When you live in a rental apartment or condo, it is natural that you will hear noises from neighbours. But, how much noise is too much? We all have different tolerances for noise and different types of noise bother one person more than another.

When living in a multi-unit building we have to try to be good neighbours so as not to overly annoy neighbours and likewise, they need to do the same. The most noise we encounter in apartments is from the unit above, as noise travels through the floors. But neighbours to the sides, also need to aware of the noise they might be creating.

Wood buildings will always be noisier than concrete ones as concrete is a natural sound barrier. Also, older concrete buildings are often more soundproofed than newer ones, as these days many are unfortunately build with cost savings in mind and the minimum requirements are used and so floors and walls might not be a thick as those built in the past.

So, what can we do to be a good neighbour?

As the saying goes, treat others as you wish to be treated.

  • Keep your TV and music at acceptable levels. Never have too much bass, as this often reverberates throughout the building. This will mean your neighbours not only hear your music but will also feel it.
  • Avoid wearing outdoor footwear in the apartment. Feet stomping around in heavy shoes or boots will be heard by those downstairs.
  • When having friends over, keep the noise down and maybe invite the neighbours too.
  • If you have pets, make sure they are not creating extra noise such as paws tapping on wooden floors, whining whilst you are away or excessive barking. Is your cat knocking things over onto the floor in your absence?
  • If you have children, make sure they are not running around and causing a nuisance to your downstairs neighbour. Also, make sure toys are not being dropped, or walls knocked or pounded. Rugs can be a great answer to this issue as they will reduce noise transfer. With young children, try to avoid excessive crying or other noises that will interfere with your neighbours.
  • When you are cooking, make sure that odours and smoke do not escape your apartment and become an annoyance. Open windows to allow these things to naturally escape rather than them seeping under doors into hallways etc.
  • If your building allows smoking, it does not mean that all residents smoke or like the smell of smoke. Try to smoke outside, on your balcony or put a door draft stopper at the bottom of your door to avoid smoke and smells from escaping.

Most building landlords have strict rules about noise and usually stipulate quiet times within the rental agreement. Most often, these are overnight between say, 10 pm and 6 am. Check your agreement to make sure you are abiding by the tenancy requirements.

If you are bothered by a neighbour’s noise, there are actions you can take to make the situation better.

  • If you know the neighbour personally, just having a quiet word with them might be all it takes. Often, people do not realize just how noisy or annoying certain actions they take are. A quick word in their ear just might be the answer.
  • Speak to your building manager. They are in the best position to talk to the offending neighbour. Also, if several people have issues with the same neighbour, they will be able to log all incidences and take appropriate action.
  • If things persist, then put it in writing to your landlord. Explain the problem, keep a log of incidences and make the complaint official. They are obligated to look into the issue and try to rectify any problems.
  • Parties taking place in apartment buildings can be a big problem and as they are usually at night. Reporting to the building manager, especially if they live on-site will often be all that is needed. Many larger management companies have 24 hours phone numbers you can call to register a complaint, so use that if you experience a problem. Likewise, if your building has a security guard on-site, report the issue to them. If all else fails, then call 311 to report it, but be aware, they probably will not call at the property for several days to address the matter. You might also consider knocking on the door of the party holder, to ask if the noise can be turned down, but don’t put yourself in any danger. Of course, if things are particularly out-of-hand, then call the police.

Remember to set a good example and be the best neighbour you can be, That way, if you have to complain about someone else, you know you are in good standing and that your complaint will be taken seriously. 

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