Living in an apartment has several advantages, including managed maintenance and repairs, on-site management and no property tax. Still there are also disadvantages to living just one wall away from your neighbour. Sound and noise pollution can ruin the sense of privacy and sanctity in an apartment home. Fortunately, there have been several laws passed to limit the ability of neighbours to make noise and minimise the discomfort of apartment dwellers.
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While there are some realities that apartment owners must assume to be part of the normal experience of living in close quarters with other individuals, there are legal standards in several states concerning the entitlements of renters and tenants. The state of Maryland holds that a tenant is entitled to the experience of “quiet enjoyment” within their rented property. According to the People’s Law website, “The Maryland Court of Special Appeals has held that even where the disruption to tenant's quiet enjoyment is caused not by the landlord but by another tenant, the disruption may be attributable to the landlord because the landlord could take action (such as notification and, if necessary, eviction) against the offending tenant.”
While rules can be put in place regarding noise in apartments, often the level of offensive noise is subject to interpretation. For example, one tenant may not be bothered by loud music while another may be bothered by the sound of a coffee grinder in the morning. Because of this, states such as New York have passed DOB codes that define the maximum range of decibel or octave deemed permissible in a residential area. The law applies not only to tenants but to contractors working on the premises of apartment complexes and co-op buildings. Aggrieved tenants can file a complaint with the city or call the police. While fines and citations are the usual penalty for violating a DOB code, several violations can lead to an injunction and removal of the sound-making equipment.
One of the most common ways to restrict noise and sound in apartments is by time. The state of Texas, for example, has stated that, unless otherwise permitted, loud noises in excess of 58 decibels on residential properties, such as apartment complexes or buildings, shall not be tolerated between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. Exceptions to this rule involve emergency road or house work, such as a water main break or a house fire, or a personal emergency that involves the arrival of an ambulance or other emergency equipment.
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