Naturally, most people would rather be on the accusing side of a noise complaint than on the receiving end. Still, even the quietest tenants are one raucous party away from being in the hot seat. Unfortunately, in this housing market, most of us can’t afford to look for a new dwelling. And so, you may find yourself wondering: how many noise complaints can you get before receiving an eviction notice?
Before we can get into whether landlords have the right to evict someone based on noise complaints, let’s establish the basics. What does the process of receiving a noise complaint even look like?
What Constitutes a Valid Noise Complaint?
When dealing with neighbors who are loud enough to receive a noise complaint, most people will make the effort to speak to the offending party before calling the landlord. So chances are, you’ll have plenty of time to adjust your behavior before receiving that final warning.
Still, if a neighborly conversation doesn’t cut it, getting the landlord is fair enough. But if you’re worried about receiving enough complaints to warrant an eviction, you’re either extraordinarily noisy or working against a conspiracy.
Simply put, your landlord may have overstated the number of noise complaints you have against you to turn you out. If that’s the case, you’ll benefit from knowing what constitutes a valid noise complaint.
When determining the validity of noise complaints made against you, you’ll have to cross-reference them against federal and local laws. Additionally, you’ll want to go through your lease to see if your building has a so-called “quiet enjoyment clause.” If it does, arguing that the volume of noise you were making isn’t technically illegal won’t do you much good. After all, property owners get to set the rules inside their buildings.
But remember, the law also recognizes the existence of unreasonable noise complaints. So if your landlord has given too much credence to people who are complaining about unavoidable noise, like loud toilet flushes, you could argue your way out of eviction.
How Many Noise Complaints Can You Get Before Your Landlord Starts the Eviction Process?
At this point, we have established that noise complaints exist in a framework of federal and local laws. On top of that, you may find more detailed specifications in your lease, as landlords can set their own rules.
Because of that, the number of noise complaints you can receive before being evicted changes depending on where you live. It can either be a relatively lenient number or a more strict three-strikes system.
If you’re unable to find the answer in your lease or the municipal noise laws, look into tenant and landlord rights. Landlords in your area may have more control over when they can evict tenants.
Still, tenants are protected against unlawful eviction under various Fair Housing laws. Moreover, if you suspect that your landlord is evicting you to retaliate for something you did, you could fight the eviction.
How to Fight an Eviction Notice Due to Noise Complaints
If you receive a written eviction notice, you’ll have about a month to sort out your things and move. However, you can also use the time to rally. So let’s talk about how to fight an eviction notice in this case.
Dispute the Noise Complaint — If Possible
If you’re certain that the amount of noise you’re making shouldn’t be so upsetting to your neighbors, investigate the noise complaints.
Try to find out if the complaints were put forth by your neighbors or if they were fabricated. Of course, some people might want to stay anonymous when filing a noise complaint. Still, you should be able to figure out if people are behind the complaints with the help of a legal representative.
After that, you should see if there’s any way to mediate the situation to everyone’s benefit. Try to be quieter and see if there’s anything else you can do to smooth things over with your neighbors. Your landlord might be open to striking previous complaints from the record. But what should you do if that doesn’t work out?
Sue Your Landlord
If your landlord goes so far as to give you an eviction notice over unsubstantiated incidents, you may be able to take them to court. Obviously, you’ll need to hire a lawyer to do that. But if you want to test how far they’re willing to go, there is an argument you can use even without a lawyer.
Namely, if you don’t think the amount of noise you’re making should be upsetting enough for your neighbors to file complaints, ask yourself — why are they still hearing you when you’re tiptoeing around your home? It could be that the property owner skimped on the mandated acoustic treatments.
In that case, you could refuse the call to eviction because the building itself is the problem — not you. Remember, your landlord is responsible for providing livable conditions in their building. That includes creating a sense of privacy within all units.
If they’re not doing that, you would be within your rights to contest the eviction notice. For more information about fighting eviction, check out this video.
How to Avoid Getting a Noise Complaint
So what can you do before any of this happens? Before you receive that awful eviction notice and spend money on a lawyer, here’s how you can avoid getting noise complaints:
- Develop a great relationship with your neighbors
- Get quiet home appliances and keep sound-producing devices on low volume
- Soundproof your home
Whatever you do, don’t give your landlord an excuse to send you packing! In fact, try to cut them out of your relationship with your neighbors. Rather than having your neighbors complain about you to the landlord — give them your number. That way, they’ll be able to tell you to pipe down directly.