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Home » Landlord & Tenant FAQ, Noise

Noise and Neighbors

last updated on September 10, 2009 – 10:15 PM61 comments

Noisy and problematic neighbors are one of the most difficult issues to solve.

First off, both parties are tenants. Both have rights. These problems range from neighbors selling drugs to throwing an occasional party. It is frustrating for the neighbor who is being disrupted. Complaints about noisy kids, an older adult listening to a loud television or people playing rap music are often signs of a biased complaint. If the complaints appear to be discriminatory or unreasonable in nature, the complainer may not have realistic expectations of apartment living. It requires a certain amount of tolerance.

No ready-made solutions exist for neighbor-to-neighbor problems. The law does not proscribe a process to deal with this situation as it does with the ‘Repair and Deduct’ remedies in the Chicago Ordinance. There are steps the tenant can take to try and resolve the difficulty. Whether any of these methods work depends upon many factors, including the nature of the actual problem, how much the landlord is willing to cooperate and what the tenant is willing to do. The following are suggestions:

Direct Approach
(This approach is not recommended when drug dealing is involved and for cases of a violent neighbor.) First encourage the tenant to talk directly to their neighbor. Often people disturb others without being aware of it and are willing to modify their behavior such as setting quiet times or not wearing wood platform shoes inside. The Center for Conflict Resolution can help mediate these situations. The landlord could possibly be included in the mediation. The other benefit to this approach is that the tenant may find out that the person they suspected of wrong doing may be innocent.

Contact the Landlord
Let the landlord know that s/he has the responsibility to ensure the tenant the quiet, peaceful enjoyment of the premises. The landlord has the power to evict noisy neighbors and drug dealers. They can also install carpeting or some other sort of soundproofing. The landlord has the responsibility to take some action.

Contact Other Tenants
Often noisy neighbors will be disturbing other renters and their support will be helpful in getting rid of a problem tenant. Organize a group of concerned tenants and write a common letter. It will also help build a tenant’s case that the problem is real.Call the PoliceThe police will help to mitigate the very immediate situation. They can warn or arrest the tenant. A police report will also serve to document the tenant’s complaint. By asking the tenant if they have called the police, it will help you and the tenant put the problem in perspective. If they say for example “Oh it’s not that bad,” then I would suggest they try mediation.

Serve the Landlord with Written Notice
If the landlord fails to take any action and other options fail, the tenant can write the landlord and give him/her a minimum of a 14-day notice to comply with their duty to ensure the tenant a reasonable quiet and peaceful premises. The tenant should provide the landlord with a detailed description of the problems and ask the landlord to remedy the situation. In the letter the tenant should ask the landlord for a response as to what action they have taken or will take.

Document the Problem
Encourage the tenant to create a journal detailing days, times and what happened. The tenant may need witnesses to back up their assertions. Friends and neighbors can be witnesses. Should the landlord fail to take any action after being contacted and the problem is a serious one, the tenant could give the landlord a 14-day notice (to be on the safe side the tenant may want to give the landlord a longer notice, say 30 days) under the Chicago ordinance to terminate the lease under section 5-12-110 a. In the letter the tenant should inform the landlord that the situation has rendered the apartment not reasonably fit and habitable. If the tenant does not want to terminate the lease, s/he could also reduce the rent by giving the landlord a 14-day notice to alleviate the situation or else the tenant will reduce the rent to reflect the reduced value of the apartment. As in the case repairs, the tenant should be very conservative in the amount taken off the rent

NOTE: The housing laws do not specifically mention noise and there is no case law on this either way. Attorneys disagree about what rights tenants have under State and Chicago law. Some attorneys believe tenants have no remedies under the law. Caution is advised in counseling tenants with problems. We believe the tenants do have rights but they should be warned that should the courts rule against the tenant he/she could be held financially liable for the duration of the lease. If the tenant is confronted with a possible life threatening situation, let s/he know that the penalties are not automatic. The landlord still needs to take the tenant to court and get a judgment. Tenants complaining about drugs or crime in the building are more likely to succeed in today’s anti-drug and crime hysteria.

If the noise is at a level that can be considered offensive to the general environment, you may be able to seek remedies outlined in 11-4-2740 of the Chicago Municipal Code.

