Most municipal jurisdictions have noise ordinances, as do some counties with unincorporated but high-density population areas.
If you have neighbors who are continuously playing loud music or have annoying barking dogs, you will need to do some research on how to file a noise complaint. You may even be able to file a noise complaint online, but it is quicker and more efficient to just call it in.
Most states delegate noise control and ordinances to their local municipalities. Those municipalities, in turn, have noise ordinances and procedures for reporting noise complaints.
Some Examples under Texas Law:
Austin: The Austin Noise Ordinance states that no one can make an unreasonable noise between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. or create a sound or vibration more than 30 feet from a vehicle. Austin residents can call 311 to place a noise complaint.
Dallas: The City of Dallas noise ordinance has a straightforward preamble: “No person shall make or cause to be made any loud and raucous noise in the city which is offensive to the ordinary sensibilities of inhabitants…(or makes) enjoyment of life or property uncomfortable…” To report noise complaints in Dallas, citizens should call 311.
Houston: The Houston Sound Ordinance states that sound cannot exceed 65 decibels during the day and 58 decibels at night in residential areas. Any sound levels over those limits require a permit. Don’t call 911 for non-emergency situations.
San Antonio: The San Antonio noise ordinance has a 116-word complex definition and an extensive listing of examples of noise nuisances. Basically, a noise nuisance is an unlawful disturbance of peace and quiet. The top of the list includes the “playing or permitting or causing the playing of any radio, television, phonograph, drum, juke box … sound amplifier … which produces, reproduces or amplifies sound.”
To file a noise complaint between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. in San Antonio, dial 311.
Filing a Noise Nuisance Complaint
The steps you should follow in filing a noise complaint against a neighbor are listed in our recent blog, How Loud Can My Neighbors Play Music? If you believe that personally confronting someone might make the situation worse, your local government office or police station may be of help in showing you how to file a noise complaint anonymously.
For filing a noise complaint against a neighbor, most municipalities ask for detailed information. Whatever you write down on the form will normally be confidential unless the information might be required in criminal proceedings.
Advice for Apartment Residents
Check your lease. If it has a quiet enjoyment clause, it means that everyone in your complex has the right to live free from noise disturbances made by others. Your lease may also include quiet hours that coincide with local city ordinances. Those are the times where neighbors are expected to keep the volume down.
Dealing with Loud Apartment Neighbors
The sound of footsteps from the apartment above at night isn’t necessarily a cause for complaint, because everyone has a right for reasonable use of their home. However, if the neighbor continually blasts loud music, has an annoying yapping dog, or engages in loud fights after a spouse comes home drunk late at night, your rights to quiet enjoyment are clearly being violated. You have a basis to complain.
If you determine your complaint is legitimate, chances are your other neighbors are experiencing the same. Here are some steps you can take:
A courtesy knock might work. Just knock a couple times on an adjoining wall to remind the neighbor to please keep the noise down. Reasonable people will get the hint. Be careful not to pound on the wall, as it could come across as aggressive behavior.
Pay your neighbor a polite visit. If the knock doesn’t work, try a friendly approach. Remind your neighbor of the apartment quiet hours. Don’t leave a note. Written notes come across as snarky and passive aggressive. If you’re not comfortable with personal confrontation, check with your apartment’s courtesy officer or head of the tenants’ association. Contact your neighbors, who could also provide you with backup.
If all else fails, contact the landlord. Keep a record of the noise disturbances and what you have done to try to solve the problem yourself. Your landlord has a legal responsibility to provide a safe and comfortable environment for all tenants. If nothing has worked to resolve the problem of the noisy neighbor, send the landlord an email outlining your concerns.
If necessary, remind the landlord of city noise laws and the provisions of your lease. Tell the landlord that your next step will be to file a formal noise ordinance complaint. If the situation continues, file the noise complaint with your local government. (See above.)
Soundproof Your Home and Apartment
Remedies for noise disturbances typically amount to someone telling the noisy person to turn the volume down or face a fine. You could also bring a noise nuisance lawsuit or have the police cite the person for disturbing the peace.
In ordinary circumstances, however, the best approach is to soundproof your home. There are complaint-proof noise intrusions like street traffic and other environmental noises that are amenable to a permanent remedy. You can enhance the quiet enjoyment of your home or apartment and restore peace and quiet with Sun & Sound window panels. They are not window replacements. They are panels that soundproof your existing windows to insulate your home from outside noise.
Apartment residents can take advantage of the Sound & Sun buy-back program. Purchase and install the window inserts for the term of your lease, and Sun & Sound will buy them back with up to a 50-percent rebate of the original cost.
Ready to get some peace and quiet? Talk to us about installing soundproof window inserts in your home.