Cited by the Board for Too Much Condo Noise

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T.M. from New Haven County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am being fined every week for noise violations of “running, dropping, dragging, banging, stomping, screaming” between the hours of 7:40 am – 8:30 pm. I have a two year-old son who does run, jump, and occasionally scream but this is just normal behavior for a child. Just to let you know the quality of the condo, a person walking in slippers above can be heard. I take my shoes off in the condo and provide a sponge play mat for my son but I can’t think of anything else to do. I think they should invest in a sound proof ceiling. Thanks for your help, I have a hearing shortly.

Mister Condo replies:

T.M., neighbor versus neighbor noise complaints can be particularly difficult for any Board to moderate. The nature of having upstairs, downstairs neighbors creates ample opportunity for each to claim too much noise from each other. The Board cannot fine you for simply “running, dropping, dragging, banging, stomping, screaming” but they can enforce any noise or peaceable enjoyment rules as defined in your condominium governing documents. By your own account, you are aware of the noise and are doing all that can be reasonably done to mitigate the noise. That may be all that is called for in your by-laws or they may state a specific decibel level that is acceptable. Since you mentioned specific hours, I have to assume your documents do speak to hours of required minimal noise although I am surprised that they are daytime hours. Most residents demand quiet in the evening and overnight hours so they can get some sleep. Regardless, once you have read and understand the rights of your neighbor and yourself, you are in a far better position to defend yourself against the noise violation.

It is entirely possible that additional sound deadening measures need to be taken and you could propose that the Board consider allowing you or your neighbor to install such noise insulation. However, the Board may require that you pay for the work, as it is an improvement to your unit – even though it is for your neighbor’s benefit. Of course, if the floors are already carpeted with heavy padding, there may be little else to do. Without knowing the specifics of your condo’s noise rules, there is really little else I can offer at this time. Keep in mind that your Board needs to be consistent in their approach to handling this problem. They cannot single you out for having a child or any other reason. If that happens, contact an attorney who will likely suggest suing them for discrimination. You may also wish to consult with an attorney to review your rights with regards to how much noise you are allowed to make and the hours where such noise is permissible. I wish you good luck at your hearing and resolving this issue.

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