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61 Comments »

  • Stacey says:

    Hi, we are having problems with our downstairs neighbor. We are on the top/2nd for, they are on the 1st and there is also a basement unit. The 1st floor has been complaining about our children “running”. We have 2, a 6 year old and a 22 month old. The 22 month old does not run, she walks, loudly as toddlers do. Since a problem was brought to our attention we have made changes and our children are considerably quieter but the complaints have increased. The landlord has been told and he believes the complaints are unreasonable just like we do.
    They say our children have been this noisy for the year that we have lived here but the toddler only started walking 9 months ago.
    They have been playing loud music that vibrates our apartment since the first week after we moved in. They argue, in a very scary way, multiple times a week often early in the morning waking my children.
    We’ve tried to reason with the woman downstairs but all she does is fight with us. They have begun pounding on the ceiling whenever there is a sound whether it’s 9:30am, noon, 4pm or 7pm.but they say they have only pounded twice when really it’s been at least 5 times in the past month.
    Is there anything we can do? It seems she is being discriminatory and also harassing us. The landlord has suggested to her that it might be best for her to move since this urban living environment does not seem to be a good fit for her. But she refused.

    • These are difficult situations to resolve. If the relationship becomes threatening, then you may want to involve the police. Another suggestion is to document everything. Their noise, when they pound on your ceiling and what is happening at the time and when you contact the landlord. Sometimes in these situations, mediation can be helpful. You can call the Center for Conflict Resolution (312-922-6464) and they may be able to help with that. Finally, have you spoken with the residents in the basement unit? If they are having problems maybe they would be willing to contact the landlord.

  • Angela Miller says:

    Hello,

    I live in a pet friendly building, however, my neighbors dog barks constantly, actually nonstop. I believe something is wrong with the dog. There are other pets in the building. I have approached my neighbor about it and she took defense and said it wasn’t her dog and that he didn’t bark. The following day, I ran into her in the hallway and she said that due to her break up with her boyfriend he has started doing this barking constantly. I mean I am not kidding he barks and barks and barks and barks. I am a grad student and try to study when I am not at work, my sons are also studying and we try to block it out but it is not working. I have also talk to the building management about this ongoing issue with this particular neighbor and her dog. I need some help as to how I should approach this matter. I also would like to emphasize I love dogs. My children and I are in the process of trying to adopt a pet. We’ve visited paws and shelter located on the south-side of Chicago seeking to adopt. However, I don’t like to complain a lot about the dog but it is all the time. My neighbor works so she lets him bark and when she gets home in the evening she puts a muzzle on his mouth. When she takes it off, he barks and barks. My neighbor also mentioned that she purchased some spray that she uses and he doesn’t like it and will stop barking for a little while, but starts up again. HELP!!!!!

    • This sounds like a difficult situation. You might want to start with one more attempt at a conversation with your neighbor. I am not a dog expert but maybe there are some steps such as hiring a dog walker that might help which you could suggest or a trainer etc. You can be empathetic with her situation but she needs to know that this is creating a strain on you and your family as you are unable to study while the dog is barking. If nothing comes of that you will have to contact management and alert them to the problem. Finally you might want to see if other people are being bothered by the your neighbors dog.

  • perla says:

    hi i remember i came across this site back in 2011 when i first moved in this apartment and my question was about how to protect my self from false accusations , my neighbor after the first week that we move in stared complaining about me making noise , and that’s what i say the last time and you gave me the advice of talking to her so i have try that two times already but she keeps complaining is gotten to the point where i can’t clean,take a shower,cook,do laundry,watch T.V.,dishes, have guest over and even close or open my door i have to make sure i don’t even drop a penny because even the sound of that will bother her but that is not the worse part , the worse part is that the landlord have clearly taken her side, even do he agreed with me by stating that she was exaggerating and that she needed a life (sad by his words)and i already try talking to her but she keeps saying that is me that have to do as she says and that she is the victim and last night at 12am 02/06/13 she woke up the land lord complaining about some door noise when i came home at 12am from a long day of work so i try talking to her but we ended up yielding to each other PLEASE HELP i already call the center for conflict resolutions but she is not welling to cooperate at this point she is very aggressive and offensive and is asking for my removal of the building ..HOW CAN I PROTECT MY SELF??!!!

