Skip to main content

Loud neighbors in apartment building

Kirkland, WA |

I live in a three story apartment building on the second floor. The tenants above me have kids and are absurdly loud with constant running and thumping on the floor. Well, my ceiling must be made of cardboard because the noise is unbearable.

I figured it was a gamble since they have gravity on their side, but I started out by simply talking to them one day and asking that, later in the evening, they please stop the running and jumping above me. It stopped for maybe two days and, of course, resumed with a vengeance. I spoke with them more than once - essentially pleading for them to control their kids romping and stomping. Pretty soon they were clearly doing it on purpose.

I've talked to the office management repeatedly and they, assuming they are telling the truth, have sent more than one letter to them. Alas, the stomps persist and with each and every thud I become more and more daft. So I've started to call our apartment complex "courtesy patrol" (read: rent-a-cop) every time they go running amok. This curbed the clodhoppers for a short time, but again gravity was on their side.

Finally, in a fit of rage, I called the police to register a noise complaint. They asked what the noise was like and as soon as I described it as "running" and "jumping" they proclaimed there was nothing they could do; that they could not entertain a noise complaint on grounds that the building structure isn't well insulated for sound. This made me sad.

I looked over my lease to see if there was anything about noise, quiet hours etc etc. There are "quiet hours" after 10:00pm, but they simply do not adhere to them and, call me an old codger, but quite frankly 10:00pm is too late for my sanity.

My question is this:
I don't particularly want to, but I would be willing to move out just to get away from the ogres living above me. Do I have any recourse on getting out of my lease? Is there absolutely anything I can do to make this problem acquiesce?

Attorney Answers 2


This is one of the best written questions I have yet to encounter on Avvo. Are you sure you're not an English teacher?

Here's the short answer: most residential leases include a liquidated damages clause in which you can pay a pre-determined sum of money (usually a large percentage of one month's rent..) and vacate the apartment with the knowledge and approval of the landlord. You almost always lose your security deposit as well. And, if this isn't bad enough, you might just have a derogatory note placed on your landlord-tenant bureau record. As for getting the kids to stop making noise, well that's like trying to stop the moon from circling the earth - it just isn't going to happen as a practical matter.

In the end, the decision is really up to you - how badly do you want to have a peaceful night's rest?

I hope this helps!

Mark as helpful

7 found this helpful

1 lawyer agrees


Dear Reader: Is there anything less pleasant than being in one's own home and being subjected to noise not of one's own making? I think not. I recall being in a similar situation years ago. I lived in an apartment I adored, except that the apartment directly overhead had hardwood floors. The upstairs tenant had an active social life apparently entertaining tap-dancing elephants. Getting no helpful response from management, we moved.

I agree with Mr. Kennedy's answer. The only thing I would have recommended you handle differently would be to have documented every time you contacted the management about the noise. That would have allowed you to demonstrate (if necessary) to a court the efforts you went to to bring this issue to the attention of the management.

In WA landlord tenant law there is a formal reliance on written notice.

Also - be cautious when taking legal advice from a police officer. Kirkland likely does have noise ordinances that *could* be enforced. But is it worth it? Probably not.

Breaking a lease is not impossible, although depending on how your lease is worded will determine penalties to which you could be subjected, theoretically. In WA, the penalty that tends to be enforced is one month's rent. If your landlord submits your account to a collections agency, you will definitely want to talk to counsel at that point, as you may want to dispute the charges, especially if your landlord decides you owe the balance of the lease or some other preposterous amount.

This is another place where all that documentation regarding the basis for your move comes in handy. The alternatve is to write to your property manager, give a no fault 20 day notice that you are terminating the tenancy (on or before the 10th of the month to be effective the last day of the month) and write a separate letter explaining that you simply cannot tolerate the noise. See if you and your landlord can reach an agreement without involving the Courts. Especially for one as articulate as you are! Hope this helps. Elizabeth Powell

Mark as helpful

8 found this helpful

1 lawyer agrees

Real estate topics

Recommended articles about Real estate

What others are asking

Can't find what you're looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer

Browse all legal topics