Noise, the spark that leads to warfare

FOR RENTERS

December 12, 1993|By George B. Laurent

Noise creates more ugly confrontations between tenants than anything else.

Many times, the situation deteriorates into open warfare: constant complaints and angry denials; pounding on the ceiling or stomping on the floor; calls to the police followed by louder noise when the police have left or even more vicious retaliation.

Many tenants who are accused of being loud feel harassed by someone who is unreasonable and overly sensitive. Some say they endure noises from other apartments and wonder why the tenant who complained can't also take the noise in stride.

Other tenants say their life is miserable due to noise by another tenant. They can't enjoy the apartment during the day. And they can't sleep at night.

Here are some points to consider, on both sides of the issue:

Before renting, go to the complex on a weekend and talk to tenants there. Ask how well the apartments are soundproofed and how responsive management is to noise complaints. Management has the responsibility to insure quiet enjoyment of the premises.

In a diplomatic way, try to resolve the situation by going to the noisy tenants, before going to management. Don't express anger. Don't threaten. The offending tenants may not be aware of how noisy they are.

Be considerate of others. Though you pay rent and have a right to enjoy your apartment, you have chosen a style of living -- an apartment rather than a detached house -- that calls for rules of conduct appropriate to living closely with other people. Accept complaints in a positive way. Be aware that hostility breeds hostility.

If sensitive to noise, consider renting on the top floor. If you have lively children, try to rent a ground-floor apartment.

Be sure you adequately cover the floors with rugs. Even if you have wall-to-wall carpeting, additional rugs can help.

For late-hour listening to TV, radio or CD player, use earphones. They produce excellent sound, and some are even cordless.

One tenant told me that the occasional use of earplugs worked wonders for her!

Try to be tolerant of a once-in-a-while weekend party that may be a bit loud.

If it is necessary to complain to management, do it in writing and keep a copy of your complaint. Be sure you know where the noise originates. Be specific about the type of noise and its time and extent.

Talk to others to see if they are disturbed. It is always more effective to have several people complaining.

Try to have a friend, as a witness, stay over at times when there is likely to be noise. Be aware that management has to be fair and many times is caught in the middle of conflicting charges that are not easy to resolve.

If all else fails, consider requesting a transfer to another apartment even if it is inconvenient and costs money. Peace of mind makes the effort worthwhile.

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