    • perla says:

      OMG !!!!!!! i was coming back from picking up my husband from work right in front of the building and i ran across my 3th floor neighbor and he was telling me about him hearing the argument last night so i stared apologizing when the landlord call me and told me that; that was his building and i didn’t needed to apologized to no one and told me to not talk to my neighbor ,and my 3th floor neighbor was telling me how he has the same problem with this woman and how the land lord always goes on , with them too , and that i got them support…again this is a tree story building basement(where i live), first floor(where she rents), and the top floor (where my neighbors that i was talking and apologizing to live)so now my landlord is constantly spying on us!!!!PLEASE HELP

  • Mike and K says:

    My fiancé and I moved to an apt in Ravenswood in Sept. We love the apt and the neighborhood, and have made quite a few freinds in the building and area. The middle aged man who lives above us has been nothing but a problem for both of us. I work durring the day i leave at 7:30 and don’t usually get home till after 8 pm. I get woken up at least once a week between 2 and 4 in the mornin to screaming and cursing coming from upstairs. I have made several complaints I the landlords and they insist it is coming from a different unit and they will check on it. It has been proven to be him as he has even admited such to them. That is one part of our problem. Part 2 involves him disturbing my fiancé. She works evenings and nights. Sometimes from the house sometime outside. She is woken up at least 3 times a week at 8 am to furniture being dropped and pounding on the floors. This will go on throughout the day when se is tryin to sleep. We have made complaints about this. And then there is the fact that he moves his whole apartments furniture at least once a day I know this because I can see it from the street. Then there is the constant screaming durring the day, he gets violently angry in the middle othe day to the point that I have received phone calls at work from my fiancé in tears afraid and from lack of sleep. We just recently found out the neighbors across the hall from him have been making all the same complaints as we have and nothing has happened. And we recently had a fire on our back porch (we kept 2 folding chairs out there) that resulted in the repairs of both our back walk up and the gentleman who lives below us. And still our complaints go unanswered. At this point w are ready to call the police given his violent outbursts and obvious issues with rage. I fear leaving in the morning because I don’t know if this man will finally snap.

    • This sounds like a difficult situation. Sometimes call the police is the best alternative. You can also talk to your neighbors. the more people who work together to get something done the more likely you will succeed. You and your neighbor could write a joint letter to the landlord or you can jointly call the City.

  • Tiffany says:

    I live in a large courtyard building in the city of Chicago. I moved into this apartment when I was pregnant with my 1st. We have been living here for over 3 years and now have 3 kids. Today our landlord stopped over to tell us our downstairs neighbor has complained that our toddler is so noisy every day and that he can no longer stand it. Apparently he has made several complaints within the last few months, and the landlord was waiting it out to see if it would get better. I don’t allow my toddler to run in the house, unless it’s to hurry to the potty, since we are potty training. When she wakes up I don’t allow her to go back into her room until a few hours later, in case the neighbor is sleeping (and my younger ones are usually still sleeping so it’s nice and quiet in there). She has no toys with wheels, like loud cars or trikes, inside the house. All 3 kids are up at 7am (the babies eat and go back down till 9am) and totally asleep by 8pm, with 2 hours of nap time. Therefore, the amount of time they are up and moving during the day isn’t super lengthy nor is it odd hours of the night. If it’s nice out we spend a lot of time outdoors and at the park. I don’t know what else I can do, especially given I am only a few months from having 2 more walkers, and it’s only a matter of time until Chicago’s winter sets in and we are housebound. I raise my kids to be respectful of our neighbors, but at the end of the day they are still kids. I can’t make her sit in one place in utter silence all day long. I know a big part of it is just the misunderstanding of a childless home vs a home full of children. Just wondering what I should know about the situation. I don’t want to feel like my child can’t be a child in her own home.

    • This is a difficult situation. First it is against the to discriminate against families with children. If your kids are not doing anything out of the ordinary then the landlord may not be able to evict you without the possibility of having a discrimination lawsuit.

      Have you spoken with the neighbor below you. Do you know what the issue is. Are they trying to sleep, work, etc. Possibly there may be some way to resolve this by each of you rearranging things a little.

      I do not know if there is any way to soundproof the units. That may also help.

