Can A Tenant Stop Paying Rent Due To A Noisy Neighbor?

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A common issue that arises from owning and renting out a multi-unit are noise complaints.
Our friends over at Avvo recently did a webinar with Zillow addressing common issues between landlords and tenants.
The audio file above addresses this question as Avvo’s chief legal officer, Josh King, weighs in with his thoughts.
Below you can read the transcript of the conversation:
Legal Disclaimer: The materials and information presented here were provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Zillow Group does not make any guarantees as to the sufficiency of the information included or its compliance with applicable laws. You should contact your attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. The opinions expressed in the audio and from the webinar are the opinions of Avvo and may not reflect the opinions of Zillow Group.
green-lime

Transcription of the audio file above

Question: My tenant stops paying rent due to the upstairs tenants making noise. Do they have a right to do that?
Josh: Well, tenants have the right to engage in all forms of self-help if there are problems that are effecting health and safety. If there is no running water or the lights don’t work ect.
Noise from upstairs tenants is a lot less likely because a noise is annoying but it has to be really loud and consistent before it crosses the line of health and safety.
I think this is one where you’d want to have some very direct communications with your tenant. I think this is one where you’d want to have some direct communications with your tenants.
It’s one that you would be best to talk directly with your tenants to see what the problem is and see if it can be solved. Certainly if the people upstairs walk around a little bit, these are all things we deal with if we live in apartments or condos and certainly within an acceptable range.
It would have to be very very extreme before they could withhold the rent.

green-lime

Can I withhold rent for noisy neighbors?

Noise complaints can be tricky. I agree with Josh that getting in direct communication with your tenants is your first step to resolution.
Find out what the source of the noise complaint is and communicate with both parties involved.
You may find that they’re “slamming” doors upstairs and there might be a simple fix below are a couple videos I recorded a few years back before joining RentPrep.
At the time I was on the lower floor of a double home I owned and there were some easy fixes to limit noise in the apartment.
The following playlists covers some simple tricks to help limit noise in an older rental unit.

  • Fix noisy wooden floors
  • Quiet loud cabinet doors
  • Soundproofing loud noisy doors
  • Fix for loud noisy garage door


If the noise complaints are legitimate you will want to document the noise complaint with the accused tenant.
You may want to lookup your town’s noise ordinance via a Google search.
If the noise complaints are occurring after hours you can let the tenant know they are in violation of the town ordinances as well.