How to File a Noise Complaint

Noisy neighbors can be a real nuisance – and in some cases, a violation of leases and local noise ordinances. There are multiple places you can go with a noise complaint: your landlord, local law enforcement, or even your neighbors themselves.

Below, we’ll offer tips on each of these ways to file a noise complaint.

What constitutes excessive noise? Understanding your rights

Before you lodge a noise complaint, try to think objectively about the situation. While experiencing unwanted noise isn’t ideal, each tenant (including you!) has the right to enjoy their space and conduct their daily lives. 

If you happen to live in a building with poor soundproofing, that might lead to more shared experiences than you would hope. But before you make a formal complaint, ask yourself: Is this noise breaking a rule of some kind, or am I just annoyed? Your neighbor practicing the drums for hours on end all night long is a noise violation. Your neighbor using a blender for their morning smoothie probably isn’t.

While your annoyance is warranted in either case, you may not get very far in escalating your complaint unless a rule is being violated. 

The right to quiet enjoyment

A standard lease agreement includes a covenant of quiet enjoyment, stating that a tenant has a right “to enjoy his or her property without interference.” 

While this statement is vague, it essentially means that you have legal grounds to complain about disruptive noise and that your landlord is obligated to do something about it. Otherwise, your lease will be in violation. If you struggle to sleep, work from home, or simply relax due to excessive racket from outside your apartment, your “right to quiet enjoyment” is undoubtedly affected. 

Local noise ordinances

Most cities have local noise ordinances designed to prevent excessive noise outside of certain hours. The restrictions vary from city to city and may differ depending on neighborhood zoning. Generally, these laws stipulate that noisy activities, such as construction, trash collection, or concerts, occur only during certain hours. They often come with specific decibel limits at certain times of day.

Familiarize yourself with the local noise ordinances in your city. If the noise issues you are experiencing occur outside the allowable window, it may be easier to escalate your complaint.

Keep a record of any excessive noise

It’s crucial to keep a record of any excessive noise you experience during your tenancy just in case the incidents are not isolated. Note the date, time, type of disturbance, and where you believe the noise is coming from. You could even use your phone to record an audio clip of the noise to include with your notes. 

This way, if excessive noise becomes an ongoing issue, you’ll have a trail of evidence to aid you in resolving the problem. 

Speak with your neighbors

In many cases, you may be able to resolve your noise issue by bringing it to your neighbor’s attention directly. They may be unaware of how loud their music is or how frequently their dog barks when they aren’t home. Letting them know that they’re bothering you might be all it takes to end the problem. 

If you feel comfortable, knock on their door and bring up the issue face to face. You could also send an email or leave a note, but speaking face to face is advantageous in a couple of ways:

  • It humanizes you to your neighbors: If you make a kind-hearted request for them to resolve the issue, empathy will probably kick in, and they’ll likely have a hard time disregarding it. A note can easily be ignored, but a friendly face cannot.
  • You can gauge their reaction: When you speak to your neighbor directly, you can feel out their attitude about the situation. Ideally, they’ll be apologetic and open to finding a solution. But, if they are dismissive, you can brace yourself for future issues. 

Contact the police

Depending on the nature of your noise problem, it may make sense to contact the police. Loud parties or sounds that could suggest domestic violence are absolutely grounds for involving law enforcement since someone’s safety may be at risk. 

Having a police officer show up at your neighbor’s door might put an end to the disturbance, but it won’t necessarily stop the issue from coming up again. It can also escalate the situation – your neighbor might resent you for calling the police on them, especially if you haven’t tried to communicate with them directly, either in-person or via a note.

Contacting the police can also be effective when the noise issue is coming from outside your apartment complex. If there’s a construction project interfering with your peace and quiet or a bar that is failing to abide by noise ordinances, the police may be able to intervene.

Contact your landlord

If speaking to your neighbors fails to resolve the noise issue, bring it up with your landlord. You have the right to quiet enjoyment in your rental, and your landlord is obligated to resolve noise issues that are disrupting your lifestyle. 

More than likely, a warning from your landlord will be enough to intimidate your noisy neighbors into keeping it down. You may not be the only tenant having noise issues, and your complaint could help bring about a much-needed resolution for the whole building. 