      John

  • Annora says:

    I live in a small apartment, with very thin walls, across the hall from my landlord. I have repeatedly received notices from her warning me of violations to the Chicago noise ordinance. However, the sounds she describes are at reasonable levels. The last time, it was myself and three friends sitting on the couch watching “When Harry Met Sally” (potentially the tamest movie I could put in that sentence). I had kept the volume low, but the sound of our laughing lead her to knock on my door protesting a disturbance to the “11 o’clock Chicago curfew.”

    She was emphatic when I moved in that violations of the noise ordinance would lead to termination of the lease, but I didn’t realize at the time how skewed her perception of the noise ordinance could be. Is there anything I can do to assert my rights and keep the situation from escalating?

  • valerie a says:

    I have a problem with my neighbor upstair, i live in the basement apt. and young lady with her 3 small ages boys, continuely running, thumping, banding, and all day and through the night, they goes to bed about 12:55am in the morning. and I have to school at 6:00am that means that do not get any sleep, until they goes to bed, I complaint to the landlord, but it seen lik they ingore me, i am tired with no sleep and now the noise are getting worse. please help me, tell me what to do!! Tired no sleep in Chicago

    • Noise is a difficult situation to deal with because if is often very subjective. Is there carpeting upstairs? That can sometimes alleviate noise. Have you talked with the upstairs neighbors about the how the noise is impacting you. Some of the problem may be flaws in the building design. Maybe there are some ways to work things out with the upstairs neighbors such as the kids will not play in the room above your bedroom.

  • Matt says:

    I have lived in a building in the Lincoln park/lakeview neighborhood of Chicago and have neighbors complain that they can hear and feel my TV/Music through their floors. The building is older and the walls/floors are very thin. We have discussed the issues in the past but they have become violent and condescending when we pass on the street which makes it very uncomfortable to confront them. Recently, they filed a police report against me where apparently the police came out. I was asleep and not playing anything – TV, Muisc, etc but I still was served with a violation. How do I dispute this violation? How do I protect myself from false accusations? Anything you can share will be very helpful.

    Thanks!

    • I am not sure how to dispute the violation since it was issued by the Chicago Police Department. Is there a fine? Do you have to go to court? If so that may be the way to contest them. You may want to get the help of an attorney. Have you spoken with other neighbors? Do any of them have any concerns? Maybe they will support? Maybe other tenants are having difficulties with your neighbors.

  • Beckie says:

    I live in a condo in a suburb of Chicago. I have lived here since 1999 w/virtually no problems. W/in the last year, the owner has moved out of the unit above me, and he is renting to friends. Since the renters have moved in, and I having an extreme amount of difficulty with noise, in particular, hearing their footsteps when they walk. I do understand that when you live in such close proximity to other people, there will be noise. However, the noise I am hearing is extreme. Their footsteps sould like pounding. somethimes my unit shakes, and they sound like they are coming thru the floor! My mngmt. co. is telling me there is nothing that can be done since they are in compliance with having carpeting down. I have asked what are my rights concerning the peace in my home being distrupted (sometimes at late as 2 in the morning), but no one seems to have an answer, and they do not want to deal with it any longer. I have been thinking about talking to a lawyer, as I do not know how much longer I can take it. My nerves are frazzled. I am unable to sell due to market conditions. Your comments would be welcome. Thank you.

    • Noise is a difficult issue to deal with. Have you spoken with the tenants upstairs? Are there some things that they could do that might lesson the noise. Maybe if they did not wear shoes things would be quieter. If talking does not work, have you called the police? There are noise ordinances in Chicago.

  • Jillian says:

    Hi here’s my problem there are 6 people 4 adults n 2 children who rent a 6 bedroom house that the landlord has divided up into units. My husband n I rent a room in this house n across the hall there is another room that an older man rents with his 2 dogs we all share the kitchen n living room although all we use is the kitchen. But the old man across the hall Always plays his really depressing music REALLY loud everyday after 8pm until like 2am. I have asked him to please turn it dwn since we can even hear our t.v over his music. N the house is pretty good with keeping sound out that’s how we know he has it up Really loud. He in turns tell us to turn our **** up if we can’t hear that hes not turning anything down. We have called the cops the landlord n there is still resolution to the problem.We can’t afford to move right now n besides we have been at this address for 2 yrs he has only Been there 6 months. What eles can we do to have this guy respect our side of the house? Cause we really can’t be having a volume contest anymore I have severe headaches from it and I’ve been nice and polite but I’m really running out of patience. Please any info will be greatly appreciated. We live in Axle Texas

    • Texas is a bit out of our jurisdiction so I hate to offer suggestions. Are there any free mediation services there? It might be helpful to have someone mediate a conversation between you and your neighbor. My other suggestion is to begin documenting the problem and send the landlord regular updates about the problem. Are there any other renters who are bothered by this? You may want to talk with them. A joint letter from everyone to the landlord may help.

