the Noise Control Act (HSC 4600), “All Californians are entitled to a peaceful and quiet environment without
the intrusion of noise which may be hazardous to their health or welfare.”
Under HSC 4600, making excessive noise is against the law, and tenants
can be evicted for multiple noise complaints. Similarly, landlords have
a responsibility to
protect their tenants from excessive noise and failure to do so can violate the “quiet
enjoyment” clause of most leases and rental agreements.
What Is a Noise Complaint?
noise complaint is a formal complaint lodged against an individual or operation for causing
a disturbance or interrupting an otherwise peaceful and quiet environment.
Typically, a resident will notify their landlord of the noise complaint,
and the landlord will take steps to remedy it, especially if the disturbance
was caused by another resident.
In other situations, the landlord or the person complaining may contact
the police or animal control departments for assistance.
Can a Tenant Be Evicted for a Noise Complaint?
Yes. If a tenant violates the quiet enjoyment clause of their lease or
rental agreement on 3 separate, documented occasions, they may be evicted
Nevertheless, 1 noise complaint is not enough to evict a tenant, and the
landlord must have proof of the violations. In some California counties,
noise above a certain decibel is prohibited, but other counties forbid
any noise that is “likely to disturb people of ordinary sensitivities.”
The landlord must show that the tenant violated the lease and/or the law
to justify eviction. They may do so with audio recordings, decibel meters,
and other tools.
How Should Landlords Handle Noise Complaints?
Eviction should be the last resort for landlords who wish to resolve noise
complaints. Still, landlords have a responsibility to prevent harmful
or excessive noise and failing to do so is a breach of habitability.
Landlords should listen to all noise complaints and investigate them thoroughly.
If possible, the landlord should resolve the complaint by speaking to
a tenant directly. In many cases, tenants making too much noise will be
receptive to a warning and remedy their behavior.
If the noise is coming from outside of the rental property, landlords may
need to ask for assistance. For example, the landlord could call the police
for construction that occurs outside of quiet hours or noisy neighbors
outside of the rental unit – or call animal control for a barking dog.
Police can issue fines and even misdemeanor charges for people who continually
create hazardous noise.
What If the Noise Won’t Stop?
Because excessive noise can be hazardous to your health and welfare as
a tenant, failing to resolve noise complaints is a breach of habitability.
As such, you can stop paying rent until the problem is resolved or even
break your lease to move out and away from the noise. In some cases, you may also be able
to pursue damages.
For example, tenants can pursue
personal injury lawsuits if the noise in question caused hearing damage or hearing loss or file
a nuisance suit in small claims court if the noise in question affected
their sleep and/or work.
Keep in mind that weaponizing noise is illegal, and if your landlord tries
to use noise to drive you out of your apartment or rental property, you
will have legal recourse.
If you need to break your lease or sue your landlord,
Allen, Semelsberger & Kaelin LLP can help. We have been handling
cases like yours since 1987 and collected more than $300 million as a firm.
Noise complaint cases can be complex, but we are dedicated to protecting
your rights as a tenant, particularly if you live in a
mobile home park.
For effective, efficient counsel, please call us at (888) 998-2031 or contact us online