Resident complaints are chief among concerns routinely brought to condominium boards. These concerns range from reasonable to seemingly frivolous, but it is important for boards to take all of them seriously to reduce the impact they might have on an overall community.
Litigation is certainly an extreme (and expensive) option, but it is one that boards and condo property managers can easily avoid by leveraging some of the following tips for handling resident noise complaints:
Listen to all concerns
Whenever there is a complaint from a resident, it's important to make that person feel as if the concern is being taken seriously. Understand that noise can be disruptive to a resident's lifestyle and do not dismiss the concern as troublesome or difficult. Also, hear it for yourself. Visit the location where the noise is allegedly taking place, and listen so that you can better understand your resident's concern. Every resident complaint deserves a response, even if there might not be a good solution.
Apply the standard of reasonable sensitivities
After hearing your resident's complaint, ask yourself this: "Would a person of reasonable sensitivities be bothered by this concern?" For example, would a reasonable individual be bothered by loud footsteps at 6 a.m. or a loud television at 2 a.m.? If the answer is yes, it can be a useful guide for how you proceed with the complaint.
Put it in writing
Insist that your residents issue written complaints. This will help you avoid chronic complaints made over the phone, and it will also create a paper trail in case you need it later on. Asking your resident to put a complaint in writing also forces him or her to evaluate the severity of the complaint. This will create a natural vetting process for reasonable concerns.
Assign common rules about noise
Clearly articulate your condo property's noise regulations. Insist that floors be properly covered or treated, noisy repairs must be completed during the week and televisions cannot be at a loud volume after certain hours. Educate your new buyers on these rules and periodically remind your existing unit owners of the guidelines.
Appoint a mediator from the board
Consider assigning a board member the job of overseeing noise complaints. This member could act as mediator in matters of neighbour-to-neighbour noise, and could also be in charge of issuing an annual survey to residents regarding what they would like to see the board work on within the association. Thus, you can create a useful communication channel between residents and the board.
Pets, traffic and mechanical noises are fairly common issues condo boards need to address. Not every noise can be reduced, but the best thing a board can do with noise complaints is to make an effort to listen to residents and their concerns.