Tag Archives: Noise

Noisy Condo Neighbor Ruining Renter’s Peace and Quiet

P.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I am dealing with a neighbor at condo. I am a renter; she is not. She is loud and noise every night until at least 1:00 a.m. The owner I’m renting from is lazy. I can’t wait until May to leave next year. I tried talking to this neighbor and had to call police twice. The manager of the association says they will send a letter but the problem still persists. Recently, a picture fell of my wall and broke. She stomps on her floor on purpose and intentionally drop loud objects. I am so angry I can’t sleep. What can I do?

Mister Condo replies:

C.J., lazy or not, your landlord has a responsibility to provide you with a rental unit as outlined in your rental agreement. Most likely, that agreement included a copy of the rules and regulation for the condo association where you reside. Inside those rules, there are the steps for complaining about another unit owner or resident that isn’t following the rules. Typically, a report is made to either a Property Manager or directly to the Board. There are usually rules about acceptable noise levels, quiet hours, and peaceable enjoyment for unit owners. As a renter, you may or may not have the ability to directly lodge such a complaint, meaning it may need to come through your landlord. If your landlord refuses to support you in this effort, he may be breaking terms of your lease which may leave you the opportunity to end the lease early. However, if you decide to break your lease early you may be out of your deposit or create a legal battle between you and your landlord. My practical advice is for you to motivate your landlord or have him give you the power to work directly with the Property Manager or Board to bring about a resolution. Understand that it may take time and as the months go by towards the end of your lease, the simplest solution may be to not renew your lease. If you decide to break your lease, speak with an attorney to see what legal and financial consequences you may be incurring. It is an unfortunate circumstance to say the least. However, in tight living spaces as many condos offer, an unruly neighbor can make living there unpleasant. Good luck!

Mentally Ill Child of Condo Neighbor Creating Noise Nuisance

D.E. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have been living in our condo for three years and love it. Recently new owners moved in next door with their 9-year-old child. Come to find out she bangs her head against the wall and screams bloody murder at all times of the day. Unfortunately, she has mental illness – bipolar, OCD, etc. I have spoken with them nicely 3 times and when we have asked it does stop so it seems like it is in control and they are just lazy. They came from a 3800-square foot home to a 1450-square foot condo. Knowing there are issues like this I would think you would investigate your surroundings first before buying this type of place. My brother was mentally challenged so I certainly have compassion but this really has to stop – I am on the verge of calling 911 every time this happens. What is my recourse?

Mister Condo replies:

D.E., you are kind to be considerate and compassionate to understand the challenges your neighbors are facing. However, all unit owners, including you, have a right to peaceable enjoyment of their units. Clearly, this noise, regardless of the source, is violating your right to peace and quiet. Your recourse is to file an official complaint against your neighbor with the Board who will then take appropriate action. Typically, that involves summoning your neighbor to appear before the Board to address the rule violation. The Board then can take further action which is typically a fine or whatever else is outlined in your governing documents. If the noise continues, you continue to report it to the Board in writing (usually via the Property Manager). Your complaints are records of the association and, as such, are subject to review by any association members, including your neighbor. For this reason, some unit owners are reluctant to file a formal complaint. However, you have already tried the nice route and only received temporary reprieve. It is up to you to take the next step to restore the peace and quiet you are entitled to. Perhaps your neighbor will do a better job of restoring the calmness or perhaps they will realize that this close living quarters just isn’t the proper environment to raise a child with these types of special needs. Either way, I hope you get your peace and quiet back. All the best!

Quiet Condo May Not Be the Ideal Home for a Musician

A.M. from British Columbia, Canada writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We have been renting condos for five years and just moved into a new one about two months ago. We have suddenly received two notes on our door as well as a formal complaint regarding “bass-heavy music” within the last two weeks. The neighbour complaining lives below our unit. My partner makes music for a living, so his job involves playing projects out loud on studio monitors (which are designed to play music accurately) in order to mix and master. One day we played music for only 5 minutes and the next morning, I found a note on the door. He already limits when he plays music to typical working hours so as not to disturb neighbours. The volume is set to an ordinary listening level, we do not own a subwoofer (although the neighbour below thinks we do), and my partner makes an effort to complete as much work as he can on headphones. They have also complained about our footsteps, but our building has laminate wood floors and we can hear creaking from footsteps and other noises from the unit above us all the time. Is the noise we make considered “reasonable?” If so, how can we get the neighbour to stop standing outside our door listening, leaving notes, and complaining to Strata? Since we are renting, I would really like to avoid being fined and having our landlord think we are bad tenants! Thanks in advance.

