Noise complaints are an issue many landlords have to deal with regularly. This noise could be coming from neighboring apartments, from pets or even from the street. It is important to get this problem under control because tenants who are unhappy with their current living conditions are likely to move, leaving you with a vacancy. Here are five tips to reduce noise in a property you already own and also what to look for before you buy a property.
Tips to Reduce Apartment Noise
The good news is, there are ways to reduce both exterior noise and noise between apartments.
The first way to reduce noise in your apartments does not involve any money. It actually involves your lease agreement.
You should include a Quiet Hours Policy as part of the lease agreement that all tenants must sign and agree to. This policy should:
- State when quiet hours are, for example, 10 p.m to 9 a.m.
- List examples of actions that would violate quiet hours, such as loud music or parties
- Explain the consequences if this policy is violated. For example, the first and second violation would be a warning, the third would be a fine and violations after that could result in stricter punishments such as possible eviction.
The Quiet Hours Policy will help give residents confidence that their peace and quiet is a big concern to you and will also inform them of the rules of the property that they may not have otherwise followed.
If you have multiple floors in your property, you need to be concerned with noise from next door and outside, but you must also consider overhead noise. Your choice of flooring can have a huge impact on how much noise is transmitted.
Cork floors and carpets are flooring choices that offer great noise reduction. They are soft and dense which helps absorb noise. You should keep in mind that they may not last as long as other floorings, such as hardwood.
While hardwood floors have a very long lifespan, they are not great at minimizing noise. You can purchase noise reducing underlayments which you put down before you lay the actual hardwood floor. These are great if you are installing a new floor, but are of no help if you already have hardwood floors down. Area rugs can help reduce noise in these situations.
Install Double Pane Windows
Double pane windows are great for minimizing exterior noise. Unfortunately, they do not come cheap. Depending on your location, the manufacturer, and the size of the window, they will run you well upwards of $200 dollars. This cost could be manageable if you do not have many windows to replace or if you see it adding a much greater value to your property than the total cost of the windows.
A cheaper alternative to installing double pane windows would be to hang heavy fabric drapes around the windows. These will not only help reduce noise, but they will aid in decreasing any drafts as well.
Properly Insulate the Walls
If there are noise issues between apartments, a way to fix this is to add insulation. To do this, you will have to open up the walls, but it can make a huge difference in decreasing noise between apartments and in decreasing noise complaints.
Foam insulation boards are also available which do not require walls to be cut open. These could be covered with fabric and hung on the walls like artwork.
Plants Can Help Reduce Noise
Shrubbery has the ability to absorb noise. You can plant shrubs near windows and exterior doorways. You can also position some potted plants inside the property in noisy areas such as common areas or stair landings. This can be a cost-effective way to reduce noise.
Check Noise Levels Before You Buy
A good idea before you buy any property, and one that many property investors never think about is to check the noise levels in and between apartments.
4 Reasons to Check Noise Levels Before You Buy:
Since noise complaints are such a big issue, determining the noise levels inside of a property before you buy it can help avoid problems in the future:
- You can determine that the property has an acceptable amount of noise protection.
- You can determine that there is not enough noise protection and decide not to buy the property.
- You can determine that there is not enough noise protection, but you can include the cost of reducing the noise into your renovation budget.
- You can determine there is not enough noise protection, buy the property, do nothing to decrease noise problems and deal with a lifetime of tenant complaints and high tenant turnover.
Listen for Noise From Outside:
You will want to check for two things:
How Noisy the Actual Street Is: You will want to visit the property at different times of the day and listen for consistent noises. Is there a lot of traffic on the street? Are pedestrians constantly walking in front of the property? Is there a school right across the street? Does a neighbor have a dog that barks at all hours of the day?
How Loud the Noise Is Inside the Apartment: You will want to keep all the windows in the property closed, then listen for noise from the street. You can wait for a car to pass or even have someone go outside and yell up at you and then speak at a normal volume. Use your judgment to determine if the property has good sound protection or if you can hear even the slightest whisper from outside.
Check Noise Levels Between Apartments:
To determine noise levels between apartments, stay in one apartment and have someone walk overhead or next door, depending on the layout of your property. This will help determine the amount of noise created by everyday activities like walking. Next, have the individual speak normally, speak loudly and play music so you can see how much sound comes through.