  • christine says:

    I have been living in a highrise building in Boston for the past 3 years now. The second year I was here they did major renovations on the outside of the building. The noise from the jackhammering drove me out of my aparment most days to study for school and do homework. They said it would last for a year and it lasted 1 1/2 years. They said m-f 8-5 and it sometimes started at 7 and rolled over to Saturdays and Sundays. They raised my rent $300 for the following year, which I thought was a lot considering the 2 years prior the rent raise was only $50. I just got an e-mail saying they are going to start more construction for the next 6 months. This time it’s directly below my apartment on the Mezzanine level. This space is very open and the constant hammering echo’s through the neighborhood. They are doing it so the building looks nice from the street. They raised my rent $500 more a month for the next year. Is this legal? I cannot even get any peace and quiet in my own apartment. 50% of the tenants in this building are doctors, and I see them strolling in at 8 a.m. from the overnight shift at the hospital. How are they supposed to get any sleep. I often take power naps in the afternoon to get me through my work day, and it will be impossible with the construction right outside my window, not to mention the inconvenience of leaving my apartment to get my studies done. I want to sue them, do I have any legal rights? Please help, I’m going crazy!! They don’t want us to be noisy and disturb our neighbors, yet it’s ok for them to do it on a daily basis, for months at a time, and raise my rent each year?? I don’t get it….

  • Turgut Dincer says:

    I am a little confused about the time (8am to 8pm) noisy devices such as lawn movers are allowed to operate in the residential streets. Does this apply also to summer months? Or is-it 7am to 7pm in summer?

    Could you please clarify.

    Thank you!

    Turgut

  • Amanda says:

    Mr. Bartlett,

    I realize most of these comments are a year or more old, but I am hoping you can help me out. I live in a high rise in downtown Chicago. A few months ago, someone moved in to the apartment adjacent to my bedroom. Since he moved in, I constantly hear the bass from his stereo/television booming loudly when I am trying to sleep. At first, I resorted to just knocking on the wall to let him know it was a little loud. Now, however, I will either knock on his door or text him to let him know that he needs to turn it down. I have been really nice to him regarding this issue, only contacting the building once when he ignored my knocks at his door. As I sit in my living room typing this, I can hear his bass from my bedroom.

    I have altered my schedule so that I am getting one less hour of sleep (sleep that I desperately need) so that he may play his music, but that doesn’t seem to be enough for him. Last night, I asked him at 11:30 p.m. to please turn it down and he got a bit of an attitude with me over it, telling me that he wanted to be able to listen to his music and I ask him to turn it down every night. I hardly think letting him play his music late and asking him to turn it down when I am trying to sleep is unreasonable. There has been no progress with the noise level since I started complaining to him a month ago. And the only time I filed a complaint, he knocked on my door and jokingly warned me never to call the building on him again. Despite his joking manner when he said it, I am actually scared to report him because I don’t want him to keep confronting me every time I report him. Any suggestions on how to deal with this situation?

    • It seems like you have done a lot of what I would have suggested. Have you spoken with other neighbors? Are they bothered the noise. There is safety and power in numbers. If you the neighbor threatened you, that is a police matter. In the end if the person is not paying attention to you then you will have to take your complaints either to the manager, owner or police.