Mister Condo replies:

A.M., loud noises and condos (strata for my Canadian readers) don’t mix. I assume your landlord gave you a copy of the rules and regulations for your new rental. While I doubt there is a specific provision about “bass-heavy music”, there are very likely rules about noise levels and time of days specifically set aside as quiet hours. The issue is that you and your neighbor have different ideas about what noises are and aren’t acceptable. You both have the right to peaceable enjoyment of your unit so the real question is where do your rights end and theirs begin? Regardless of what type of music monitoring system your partner is using it is quite possible that the decibel level is simply too high for doing that type of work in the condo. You mentioned headphones and that is a perfect solution, in my opinion, because there is no possibility of the sound disturbing anyone. The noise from walking across floors is another story and I can’t imagine any Board issuing a fine for that type of noise violation unless the condo rules state that hardwood or laminate floors must be covered by carpets to avoid excess noise from neighbors walking around their units. My advice is to use the headphones exclusively when performing the music work. Considerate neighbors are priceless in such tight living quarters. Thank you for your letter.

Condo Noise is Unbearable!

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B.J. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have been living in hell for the past 6 years now. I live in a quadraplex style condo, that is the style for the over 200 plus units here. You share a common wall with virtually all of your neighbors and the quadraplexes are stacked side by side so if you are not hearing the 10 plus people slamming doors and everything else under your roof, you can hear the neighboring quadraplexes neighbors going in and out all day to slamming their front door, you hear car doors slam every 2 seconds as the garages and driveways are right by your front door and you share garages with a common wall so you hear banging around in there as well. How can I get some peace and quiet around here?

Mister Condo replies:

B.J., I am very sorry for your living conditions. I also apologize for editing your original question as I feel your point was made early on. The single most important question I have for you is whether or not you noticed this noise when you made the decision to purchase? It would seem to me that almost all of the conditions you describe were pre-existing, meaning there was really no reason for you to purchase this unit with the expectations that things would be different once you moved in. From what you have told me, you have done all you can do to help yourself and there is still no relief from noise that you consider unacceptable. Have you reviewed the condo’s governance document? In particular, have you read what they say about noise. Excessive noise and noise at off hours (later than 10:00 p.m. or before 7:00 a.m., for instance) are usually prohibited. You can complain to the association about the noise and they can either investigate and take action or they can decide to do nothing if they don’t feel any by-laws have been violated. Unless you think you have legal recourse, there is little else you can do, B.J.. You mentioned that selling your unit really isn’t an option for you but if your building can’t provide you with the level of quietness you need to be content, my advice is to look elsewhere. Again, I am sorry for your situation and if you do decide to live elsewhere, be sure you thoroughly investigate the noise level BEFORE you move in. The quadraplex style unit you have described here sounds like a noise nightmare for someone as sensitive to sound as you. I wish you a peaceful and quiet abode. Good luck!

Banging Radiator Sounds Has Condo Owner Banging Head Against Wall!

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S.F. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

The steam heating system has pipes that run through our unit into the units above. These pipes bang like crazy every time the heat comes on and the experts tell us this is probably due to a problem in a radiator in the unit above us. We have tried to make contact with the owner above us, explain the situation, and offer to pay for any fixes that might stop the banging. Despite emails, phone calls, and knocking on the door, we’ve never gotten any answer at all. This has apparently been a problem in the past (before we moved in), as the owner has neglected paying assessments until late payment fines were imposed on her. And it was the same thing–no response over and over. We are a small, self-managed condo association. What should I do?

Mister Condo replies:

S.F., I am sorry you are having to live with so much noise. You’ve tried the direct approach with your neighbor and that has not yielded any results. It is time to take a good look at your condo docs, complain about the problem to the Board, and, perhaps, hire an attorney if the Board cannot correct the problem. You governance documents likely contain a clause ensuring your peaceable enjoyment of your unit. You need to complain, in writing, to the Board of your neighbor’s loud noise and cite as a violation of the by-laws noise restrictions. Then it is up to the Board to enforce the regulation. Which includes asking the unit owner to appear before the Board to defend against the claim. Unless the Board is satisfied with the explanation, they may then issue a fine and/or take further action for repeated offenses, which you will need to report each time they occur. With cooler weather upon us, that could very well be every day. This documentation may be needed if the case ends up in court, which is quite possible. If the Board cannot correct the unit owner’s behavior, you may need to sue the association for failing to protect your right to peaceable enjoyment of your unit. In a small association like yours, this is quite expensive for the association but it is also the last resort to restore the peace. I hope it doesn’t come to that for you but it may be necessary if this unit owner refuses to play nice. Good luck!

