One of your tenant rights is the implied warranty of quiet enjoyment, which gives you the right to enjoy your rental property undisturbed and without interference. In apartment complexes or densely populated neighborhoods, your landlord may have established quiet hours written into your lease to ensure that everyone has the right to quiet enjoyment.
What are quiet hours?
Noise is subjective, so what you might consider normal might seem disruptive to your neighbors and vice versa. Most landlords don't have the time to constantly mediate noise complaints between tenants and neighbors, so establishing quiet hours sets expectations regarding noise and can help to mitigate disputes.
Quiet hours outline specific times of the day (typically night and morning) where excessive or unnecessary noise is not allowed. If your lease agreement covers quiet hours, be especially mindful of your neighbors and the noise you're creating during these hours — breaking quiet hour policies could mean you are in violation of your lease. Most municipal laws have their own “quiet hours" built-in, but your landlord has the ability to establish their own policy as long as it is reasonable and outlined in your lease agreement.
Activities like mowing the lawn, playing music or watching television at a volume heard outside of your unit, noise from parties or even children running around can all be violations if they disturb your neighbors during the set quiet hours. Consider any unnecessarily loud sounds that would interfere with your neighbor's daily lives or reasonably disturb sleep.
How strict can my landlord be when it comes to quiet hours?
Quiet hour policies must be reasonable and should be outlined in your lease agreement. Most landlords will follow pre-existing municipal parameters in order to eradicate concerns about timing. Your lease agreement should also outline the penalty for violations, typically for repeated disturbances. In most cases, the landlord will issue a formal warning for repeated complaints, followed by a fee or even an eviction notice in extreme scenarios.
Every landlord will have different parameters for reviewing noise complaints. They're more likely to understand if your small children are crying a few minutes before morning quiet hours officially end, but are likely to move forward with a penalty if you threw a party broken up by law enforcement at one in the morning. Realistically, the only way your landlord will know you've violated quiet hours is if your neighbors complain, so be respectful of your neighbors.
What if my neighbors are violating quiet hours?
If you feel you're regularly dealing with noise issues (especially from the same neighbors), ask yourself a few questions. How extreme is the violation? Is it happening close to the beginning or end of quiet hours? Try to understand, but don't sacrifice your right to peace and quiet. Keep track of the dates and times when you feel like your neighbors are out of line. That way, you have documented examples if you end up needing to involve your landlord.
Your best plan of action is to try discussing the issue with your neighbor first. A loud television or a barking dog may not even register to your neighbor that it's causing you a disturbance. Your landlord will likely to recommend resolving the issue on your own anyway, so start by approaching the problem directly. Go directly to your landlord if your neighbor has been uncooperative or hostile in the past.
If you've tried to work things out with a neighbor and noise is still an issue, it's time to ask your landlord for help. Your landlord may remind your neighbor of the terms of their lease agreement or formally address the issue in writing. If your landlord is unwilling or unable to help, look into the terms of your lease agreement to see if you might be able to break your lease and relocate.
What if your neighbors feel that you're violating quiet hours?
If you receive one complaint, try to mitigate the issue and respect your neighbors right to quiet enjoyment within reason. If you're dealing with multiple noise complaints or your landlord repeatedly contacts you, consider a new living arrangement that better suits your lifestyle. Close quarters like apartment complexes or highly populated neighborhoods aren't for everyone. You might think about looking for a rental opportunity that provides you with a little more space and privacy.
If you repeatedly violate quiet hours and don't fix the situation, you might face a fee or even an eviction.
Everyone has the right to quiet
Your rental is your home and you should certainly be able to enjoy your space as you please. However, certain types of accommodations require you to respect your neighbors, as you would expect them to do for you.