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Q&A: What to Do About Noisy Neighbors?

Q Our upstairs neighbors always have loud noises coming from their unit: TV,  music, video games, etc. Our condo building is older and everything can be  heard from above. Our bylaws don’t really specify any rules about noise except that it has to be “reasonable” and cannot occur between 10 p.m. and 8 a.m. The noise is outside of those hours  but it is truly disruptive to us. We have tried to speak to them about it but  they say it is actually not that loud and within normal hours. Please advise.  

 —Stop the Music  

A “Chicago has many older buildings converted to condominiums, which are subject to  problems of noise transmission between units or into the common elements of the  building,” says Chicago-based attorney Barry Kreisler. “There are at least three approaches which you can take to deal with the problems  you are experiencing but you may want to do some investigation and  fact-gathering before moving forward to build the case for obtaining assistance  in resolving your problem. This might include buying or renting a metering  device to measure the sound level in your unit at various times of the day and  night as well as researching what levels of sound are acceptable to most  people. Once you are ready to move forward, you can consider these options:  

 “First you can ask your condominium's board of managers to consider and adopt a  rule as to floor coverings and noise abatement between units. The boards of  many older condominium buildings have adopted rules requiring carpeting or  other noise reduction measures in certain rooms, to deal with the problem that  the older buildings frequently have hardwood floors and no sound insulation  between floors.  

 “You can also ask your condominium board to adopt more specific rules as to  permissible noise levels emanating from any unit into another unit or into the  common areas of the condominium. Such a rule could be expressed in permissible  decibel levels, to provide an objective limit on noise and to permit verifiable  and objective enforcement by the use of decibel measuring meters.  

 “Finally, most condominium declarations provide that nothing shall be done  willfully or negligently by the occupant of one unit which causes an  unreasonable annoyance or a nuisance to other unit owners or occupants. If the  noise problem is significant enough to constitute a nuisance, the board  actually could, if it chose to do so and after notice to the offending unit  owner and an opportunity for the unit owner to cure the problem, maintain an  action to dispossess the offending unit owner from his unit. If the board is  unwilling to maintain such as action, you could sue the offending unit owner in  the Chancery Court, seeking an injunction against the nuisance.”  

 

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