Noisy Condo Tenant Disturbing Unit Owner’s Peaceable Enjoyment

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R.B. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a poorly-insulated condo complex. There are three floors and six units per building (4 buildings total). The couple that lived above me recently moved out, but I experienced almost year of life disruption because of their noise. They had two small children that ran about and jumped all over the place like wild animals and the adults were constantly dropping heavy objects all day long. The husband seemed receptive when I complained, but they did not change their habits and the noise continued. They were renters and I did speak to the unit owner/landlord who barely did much to help the situation (he is a board member). The renters moved out in late June and the owner is renovating now because he plans to sell. I had hoped that when the couple moved out, I’d finally have some peace and quiet.

No such luck. The owner on the third floor is an elderly woman who keeps the volume on the television blasting ALL NIGHT LONG INTO THE MORNING. I tried approaching her, but she wouldn’t answer her door. I left her letters taped to her door that she apparently disregarded. I complained to the board and the property manager said he spoke to her. This woman’s behavior continues. I complained again to the board/property manager; two weeks have passed since I last said something and have not received any response. I can’t afford to insulate and at the moment I can’t afford to sell or move out either. There IS a rule in the condo’s regulations about noise, and they don’t seem to be enforcing it. I don’t want to have to be a pest or chronic complainer, and can’t afford an attorney.

What else can I do? Should I keep complaining until something gets done?

Mister Condo replies:

R.B., I am sorry that you are living with this unbearable noise. High density housing with upstairs and downstairs neighbors often comes with thin walls, floors, and ceilings that may require a tolerance for hearing your neighbor’s sounds at times when you desire quiet. Most associations have rules about acceptable noise limits and the hours when noise should be kept to a minimum. Have you reviewed your condo’s rules and regulations to see what the acceptable noise rules are? Are they strict enough that you would have a case if you seek legal help? My advice is that you review your association’s documents and see what your rights are with regards to peaceable enjoyment and what rules are in place to empower the Board to take action against noise offenders. Next, speak with an attorney to see if a lawsuit against the association is in order. I realize that there is an expense here but it is necessary if you are going to solve your problem. If the Board is unwilling to enforce the association’s rules about noise, you may need to force them to do so by taking them to court. Typically, this will motivate the Board to do the right thing, which may involve them issuing a warning and fines to the offending unit owner, who in turn should take action against the tenant. If an attorney advises you against a lawsuit because your case is weak, I am afraid the noise will likely continue. You might look at sound insulation or other possible solutions but from what you have told me, there is going to be sounds coming from above just because the building wasn’t designed to deaden sound between floors. It is an unfortunate situation to say the least. Good luck getting back your peace and quiet!

Static Noise in Condo Caused by Unknown Source

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T.L. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I have a static noise coming from one interior wall in my condo living room. When I apply pressure to the wall the noise stops. It is only happening on the last 4 weekends. Any ideas what it could be or how I can get it to stop?

Mister Condo replies:

T.L., I am sorry for your discomfort. I am not a building engineer or electrician but if what you are describing is a static noise, I would think it is in your best interest to have a building expert take a look, listen, and even a measurement to make sure you aren’t experiencing some type of electrical short circuit that could cause a shock or fire hazard. If the source of the noise or static seems to be from within your unit, it may be on you to bring in a building inspector or electrician to give a listen and pinpoint the source. If the source is an association-caused issue (a faulty sump pump, an overloaded electrical line, etc.) then report the problem to the association for remedy. If it is something else (a refrigerator, a treadmill, other appliance that you own) you should take measures to remove the problem. If the static noise is caused by a neighbor’s electronics, report it to the Board and they should see what can be done to remedy the situation. Be careful, don’t get hurt, and seek professional help to solve this mystery. Good luck!

Condo Unit Owner Turns Common Area Into Work Area!

