Valid

Let the complaining party know that you have researched the noise complaint. Tell them what you did to determine whether your tenant is guilty of a noise violation or not. If you found out your tenant didn’t do anything wrong, let the complainant know that you didn’t find any evidence to suggest the complaint was warranted.

If the Noise Complaint Is Valid

If you’ve received multiple complaints from a variety of sources, your tenant is probably being too noisy. You might also wish to witness for yourself whether the complaints are valid by driving by your rental property and seeing for yourself.

You need to address this issue with your tenant immediately. If your tenant is being too noisy and interfering with the neighbors’ peace and quiet, you should tell your tenant to keep the noise at acceptable levels. Explain the problem and what you expect your tenant to do to resolve the problem.

Sometimes the resolution is easy. If a downstairs neighbor complains about noise coming from upstairs, for example, put down area rugs. If your tenant listens and stops the noisy behavior, problem solved. If not, and the complaints continue, you may need to evict.

Have a Clause in Your Lease

You can protect yourself from noise problems by including a noise, or quiet hours, clause in your lease. That way, if your tenant violates the noise clause, you can act based on the lease terms, such as fining them if you receive a valid noise complaint.

Here’s a sample of a noise clause from a lease, courtesy of the University of Rhode Island.

Note: This lease pertains to university students in the state of Rhode Island. You can, however, personalize your lease to meet your needs. Please consult a lawyer when preparing your lease.

Screen Tenants

The best way to ensure you’ll rent to tenants who won’t cause trouble is to screen them first. Run a background check and check references to determine whether potential tenants have a history of complaints against them. I use Cozy tenant screening, and I recommend it.

Bottom Line

If you get complaints about a noisy tenant, you need to do something about it. Don’t rush to judgment by automatically blaming your tenant. But don’t ignore the complaints, either. It’s best to come up with a compromise that everyone can live with.

Now, peace out everyone.

Please let us know in the comments your experience with noise and how you handled it!

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67 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Christen

    I live in a Duplex next to the worst neighbors ever.
    They let their children run up and down the stairs at all hours of the day.
    Always have people over, screaming and yelling. Not to mention they play their music so loud all the time at any time of the day. I’ve been woken up at 2am from their music when I have to be to work at 6am. I’ve called the police more times than I can count, nothing has been done. They haven’t even gotten a ticket or citation. I’ve called their landlord numerous times but since they pay their rent he doesn’t care. I can’t live comfortably in my own house and it’s so frustrating. I don’t know what else I can do or who else I can talk to, to do something about it. Any advice?

    • Kyle Jorgensen

      usually a noise ordinance is in affect from 7am to 10 or 11pm depending on your state laws! This means they can be loud but not insanely and is limited to what is considered complain-able if they are doing it during those hours there is not much that can happen or be done sorry people are allowed to live there lives

    • Deborah White

      My situation is so familiar. I am retired. When the eleven year old girl gets up for school, she stomps and runs all the time. Her bedroom is over my bedroom. I have lived here twenty-one years. This is the first time for me about the noise. December 2017, I submitted a letter to the manager of the rental property. I have called security many times and the city police. When they come out, the noise stops. So, they can’t do anything. I have so many documentations of the noise. The noise is affecting my health.

  • Sandra Wadsworth

    My neighbor has summoned police and landlord twice over excessive music noise between 10pm and 6am. I’m 78, live alone, go to sleep @9,:30 and arise at 7. I have no stereo, no radio, make no noise. Police have verified cold TV sets, no stereo. Neighbor says it stops when she calls PD. I’ve been given a 30 day notice to cease my behavior or get evicted. What should I do?

  • Patricia Butler

    I have a neighboor who has a very rambunctious child who constantly run ‘s jumps continously non stop and sounds like he comming thru the ceiling i’ve complained to mangment and they had the nerve to tell me oh he’s a boy that’s what they do i said no way it’ called being respectful of other tennants and at whivh point that a parent takes control of theur children i need advise

    • Shay

      Not only he’s a boy he is a kid and kids play and you don’t know the situation. he can have ADHD and if he is not playing 6 in the morning or past 9 pm you just going to have to deal with it or buy you a house. It’s only so much a parent can do especially if the kid is younger than 6 years old. you can say no no no no a thousand times. Don’t run. walk when you need to go to the potty. Can’t sit our kids in front of the TV all day to please people like you.

