In a perfect world, all neighbors would be respectful and avoid being so loud as to disturb one another. Unfortunately, some community members routinely make noises that disrupt their neighbor’s peace and quiet. Living near this kind of inconsiderate neighbor can be frustrating. If you are in this situation, you will want to know: What can I do about my noisy neighbor?
California law defines a nuisance, in part, as anything that “is indecent or offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, so as to interfere with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property…” Although it might seem that a loud neighbor’s actions would automatically meet this definition, the court has established some parameters when interpreting nuisance law.
In the 1991 nuisance case, Schild v. Rubin, a California appellate court referenced the following from another state appellate court’s decision: “[E]very annoyance or disturbance of a landowner from the use made of property by a neighbor does not constitute a nuisance. The question is not whether the plaintiffs have been annoyed or disturbed … but whether there has been an injury to their legal rights. People who live in organized communities must of necessity suffer some inconvenience and annoyance from their neighbors and must submit to annoyances consequent upon the reasonable use of property by others.”
As the cited passage indicates, just because something annoys a neighbor doesn’t necessarily mean it can be legally defined as a nuisance. Further, sometimes the activities of neighbors who live within organized communities can be an inconvenience without violating anyone’s rights.
How Loud is Too Loud?
Understandably, everyone in a community will make some noise from time to time. Still, there is a point when a neighbor’s activity can be so disruptive as to be a nuisance. Generally, a noise nuisance is a sound that interferes with another’s quiet enjoyment of their property. The noise would be so loud as to cause an unreasonable disturbance or annoyance to another. In some instances, it may be clear that a sound is disruptive. Such as when a neighbor blasts music so loud that it can be heard three streets away. However, in others, the noise may not be such that it constitutes a nuisance. Defining what can be considered too noisy often requires reviewing a community’s rules and any applicable local ordinances.
Checking Your Community Rules
If you are like many California homeowners, you may live in a common interest development with a Homeowners Association (HOA). When someone buys property within a community with a HOA, they usually agree to abide by certain Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs).
If a neighbor is making excessive noise to the point that it hinders your ability to live comfortably, you can review the CC&Rs for possible violations. Often, the CC&Rs prohibit loud noise during a specific time of the day. For instance, your neighborhood restrictions may include a quiet time from 10:00 pm to 7:00 am. They may also bar certain activities that typically produce loud noises. If a neighbor is violating the CC&Rs, you can file a complaint with your HOA. In some cases, the HOA may have the power to address the violation and take legal action if necessary.
Some municipalities have enacted provisions that establish the maximum decibel a sound can reach before violating the law. Therefore, another approach to dealing with a noisy neighbor is to call the police to report a noise ordinance violation. You could also call to complain about the sound disturbing the peace of the neighborhood. When you contact the police, an officer may talk to your neighbor and instruct them to reduce their noise level. They may also issue a citation.
Talking to Your Neighbor
Although these matters have the potential to end up in front of a California court, it’s often a better course of action to try and resolve the conflict privately. One of the best ways to evaluate your situation is by consulting with an experienced California real estate attorney. You and your counsel can review the issue and discuss your options for resolving the problem.
Contact the Law Office of Raffy Boulgourjian
Attorney Raffy Boulgourjian is a California real estate attorney with over twenty years of experience representing clients in residential and commercial real estate matters. He has the knowledge and expertise to protect your real estate interests. Contact Mr. Boulgourjian today to schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your California real estate legal needs.