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D.T. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a Condo complex, is my neighbor allowed to use power tools outside in the courtyard? I am assuming this is a common area and it is very noisy and shrill. Our association rules state that “No occupant shall make or permit any noises that will disturb or annoy the residents of any of the condominium units or permit anything to be done which will interfere with the rights, comfort or convenience of other owners or residents.”

Mister Condo replies:

D.T., I am sorry that you are having to deal with this annoyance. It would appear that the rules and regulations of your association would prohibit the use of noisy power tools. The question now is who will enforce the rules? If you have made a complaint to the Board or Property Manager, that is all you can do. It is up to the Board to take action, usually in the form of a citation to the unit owner. The owner would be asked to appear before the Board and defend against the charge that they violated the rule. The Board is then free to assign a fine as outlined in the governance documents. As you can imagine, summoning unit owners to appear before the Board and fining them for improper behavior is not the best way to build community and some Boards are reluctant to do so. If this was a one-time occurrence, a warning may be all that is needed. However, it this is an ongoing or repeated offense, the Board may have to take action. Either way, I am hopeful that the peace will be restored in your community. Good luck!

30-Year Condo Unit Owner Not Feeling Good Vibrations!

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B.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in and own my condo. I have been here 30 years. The condo is 40 years old. I live on the top floor, 3rd floor. I have vibration coming from the unit on my bedroom side, and I am aware of what it is. But my association won’t do anything because he denied what was going on. There is no noise. I just feel my mattress move enough to keep me awake. The lack of sleep is causing health issues. I now have vibration coming from the living room side when the owner decided to move back in. I did not have it when she had a tenant living there. I think the floors have some serious issues, but I can’t get the Board or the Management company to do anything. The building is old, we had termites years ago, and there have been a few small earthquakes. I believe a Dyson fan is causing the living room vibration, but cooperation is difficult. I want to get a vibration test done reflecting the problem I feel, but all the big companies don’t help. I am so frustrated. How can I get anyone to do anything? Can an attorney do something? Before I spend money for one, what kind of attorney helps in this kind of situation? Thanks.

Mister Condo replies:

B.B., I am so sorry for your problems. After 30 years in the condo, I am sure you are quite upset that your peaceable enjoyment is now being upset by tremors and vibrations. I am not certain what, if anything, can be done although I certainly think you should have a discussion with an attorney about what your rights are as outlined in your condo documents. Most documents address nuisance such as you are describing and you may be able to have the Dyson product banned from use if it can be demonstrated to violate your association’s nuisance rules. However, it won’t be easy as the most common nuisance items are noise and odor. Vibrations aren’t likely to trip the noise violation and the blowing of air isn’t causing an odor violation from what you have told me. Older building do come with their own challenges and earthquakes and general settling that have occurred over the past 40 years will most certainly have taken their toll on the building. If the building no longer meets your living requirements, you might consider selling and moving to a new home where the age of the building may not be as much a factor as your current home. That may not solve the current problem but it would no longer be your problem. If you speak with a local attorney knowledgeable in real estate law and you cannot find a legal remedy to your situation I think you will have to have a good long talk with yourself about how much you can tolerate and still be content. If this condo isn’t going to do it for you, I am certain there are many others that would. Good luck!

Fellow Unit Owners Creating Unbearable Condo Rooftop Noise!

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M.M. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live on the top floor of a 60-unit condo building. The noise from the roof deck is unbearable. I have lived in the city for several years and have a reasonable expectation of noise levels. The noise was not disclosed in the purchase and apparently nobody was on the roof when I initially saw the unit. Is the HOA responsible for helping to control this noise issue, since the nuisance is originating from a common area?

Mister Condo replies:

M.M., I am sorry that the roof deck noise is unbearable. Your association’s governance documents likely spell out what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to noise. If you have registered your complaint with the Board, it is up to the Board to determine if your complaint carries enough merit for the Board to take action against the unit owners who are responsible for the noises. However, if your condo documents are silent about noise regulation and instead use the term “nuisance”, the Board may not have enough definition of nuisance on which to act against the noisemakers. I would encourage you to work with your Board on determining which, if any, rules are being broken and then ask the Board to take action to enforce the rules. These action may include fining the rules breakers or restricting their use of the common area for repeated offenses. Then again, the Board may not have any action to take if no rules are being broken. It is unfortunate you were not made aware of the noise issue before making your purchase but this sounds like a case of “buyer beware”. If so, and the noise cannot be controlled, I might suggest you also sell to an unsuspecting buyer during a time of year when the noise doesn’t exist. Good luck!