Condo Living – What Is That Sound?

Having attended many community association classes and training sessions, I have been able to connect with many managers who work in the high rise environment.  Whether you live in a New York, Chicago, Miami or Atlanta high rise building we all share one most common complaint – Noise.

Without a doubt, we managers hear from residents more often with noise complaints about their neighbors than any other issue.  Odors are a close second.  Barking dogs, loud music/TV, foot steps/sounds from above, neighbors arriving home late at night and talking loudly in the common hallway, and slamming of doors top the list.

The community manager is usually informed of the issue and expected to “fix” the problem.  However, it is not always within the ability of the community manager or board of directors to “fix” the problem.  The homeowner should work with the management and/or board of directors to resolve their discomfort.

Having discussed this issue with other managers, industry attorneys and neighbors, I offer the following popular suggestions for those affected by the interruption of your “quiet enjoyment”.

1)    Discuss the concern with your neighbor directly.  Many times the person creating the noise issue is simply not aware of how their actions are affecting their neighbor.  Knocking on the neighbor’s door and politely chatting with them about the issue will often resolve the problem.  I recommend that if possible, you try to switch places to understand what the other neighbor is experiencing.  If Mr. Jones’ living room backs up to the wall of Mr. Smiths’ bedroom and Mr. Smith is being disturbed by television volume it would make sense for Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones to tour each other’s condo, with the TV playing, to understand the configuration and how sound travels between the two condos.  Most times, neighbors working together will resolve this type of issue.

2)    Start off in a positive manner with a new neighbor, especially if you share walls between condo units.  Invite the new neighbor over and give them a tour of your home.  Point out the location of your TV, stereo, headboard, kitchen cabinets, etc.  Invite the new neighbor to always let you know if they are being disturbed by activity from your home.  Usually they will do the same.  This effort proactively prevents future neighbor to neighbor problems.

3)    Contact management and/or the concierge desk.  If the problem is ongoing, feel free to report the issue to the building staff.  The staff will work with you in investigating the source of the sound and hopefully a resolution.  Understand that the staff may not be able to “fix” the issue but they will usually assist the homeowner as best they can.

4)    If the disturbance warrants, contact 911 and report it.  Many areas have noise ordinances which can be enforced by the proper authorities.

Sometimes one has to accept the fact that “it is what it is” due to the nature of high rise condominium living.  Case in point, where I live one of our rooms backs up to a neighbor’s kitchen.  Whenever the neighbor is in the kitchen we can hear them closing cabinet doors (bam), running the disposal (grrrrrr), cutting on a cutting board (chop, chop, chop), along with other kitchen sounds.  We accept that certain sounds are inherent with living wall to wall with someone only inches from your space.

Some suggestions to be proactive with noise problems include:

Install area rugs on hardwood or sold floor surfaces

Place stereo speakers up on foam padded risers

Locate televisions and stereos away from shared walls

Wear soft soled shoes or socks when at home

Use a white noise machine in your condo

Use ear plugs

For a barking dog, use an ultrasonic no bark dog collar or other device

Require sound barrier insulation under flooring upon installation

Observe community “quiet hours”

 


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About midtowntim

I'm a licensed community manager, community volunteer and I live in a multi-family high-rise condo.
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