Provide your landlord with any documentation you’ve collected regarding the noise, as this may help them in their attempts to resolve the issue.     

Send a noise complaint letter to your landlord

If you have ongoing issues with a noisy neighbor within your apartment complex, you should file a noise complaint with your landlord in writing. 

Written documentation of a noise complaint will make it easier for your landlord to mitigate noise problems, especially if they are ongoing. If necessary, this type of documentation can help your landlord build a case for eviction if a particular tenant continues to cause problems.

Letters are instrumental in helping your landlord resolve complaints about noise coming from outside your apartment building. Whether the issue is noise from a construction site, an event venue, or something else, your landlord can use your noise complaint letter to illustrate the problem and take it up with the appropriate parties. 

Below, we’ve included templates for noise complaints addressing both noisy neighbors and external noise, and you can adapt them further to suit your situation. 

Use the following sample letters to draft a noise complaint to your landlord. 

Sample #1: Noisy neighbors complaint letter

Dear [Landlord’s name],

I am writing to inform you of ongoing noise issues with my neighbors in [neighbor’s unit number]. 

As you know, my lease states that this apartment building has quiet hours from 10 pm to 7 am each night. [cite any relevant noise-related clause in your lease]. My neighbors have repeatedly violated this rule.

Here are some examples of instances of excessive noise that I have experienced over the past few weeks:

* Oct 31, 10 pm to 2 am: Loud music from a Halloween party

* Nov 6, 11 pm to 2 am: Loud music from a party

* Nov 9, 8 am to 12 pm: Dog barking incessantly

[continue to detail any additional instances of excessive noise that have occured]

I have attempted to speak with these individuals directly, but the issue remains unresolved. On November 6th, I was forced to contact the police to break up the party. This ongoing noise issue is affecting my ability to sleep and, in turn, my performance at work. 

I am now requesting that you speak with the individuals residing in [neighbor’s unit number] to resolve this issue once and for all.

I am hopeful that we can resolve this issue within the next two weeks. If the noise problem continues, I will be forced to request that you terminate my lease.

You can contact me at [phone/email] if you wish to discuss this matter in more detail. I appreciate your assistance with this issue.


[Your name]

Sample #2: External noise issues complaint letter

Dear [Landlord’s name],

I am writing to inform you of an ongoing noise issue that I am experiencing in my rental located at [include address and unit number of your rental]. 

My unit is on the back of the building facing the basketball courts of the local community center. While I fully support the community center’s services and amenities, I am constantly being disrupted by individuals playing basketball late at night.

Many nights, I struggle to fall asleep because I can hear folks bouncing balls and shouting on the basketball courts well after 11 pm. As you know, local Los Angeles noise ordinance laws state that loud noises are prohibited after 11 pm on weeknights. 

I am hopeful that you can assist me in finding a resolution to this problem, as I’m sure I’m not the only tenant on this side of the building that is affected by this noise issue. Perhaps you can bring it up with the community center managers to ensure quiet hours are properly respected?

Alternatively, is there a way to increase the soundproofing in my rental unit?

I am hopeful that we can resolve this issue within the next two weeks. If the noise problem continues, I will be forced to request that you terminate my lease.

You can contact me at [phone/email] if you wish to discuss this matter in more detail. I appreciate your assistance with this issue.


[Your name]

What can you do if the issue isn’t resolved? 

Noise complaints can be challenging for both landlords and tenants to resolve. Ultimately, it is your landlord’s responsibility to ensure all tenants respect the terms of their lease, including abiding by noise restrictions. 

If your landlord is unable or unwilling to solve your noise complaint, you can likely break your lease without repercussion. Review your lease document and pay special attention to the language around noise issues. If, after taking steps to address the issue, you are still being disrupted by a noise problem, the terms of your lease are likely being violated. This gives you grounds to terminate your lease because your landlord has failed to uphold their responsibilities. 

The Bottom Line

If you live in an apartment, there’s a good chance you’ll experience a certain level of noise pollution that you would prefer not to deal with. However, if excessive noise prevents you from living comfortably within your rental, you are well within your rights to file a noise complaint. 

Providing detailed documentation will help your landlord or the appropriate authorities address your complaint more swiftly. If the noise issues continue, send your landlord your notice to vacate and find yourself a new rental.