Obligations of Landlord when tenants cause excessive noise in multiunit apartment.
In a multiunit apartment building where separate tenants share common areas and common walls, landlords have obligations regarding repairs, but limited obligations regarding noise from your neighbors. The keys are your written lease and what is considered reasonable under the circumstances.
1. Multiunit Apartment Building.Landlords have no responsibilities beyond the rented premises. They do not police the neighborhood. Landlords do have an obligation to provide the tenants with the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of the rented property. Usually this means no interference from the landlord. However, this can include taking actions against another tenant for causing excessive noise. This guide addresses the issue of when your neighbors are causing noise that disturbs your quiet enjoyment of your rental unit.
2. What constitutes excessive noise.Usually, the measure of excessive noise is the legal measurement as enforced by the police. Local ordinances sometimes speak in terms of measurable sound levels called, "decibels." Such measurements are applied around airports and concert venues. Only so many decibels of noise are allowed to exist during certain times of the day. Usually the test is if a police officer can actually hear anything from so many feet away from the unit, perhaps from the street. Circumstances will vary based on the location of the apartment building and the surrounding neighborhood.
3. Public vs Private DistrubanceIf the police find the noise excessive, allow the police to do their job in dealing with the offenders. If the noise is determined to not be a "public" disturbance, it may still be a private disturbance. Your first step is review your written lease. The landlord has an obligation to enforce the written lease the same against all the tenants. Failure of a landlord to press a lease violation against your neighbor may be violation of your lease with the landlord. This may give you grounds to prematurely terminate your lease or sue for a reduction of your rental obligation.
4. Build your case.The landlord needs actual notice of the noise problem and must catch your neighbors red handed. Recorded examples of the noise are not as good. A police officer as a witness is the next best thing to the landlord being there in person. If the landlord agrees the noise is excessive and warnings to the tenant are being ignored, then the landlord should seek termination against the noisy tenant for violation of the written lease. If the noise is not deemed to be criminal activity by the police nor a private disturbance by the landlord, you still have the right to sue the other tenant in civil court, seek a restraining order, or to prematurely terminate your lease. In all these cases, you will have the burden of proof to persuade a judge or jury to stand in your shoes, hear what you hear, and also agree that the noise has disrupted your ability to REASONABLY enjoy the premises you have rented.