Legal Recourse for Noisy Neighbors

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Legal Recourse for Noisy Neighbors

Staff Writer · Dec 16, 2010

For those who are dealing with excessively noisy neighbors, there are things that can be done to take action against residents who are keeping everybody else up at night. Even during the day, some legal remedies may apply to a noisy neighbor situation.

Renters and Noise

One thing that you can look into when encountering noisy neighbors is the policies of the housing community in which they live. Landlords routinely write noise clauses into a lease, giving them the legal power to evict if noise is bothering other residents. Even if the property is a single rental, many experts advocate contacting the landlord or property management company first. The party that administrates the property can tell you what their policy is and if they will be able to assist in a noise issue.

Calling the Police about Noise

Noise issues generally fall under “civil law” and can involve the police. In most communities, neighbors who are experiencing exceedingly loud music, revving or honking cars, or other loud noises can simply call the police and ask them to visit the household in order to warn them about the noise. If the noise does not abate, the police can be called back and will often cite the offenders. Over time, many noise issues will ultimately be resolved this way.

Local Government Noise Laws

The actual laws that govern the levels of noise allowed in a neighborhood are usually municipal laws. That means they are laws set by the town, city, county or township in which you live. These local laws are called ordinances.

If you have any questions about how noise laws are set up in your neighborhood, visit your local government building and ask to see the existing noise ordinance. If that ordinance does not exclude some of the activities that have become a problem, taking the issue to the governing municipal board may get you additional legal help in making neighbors turn the volume down.

Documenting Noise

Local governments will often respond to concerns with an “open query” where they want to know exactly what is going on. It’s not a bad idea to record noise to show police and local government board members. For example, a specific dog barking ordinance may include a time frame and frequency. If you can prove that the dog is barking consistently, it can help your noise case to get resolved.

All of the above are steps that neighbors can take to safeguard one of the biggest values of their home: their right to peace and quiet. Experts often recommend not to approach noisy neighbors, but to instead do any and all of the above to get the issue resolved. It also helps to get other neighbors involved who may also be irritated: a local petition often carries a lot of weight in persuading local governments to make a noise law or any other ordinance stricter.

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