Most of us live with neighbors a mere few feet above and below us and possibly even a few inches from side to side. It’s likely that at some point we’ve had noise issues, even though we tend to think of ourselves as the ‘disturbee’ rather than the ‘disturber.’ All multi-unit dwellings have established rules that boards and managers work hard to communicate to all residents, and enforce throughout the property.
“Our building requires that 80 percent of all apartment floors are covered with carpeting or area rugs,” says one East Side Board President. “If you choose to have exposed hardwood floors instead, owners can install foam or other sound insulating material between the underlayment and the flooring.”
Boards and managers need to be sure that all residents are aware of the house rules regarding noise. This includes sound abatement requirements as well as neighborly basics such as “quiet hours.” Many buildings request that noise levels from parties, music, television, etc. be kept to a minimum after 10 pm, for example.
Circulating a list of house rules periodically to all residents—including both unit owners and sublettors—is a wise idea. Informing residents of scheduled renovation work or other contracting jobs can also help minimize the impact of short-term noise from such projects. For example, if a building resident is planning to do redo their kitchen or install a new bathroom, let the neighbors know the expected dates of the work, so they will be aware that there will be some noise and inconvenience, but they’ll know that it won’t last too long. Or if the building or the City needs to do some sidewalk or street work out front, requiring jackhammers, let residents know what timeframe to expect. It’s easier to live with a noise problem if you know it’s temporary.
By ensuring policies are disseminated to building residents and addressing noise complaints via a clear and open line of communication, managers and boards can minimize the sort of disturbances that upset people living in our properties.