Noise complaints can be a nag for all parties involved, especially if you’re the one supposedly causing the ruckus. Whether it’s tired neighbors or your landlord filing the complaint, don’t worry; there are ways on how you can defend yourself.
Here are a few ways to defend yourself against noise complaints:
- Warn your neighbors ahead of time
- Check for quiet hours
- Ask your landlord or the police for a warning
- Determine the validity of the complaint
- Apologize if you are in the wrong
- Know your rights
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about dealing with noise complaints, including how to speak with your neighbor and what to do if the police are called.
A noise complaint is a complaint formerly made from an outside source referring to excessive or distributive noise. The complaint could be made to the police, or if renting property, to a landlord.
Excessive noise repercussions may be written into state or local law or a lease, depending on where you live. Some noise complaints result in verbal warnings, while others may result in a fine or further consequence, depending on the severity and the frequency of the complaint.
Noise complaints are usually made at night, often against parties or playing loud music. A complaint can be made if noise is considered distributive to others and avoidable, such as music or screaming.
If the complaint refers to something like loud footsteps or normal activities such as in an apartment building, a complaint may not be valid. There are multiple guidelines to be followed regarding making noise and filing noise complaints depending on where you live.
Prevention and responsibility are the best ways to defend yourself against noise complaints.
Here are a few ways you can prevent complaints in the first place and what you can do after getting the complaints.
If you have a party or a get-together planned and you know it may get out of hand, warn your neighbors ahead of time! Not only is this the polite thing to do, but it can also prevent an initial complaint in the first place.
If your neighbors know you are taking the initiative to warn them of possible noise, they will form a stronger connection with you and be less likely to file a formal complaint.
Forming relationships with those around you can ensure more likeability and mutual respect, making neighbors reconsider their choice before picking up the phone.
You should also give your neighbor your phone number or a way to contact you so they can warn you ahead of time if the noise is getting too loud. Keeping communication about excessive noise between one another can eliminate the possibility of legal repercussions if the complaint is taken to a landlord or law enforcement.
A lot of towns or private living complexes enforce quiet hours. Quiet hours are rules determining when you cannot make excessive noise and should make an effort to be quiet out of respect to neighbors and those who live close by.
Quiet hours usually take place between late night and early morning, when most people are trying to sleep. If the noise is above a certain decibel level during this time, it may be considered in violation of quiet hours.
Violating quiet hours may result in legal or landlord-enforced repercussions such as fines or eviction.
If you are planning something that may cause louder noise than usual, check for your local town or building quiet hours. Many towns may include this information under a Nuisance Order.
If you live in a rented or leased building, the information should be in your lease.
Try to plan your event around these hours or make an effort to lower the volume of your event once quiet hours begin.
If you have already received the noise complaint, check if quiet hours were violated. If you violated the rules, you might have to suffer the consequences.
However, if no quiet hours were enforced, you have a bit of defense for your case.
If this is your first noise violation, you will often be let off with a warning. If it is not given to you directly by your landlord or a police officer, you can politely ask for a warning for your first violation before receiving consequences.
Allowing a warning is not mandatory, so you should not keep fighting for one if you are not given one.
In line with asking for a formal warning, you can ask your neighbors for a warning as well. If you communicate with them, as stated above, you can ask if they warn you of excessive noise before they file a formal complaint.
This again comes down to common courtesy and respect between you and those who live near you.
Sometimes, a noise complaint is made over something that is invalid or cannot be controlled.
Below are some examples of valid vs. invalid noise complaints:
- Loud music
- Barking dogs
- Screaming or excessively loud talking
- Running water
- Get-together that is over by predetermined quiet hours
If a complaint is made against you that is not valid, you can try to appeal to your landlord or police officer by providing details about the noise complaint and letting them determine if it is against the rules or not.
Often, neighbors can just be grumpy or tired when they file a complaint, and often police officers and landlords have more important things to attend to besides irrelevant noise complaints.
If the deed was done and you are in the wrong, the only thing you can do to defend yourself is apologize and take whatever consequences are given to you. In the grand scheme of things, noise complaints are annoying, but they are not too severe and usually do not affect your personal record.
Apologize to your neighbors, the landlord, or the police officers and promise to be more respectful of other people’s spaces and personal lives. Sometimes if you’re very lucky, a sincere apology may even earn your way out of any consequences.
If the police or the landlord of your building come to your door for a filed noise complaint, it is important to know your rights regarding yourself and your property. I’ll share what you should do if the police, your landlord, or neighbor, show up below.
If the police show up at your door for a noise complaint, they are not allowed to enter your house uninvited without a search warrant.
Police are only allowed to stand at your door unless you give permission otherwise.
If they show up with a search warrant, you must let them in the house. If the police try to enter your home without a warrant or permission from you, they are breaking the law.
Since you are technically renting from the landlord, they may be able to enter your home from a noise complaint in many places.
Your landlord is obligated to investigate any noise complaints and gain details of the occurrence. The landlord’s and tenant’s rights in this situation may differ based on location and lease details.
If your neighbor shows up at your door complaining about noise, you do not have to let them in, nor are you obligated to answer the door.
Your neighbor only has free access to their own rented unit.
However, if you do not answer the door, you may face repercussions of hostility and disrespect from neighbors in the future.
If you have already received a noise complaint or are nervous about creating excessive noise, there are many ways you can take precautions to ensure you’re a respectful tenant or neighbor.
- Keep the volume of your TV or music low. If you can hear it clearly from another room of your house, chances are your neighbors can hear it through the wall. You can also opt for headphones at night to reduce noise.
- Warn guests of quiet hours ahead of time. Letting your guests know when it is time to quiet down can help reduce noise and avoid complaints. It is sometimes hard to get people to quiet down at the moment, especially while intoxicated or under the influence of something, but letting them know in advance could help them register its importance.
- Have large gatherings earlier in the day. Try to plan to have your get-together end by the time quiet hours begin. People will be less likely to file noise complaints if their peace and quiet are not being disturbed.
- Have the party somewhere else. Sometimes our walls are just too thin or our floorboards too squeaky. If this is the case, see if a friend or family member can co-host an event or let you hold it at their house instead, where there are fewer neighbors nearby.
In this article, I discussed the many ways to defend yourself against noise complaints and how to take precautions against them in the first place.
I also discussed your rights as an individual regarding noise complaints and the proper way to handle them. Hopefully, you can now reduce the number of noise complaints made against you or eliminate them in the future.