Who Is Responsible For Soundproofing Between Flats


One of the most common complaints that tenants have for their landlords is Noise issues. As a result of the different personalities that different tenants might have, what a tenant might consider noise might not be noise to another tenant. The noise complaints can lead to friction between the tenants. Therefore, it is important to soundproof flats with noise complaints, but who is responsible for soundproofing between flats?

Generally, building codes do not require that apartments or flats are soundproofed, but the codes also state that tenants have a right to the “quiet enjoyment of their apartments. This can be interpreted that the landlord (owner of the property) or property manager is responsible for soundproofing between flats.

In this article, I will be looking at different special scenarios of who should be responsible for the soundproofing of apartments. I will also be sharing ten tips to ending the noise issues in your rental units as a Landlord.

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Special Scenarios Of Who Should Be Responsible for Soundproofing

The upstairs and downstairs flats may have different owners; in this situation, which should be responsible for soundproofing? Both of the landlords should be liable for their different properties. If the noise is from the upstairs apartment, the owner of the apartment should be contacted.

Can I report a landlord that is not ready to soundproof to the local council? If there are noise issues and the landlord is not ready to address them, a tenant might choose to take the matter to the local council since he/she is entitled to “quiet enjoyment.” The council would then pursue the owner and ensure that the soundproofing is paid for.

Can the council pay for soundproofing? In some cases, if there is excessive noise that the council considers constituting statutory nuisance to the residents, the council can find the owner guilty for not ensuring that adequate soundproofing measures are in place. The council can then fix the soundproofing.

Ten Tips To Ending Noise Issues As a Landlord

The causes of noise complaints are always a result of tenants being sensitive to noise, inadequate noise barriers, or noisy neighbors. If Tenants are beginning to complain about the noise and believe that the issue should be addressed, you should consider the following tips: free and others are expensive.

Find Out If The Tenant That Is Making The Noise Is Aware

Most of the time, tenants are usually not comfortable enough to ask the neighbors to stop making noise, and as a result, the neighbor might not even be aware that they are disturbing anyone with their noise. In situations where the tenant has not attempted to talk to their neighbors about the noise, as the landlord, you should ask them if they are comfortable speaking to their neighbors.

It is better if things are kept friendly, and the introduction of a third party like the landlord can complicate the issue sometimes and make the noise-making neighbors defensive. However, if the tenant has directly addressed the issue with the neighbor, and there is no change, and you believe that his neighbor is excessively noisy, for example, blasting stereo late at night. There is a need for you to step in and probably send the loud tenant a letter.

Suggest To The Complaining Tenants That They Absorb The Noise With Decor

Draperies, throw rugs, wall hangings, tapestries, and pictures can be very helpful when addressing the issue of noise. One important thing to note about multi-house living and apartments is that it is inevitable that tenants are going to hear their neighbors. 

The degree of noise can be reduced to a certain level if floor space and empty walls are reduced through the use of wall hangings, thick curtains, and rugs. 

Suggest To The Complaining Tenants That They Get A Sound Machine

Noise machines, ranging between $20 and $150 in price, produce sounds very much like wind blowing or rushing waterfalls. Noise machines are used in doctors’ offices in masking private conversations. You can choose between brown, pink, and white noises, varying by the sound frequency level. It is even possible for you to download apps for it on Android phones and iPhones.

Have The Heat Vents And Ducts Checked

Sound waves, just like water, take paths that offer them the least resistance. Noise traveling through ducts and vents can be very annoying because the confined and narrow metal space amplifies the sound. You should try to wrap the ducts with acoustical insulation. If possible, replace the ductwork near the vents with lined ductwork while also installing line grilles. 

If The Cause Of The Noise Is Footsteps In A Unit Upstairs, Have A Thick Carpet Installed In That Unit

Often, the cheaper and more effective solution to upstairs noise is installing a thick carpet in that unit; you should also have a thick carpet pad installed as well; it is a lot cheaper than choosing to be soundproof.

The Use Of Acoustical Sealants In Sealing The Cracks In The Existing Drywall

Noise can leak through the cracks in drywall and soundproofing materials. Acoustical caulk or acoustical sealant can be used in preventing sound leakage. If there is no sealant, soundproofing materials and drywall cannot be as effective as they should be.

Have Fiberglass Insulation

Aside from the fact that fiberglass insulation saves energy bills, it can also help in reducing noise through the absorption of sound waves. It is important to note that foam insulation is very effective, like standard fiberglass. If a drop ceiling is what is in the rental unit, having the insulation installed in the open space above the ceiling panels can be very effective in reducing noise from a unit above.

Have Drywall Panels Installed On Floors And Ceilings

According to experts, a vital factor in the reduction of noise is mass. Drywall panels that usually cost between $9 and $12 for a sheet of 4-by-8 are an effective solution when it comes to soundproofing an apartment or room. It is important to make use of acoustical sealants.

Installing Pre-Built Doors and Windows That Are Made To Be Soundproof

If, by chance, the source of the noise is outside and not an adjoining wall, having soundproof doors and windows installed can help in reducing the noise by up to 75%.

Installing Soundproof Layer Between The Panels

Though drywalls are an inexpensive way of adding mass helpful in soundproofing, adding an extra layer of soundproof between drywall layers is a great way of reducing the noise. Damping compounds like Green Glue are not too expensive and can effectively lower the frequency of noise coming from stereos, home theatres, and televisions. 

There are also Pre-damped drywall panels which are more expensive than Green Glue. MLV (Mass Loaded Vinyl) is another expensive option. Even though it is a good source of mass, MLV is more suited for wrapping pipes and ducts than for soundproof layers between panels.

For more information, check out our complete guide to building a home recording studio.

Conclusion

The noise complaints in apartments are tricky but very common, and there is no one sure way to settle it. Generally, it is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that his tenants are not disturbed, so the landlord should be responsible for soundproofing. However, in certain cases, the tenant might choose to take up the responsibility or consider other alternatives to reduce the noise. 

Sources

https://www.allpropertymanagement.com/blog/post/soundproofing-rental-units-10-tips/

https://www.justanswer.co.uk/property-law/cg9y1-who-which-owner-responsible-soundproofing.html

Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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