  • Tai

    Thank you Shay. I have a autistic son who makes noises and rocks back a forth. I wish that I could stop him because our downstairs neighbor keep complaining to our land lord. I am so sad always. Its hard enough to have a child like this. I tried to explain that he is Autistic but no one cares.

    • Becky

      why should they?!? He’s not their son!!

      • Tai

        You know what? I am glad you said this Becky. I hope that you and every other prick gets to know how it feels to watch someone you love be targeted for something they have no power over. Fuck you and everyone like you! I hope you watch your loved ones suffer with no one giving a fuck!

      • Bernadette Chavarin

        Becky, that comment was so rude. You didn’t have to even comment. You meant to be rude and hurtful.

  • Jen


    I moved into my apartment March 2019, and ever since I have been having the worst time ever. I have a crazy deranged upstairs neighbor that constantly stomps, jumps and walks heavily over me on a daily as well as nightly basis. I have reported this to the manager of the complex and he agreed to move me to another apartment, but he resigned! Then I have reported her again and the “acting” manager gave her a pat on the wrist. Then I reported this lunatic again and still to no avail she still does it. I am sick and tired of her tormenting me and ruining my right to peaceful enjoyment. I need help in trying to get out of this lease or be moved to where I don’t have to deal with a psycho like her! They pretend that it is minor, it is not

  • Bari DeFelice Bryant

    Moved in my new apt in April 2019. Day two of moving my thing in I got a knock at my door it was neighbor down below me stating I was too loud. It was 12 noon and I’d just got home from work so I apologize and let him know it’s only me up here . this has continued every two or three days but it’s now yelling and sarcastic questions like have you ever lived in an apartment before. I am so frustrated. But things are only getting worse since I stood up for myself. Now he’s complaining that my dog is shitting everywhere and that I leave it on patio not cleaning up . and if I get home from work and my dogs had to go potty before I get there I promptly clean it up. . now complaint is my tub overflowed and water instantly broke threw his ceiling.

  • Tai

    You know what? I am glad you said this Becky. I hope that you and every other prick gets to know how it feels to watch someone you love be targeted for something they have no power over. Fuck you and everyone like you! I hope you watch your loved ones suffer with no one giving a fuck!!

  • Sophie

    You people with rambunctious kids, stop your texting all day long and take your kids out so they can use their hyped up energy OUTSIDE where it belongs and not inside as to where it disrupts the downstairs neighbors!!!!

  • An W

    I’m a landlord’s dream. Quiet. Respectful. I take care of my property. I take my trash out on a very regular basis, I keep this cubby clean, I’m gone often during the day, I sleep at night. Unlike neighbor.I don’t have visitors, yk- hypersensitive ears downstairs. I don’t care problems. I don’t call police & cite tenants at 7am, claiming their shower disturbs me. My Neighbor does though! They stay up all night partyin,so they’re on shut down 7am.
    I’m pleasant, albeit timid. If any LLs west OKC want a quality tenant, let me know. You’d be glad you did. I don’t fit in a high crime poor area. Sore thumb. NO 1am rap in boom car. No porch furniture- mine ws stolen. I just need sm peace & safety. That’s all.TY fr considering. Sincerely.

  • Louis Meza

    I moved into an apt late august for college and this week my downstairs neighbors wrote me an essay on how loud I was being at night and she hadn’t gotten sleep. Also she said her dog would get scared and hide. She needs sleep from 11pm to 6 am and asked for me to be silent around those times. I wrote back appreciating her letter and apologizing by saying i wasn’t aware of how loud I was being because I wasn’t doing it on purpose. I am 19 and never have friends over or parties. I like to sit in the couch and watch tv (at normal volume) or lay in my bed. However, I do walk around whenever I need something. However, this weekend my family came to visit because I have not seen them since they live far from me.

  • Louis Meza

    Part 2.. Today at around 11 am she began hitting my ceiling. I have siblings aged 8,6 and 4. They weren’t even being loud, we were walking to the table to have breakfast. It was 11 am so it wasn’t extremely early. I spent the whole weekend getting mad at my family for WALKING! How ridiculous is that! They weren’t even jumping or playing. So what, they can’t even come visit!?? And hotels are expensive. I’m so sad because I think I might’ve pushed them away. We left the whole day so we wont bother the lady downstairs. I’m tired of having to walk on my tip toes and the constant fear of being too loud. I’m scared to even breathe. I think this is ridiculous now. At first I understood but now it’s just annoying…

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