RealManage Insight

3 Steps to Handling Noise Complaints Between Neighbors

by Guest Blogger on Jun 1, 2021 1:45:00 PM

Every year, hundreds of millions of Americans are forced to deal with loud, intrusive noises from their environments. When that happens within an organized community, they will often bring their complaints to an HOA/COA board member.

As an HOA board member, you'll find yourself needing to deal with noise complaints at one time or another. Neighbors who believe that they're in the right will quickly bring their complaints before the board, leaving you scrambling to decide how to handle these common issues appropriately.

  • Loud parties
  • Music blasting
  • Engines revving at odd hours
  • Yard work in the early mornings
  • Construction projects
  • Screaming children
  • Barking dogs

All these and more will bring people before the board.

It's not hard to understand the frustration of the parties involved—but you want to be sure that you're staying within the guidelines of your HOA/COA and helping keep everyone satisfied.

 3 Steps to Handling Noise Complaints Between Neighbors

These three steps can provide a framework by which you can handle these awkward situations efficiently and professionally. 

Step 1: Make the Rules

By setting clear rules in place, your HOA/COA can help avoid noise complaints.

Consider concerns like:

  • What steps must members take before undertaking renovations? This is especially important in apartments, where renovations can cause serious inconvenience for other residents in the building.
  • What types of pets are allowed? Not allowing dogs or other large, noisy animals in your units can help decrease the incidence of noise complaints.
  • Do you need quiet hours in your community? Creating a rule that excessive noise can't take place after a certain hour can help make the steps you need to take more explicit. 

If you and your HOA/COA have taken the time to create and communicate clear community guidance around noise issues, you'll not only keep complaints down, but you'll also have a much easier time mediating noise complaints among residents. 

Step 2: Bring Parties Together

One of the first steps in resolving noise complaints is bringing the two parties together. Sometimes, all the parties involved have talked more to you about the issue than they have to each other!

Many people struggle with conflict and don't want to engage with the individual who's causing the noise complaints. As a result, the board may hear about the issue long before the individual in question.

Even if the parties have talked in the past, sitting down together with a moderator from the board (who is well-equipped with community guidelines) can often help everyone reach a reasonable solution.

Step 3: Work Toward Consensus or Compromise

Reaching solutions to noise complaints isn't always easy.

But consensus or compromise is often possible when people are willing to sit down and talk through potential solutions.

  • A homeowner with a noisy dog might choose to keep the dog inside during baby's naptime.
  • A condominium owner who knows their neighbor works night shift might keep their music to a lower level during the day.

In many cases, with a mediator on hand to keep the conversation on track, homeowners can work together to create a resolution that works for everyone. 

Mediators act as a go-between and an enabler in a conversation between the people involved in the conflict. They help them to come to a mutually satisfactory agreement, and to avoid getting derailed or stuck in an argument. (MindTools)

Unfortunately, there are some conflicts in which even mediators cannot help the parties reach a solution. 

What Happens When a Resolution Can't Be Reached?

Sometimes, separate parties involved in noise complaints simply can't reach a resolution that works for both of them. When this happens, it is important to establish clear guidelines that everyone can live with—and to make it clear what "complaints" the board won't be hearing in the future.

  1. Carefully consult the HOA/COA rules. Rather than letting the emotional or persuasive appeals of one side or the other win the day, use the community guidelines to point toward what sorts of solutions are possible—or not possible.
  2. Remember that the HOA/COA board can mediate to a point. When the issues move beyond your rules and guidelines and the guidelines of reasonable behavior, there is little the board can do. The HOA/COA should be careful never to overstep its bounds by meddling, but rather create a forum through which members can discuss and potentially resolve problems with one another. In all this, it's also important to note that the HOA/COA cannot create discriminatory rules against certain populations.

While lack of resolution can be frustrating, leaving the struggling parties in a point of tension is preferable to breaking community guidelines or overstepping bounds.   

The Bottom Line

Knowing your responsibilities as an HOA/COA board member can make it easier to handle the complaints that come your way.

While you may find yourself internally empathizing with one party over the other, by understanding the guidelines and laws that govern your association, you can remain impartial while coming to a ruling that will assist everyone in the community.

RealManage Can Help

At RealManage, we offer helpful solutions to real community problems.

For more information, please contact us today!

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