Noise Rules Keep it Down – But Keep It Fair

When you live in a multifamily building, however, peace and quiet can be hard to come by. From the guy upstairs who gargles loudly at precisely 6:47 a.m. every morning to the neighbor with the yapping Chihuahua—at some point the soundtrack of your neighbors’ lives will inevitably intrude upon your own. 

So what’s to be done about noise when your walls are paper thin and dozens of people may call a single building a home? Tackling noise concerns and complaints can be less intimidating if you hit it from both sides: preventing potential problems through construction and soundproofing techniques and implementing policies and community rules to control noise and encourage courteous behavior among residents. 

Quantifying Quiet

According to Orlando E. Ballate, executive vice president of The Falcon Group’s Claims/Forensics Division in Bridgewater, New Jersey, “Noise complaints in multifamily buildings are one of the leading types of complaints to managers.  The amount of complaints depends on a number of factors, such as type and quality of construction, location of the building and how considerate your neighbors are.” In problematic buildings, noise complaints can make up 30 to 40 percent of complaints to management, Ballate says. 

Robert N. Andres, a technical advisor for the nonprofit group Noise Free America agrees, citing that from his experience that, “about 20 to 30 percent of complaints in close communities would be noise or vibration-related.” Combine poorly constructed walls between apartments and your neighbor dancing to Beyonce while wearing heels, and you’ve got yourself a chronic noise complaint. 

How someone defines “noise” can be pretty subjective. One person's maddening racket is another's pleasant dinner soundtrack. In terms of complaints in residential spaces, noise is typically related either to individual actions like loud televisions, voices, music, heavy footfalls, barking dogs and raucous parties, or to related to equipment—things like air conditioners, lawn mowers, flushing toilets and running water.  


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  • I live on the top floor of a 4-story condominium for the past 10 years. In the past 2 years, I have complained to the board of directors about noise and vibrations from air conditioners on the roof making my life a living hell. Their answer to me is that they are not allowed to order someone to purchase a new air conditioner, therefore I just have to live with the noise. I am losing sleep and becoming a nervous wreck. I am 81 years of age and do not want to consider moving . I just want to enjoy my home in peace and quiet . Can you suggest anything that I might be able to do to correct the situation?