Archives for posts with tag: noise complaints

Boston’s North End Has a Noise Problem

Even if you are landlord in the most responsible, timid, and low-key neighborhood in the country, chances are you’ve had to deal with at least one set of noisy tenants. Whether it’s parties, loud exercise equipment, or even particularly raucous, ahem, intimate relations, where there are a lot of people living in close proximity, someone is bound to get to loud.

In Boston, a city councilor has taken to legislation to try to curb the decibels in one of that city’s most densely populated areas, known as the North End. Councilmember Salvatore LaMattina has proposed a city ordinance that would make landlords responsible for the loud behavior of their tenants. It seems that recent years have brought an influx of young professionals and recent college graduates to the North End who decided to bring their frat house habits with them. This has caused much dismay in this historic neighborhood where people complain of frequently being woken up 2 or 3 times per week due to noise on the street and in neighboring buildings.

According to boston.com:

LaMattina’s nuisance control ordinance, filed in late July, would levy fines as follows: for the first offense, the resident, the organizer, and any attendees of a loud party responsible for creating a public nuisance would face a $100 fine. On a second or subsequent offense within one year of the first, a $300 fine would be levied against all the above, plus the owner of the property.

This means that landlords, no matter where they themselves live or who their tenants are, will be held financially responsible for noise complaints filed against their tenants, even if it is a party and the noise is being cause by non-tenants.

As a landlord, you may have had to deal with noise complaints before, between your own tenants. But an ordinance like this is rare. After all, most landlords and property owners who rent out apartments do not live on the premises with their tenants. This makes it impossible to really know about noise issues until they become a problem.

Of course, there are a few ways to address these issues before they explode into problems and you find yourself paying fines. First, it is important to screen tenants before they sign a lease. This means more than just a credit check. Talking to past landlords can be one of the best ways to find out if a tenant is destined to be noisy since most people don’t pick up partying habits overnight. Additionally, having a property manager on site at your building can nip noise issues in the bud before they become real problems. Yes, this may mean losing out on a bit of rental income but if it saves you and your property even one night of contact with the police, it may be well worth the expense.

In the end, it is unlikely that most municipalities will enact the same kind of ordinance that is being proposed in Boston, but taking preventative measures to avoid noisy and disrespectful tenants will never be a waste of time.

If you were to take all the different types of complaints that landlords and property managers have to deal with on a regular basis, there is no doubt that it would stretch on for miles. From noisy neighbors to weird smells to clogged pipes, there is simply a significant amount of upkeep required to, well, to keep up a rental property.

But whereas clogged pipes are problem easily solved, there are some issues that may be cause for complaint but difficult for you as a property owner (or manager) to resolve for yourself. Like noise from the outside. When you have one tenant complaining about another, it’s easy enough to review leases and have conversations to solve the problem. But when you have a nearby building install a helicopter pad, an airport reroute flight paths, or an inexplicable uptick in local sirens, it can be much more difficult to handle complaints. That’s why we’ve compiled a few tips to help you deal with those noise complaints that don’t have a simple fix.

Soundproof Fencing

One of the more recent technological developments that can help with a noisy building is a soundproof fence. These fences, while not necessarily the most aesthetically pleasing with their solid, usually black, construction, can keep out (or in!) a large percentage of noise. They are even used on construction projects, to block the sound from railways, or even for dog kennels. If your building and noise source are situated in such a way that a fence may be able to help, it is certainly worth considering.

Soundproof Windows

Having good windows with strong seals is a good idea anyway, since it can save you a lot of money on energy. An added bonus is that double paned windows that keep heat and air conditioning inside can also help to keep noise on the outside.

Go to the Source

Depending on what the source of the noise is, you may be able to talk to another property owner and see if they can’t help you to sort out the issue. Whether it is a nearby homeowner with barking dogs or a renter who tends to have parties late into the night, a conversation may be all it takes. Of course, if that doesn’t do the trick, you may have to get the police involved.

Lower the Rent

If the noise is something completely out of your control, there may be nothing you can do at all to fix it. If this is the case, you may consider lowering the rent on your vacant units and even offering a discount to existing tenants so that they don’t bolt as soon as their lease is up.

Don’t Try to Trick New Tenants

Finally, no matter what steps you end up taking in order to correct your noise situation, you shouldn’t not try to trick potential tenants by not notifying them about the problem before they sign a lease. This can lead to all sorts of much worse problems and you’ll be much better off finding a tenant that can handle the noise.

Have you ever had a problem like this at one of your rental properties?  How did you handle it?  Let us know in the comments!