Stop the Noise! Sounds That Drive Neighbors to Distraction

One person’s music can be a neighbor’s menace. When people live in close proximity (think of your college roommate) there’s the possibility of noise as an issue. The closer the living quarters, the greater the potential for problems. Homes in multi-unit condominium buildings, by their very nature, require more noise control than detached residences.

Of course, there’s a certain amount of noise in shared living space that has to be tolerated. “People walking on floors, kids playing, television, music, are a part of daily life,” says Rick Stern, president of Sutton Management in North Andover, Massachusetts, which manages approximately 30 associations and 2,500 units in a perimeter running from Salem, New Hampshire to Lowell and Ipswich, Massachusetts. “Rules can be put in place to keep these issues to a minimum,” says Stern.

Mark Mediate, president and CEO of Mediate Management in Charlestown, Massachusetts also mentions the issue of people walking on floors, and notes that the issue can be structural. “Older buildings may have less insulation between floors,” says Mediate, whose company manages about 3,000 units in Greater Boston as far west as Concord, Massachusetts.

Lifestyle issues are also a factor, according to Ronald Barba, an attorney and partner at the law firm of Bender, Anderson and Barba, P.C. in Hamden, Connecticut. He highlights several types of situations where noise can be an issue: “Someone works at night and arrives home late at night; older children of condo owners living at home because they can’t afford their own place and play loud music; older folks who have trouble hearing and play the television too loud; loud music from tenants not familiar with the association’s rules. There are also people who are in a protected legal class, such as special needs children.”

“Service dogs prescribed for people for emotional issues can sometimes be a sticky issue,” according to Chris Deorocki, an attorney in Amesbury, Massachusetts who represents 10 condo associations with 190 units. “Sometimes people leave the dog at home when they go to work. Associations have to take into account people’s medical needs,” says Deorocki, “but not to the detriment of other people.”

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