  • Heather says:

    Hi,
    I’ve been reading the comments on here and although late to the board, I would love to seek advice on my situation. I moved into my new apartment in May and was of course given the “place is quiet” pitch. So, after moving in I realized I lived next to a family of 2 parents, a 6 month baby and a 2 year old toddler in a one bedroom. Now this would be okay, but the kids are beyond wild, throw themselves into the front door hysterically at 6am and wake me up (I’m located all the way in the back of the apartment). Also, they scream blood curdling screams until 11pm – midnight. Some screaming sessions go on for hours.
    I go to use the bathroom, the kids are in there, banging the walls. Also, they love to bang all of the walls, repeatedly, with a hammer or toy after 7pm until around 10 or 11pm. After this, the kids then run wildly all through the night making my apartment vibrate and have also watched my vaccuum cleaner get knocked over and my bike on the wall move back and forth.
    I asked them about this and they responded “oh, they just like to play” but this is beyond playing and we have a beach and playground across the street from the building and I’ve not heard any other kids at all, and the building is full of them. Also, my walls are not thin, and no other neighbors can be heard. Some days I come to a few people standing outside their door wondering what is happening. One day I came home to find them and the neighbors fighting because the toddler was found wandering on a busy street. Other neighbors have asked “how do you live there”.

    After speaking with them and having them just brush it off, I contacted the manager of the property and he said he would meet with them. It was better for a week, but then the kid started running into the door, slamming into it like a bull. Also, the parents began slamming the door constantly, shaking my apartment.

    Currently, it is clear these are inconsideret people not paying attention to the kids and my apartment is inhabitable….I actually leave to sleep about 3 nights out of the week at a friends due to this. I am also to the step of calling child protective services because the screams are not normal, they are blood curdling as if she is being hurt. Even a neighbor asked what do they do to the child. Crying and screaming blood letting screams at all time of the day and night. Also, I knocked on their door again and was greeted with a “Who the hell is this now” from the tenant. I contacted the manager again and am now waiting what to do, but I wanted to see if there was more input and advice on what to do besides moving and leaving another victim to suffer.

    P.S. I’ve lived around kids from infancy to teenage years all of my life and have never encountered this, so this is not a letter from a non knowledgeable person that understands kids noises, more concerned and would like to resolve this peacefully.

    Thank you for your advice.

    Heather

    • Are other tenants being impacted by the family? You might want to greet some of your neighbors and see if they are having the same problem. If so you may want to draft a joint letter to send to the owner. I am sorry but noise is one of the hardest problems to resolve. You may want to call the police as they could be violating City noise ordinances.

      • Heather says:

        Hi John,
        Thank you so much for replying. I was able to get ahold of the building manager today and he explained that the building is under a noise ordinance and that this is not the first time having an issue with the tenants next door. They have arranged another meeting with them to see if they can resolve the issues there. Also they did offer to move me, but I did not want that to be the end all.

        I did let them know about the fights in the hallway, also I am speaking to another neighbor that has witnessed the disturbances and had also been affected. Also, I learned that I was not the only one concerned for the kids in the apartment as well. My neighbors down the hallway asked me what are they doing to the child to make it scream so bad for so long. The screams or so horrible you can hear them all the way down the street from the building.

        In addition I made it clear to the manager to check how many people have been in and out of my current apartment against how long they have been in theirs. He stated that I was right, everyone who moves next to them never resigns their lease for a following year. So I told him that he can keep losing good tenants or finally put a foot down on the one bad tenant. I also included that I will take this issue public via yelp and reviews if it is not resolved to which he was very responsive to and understood that this cycle with this family needs to come to an end.

        I’m hoping we can come to a civil solution that works for everyone. It is a beautiful building and a great apartment with the terrible tenants removed. Thank you again so much for your advice.

        Kind Regards,

        Heather

  • Annie Vaughn says:

    What can I do about the following: I have a neighbor who is harassing me with notes on my door (sometimes 4-5) – the notes for the most part make no sense. I’ve been in my kitchen and have heard her at my door, I thought someone was trying to break in but it was her trying to shove notes in my door. I’ve asked her to stop it. I was out of town for a week and she used duct tape to tape the notes on my door and when I pulled them off so when a huge piece of paint. She leaves her front door latched but open all day every day and makes a complaint if she hears me in the carpeted hallway taking my laundry downstairs or going to work in the morning. I’ve talked to the landlord, the manager of the building but she keeps doing it, can I get a harassment or restraining order against her?

    • This is a tough situation. Neighbor to Neighbor problems can be hard to resolve and there are few laws that govern the situation. Have you tired to talk with the neighbor? Sometimes that is helpful. The Center for Conflict Resolution (312-922-6464) has a mediation program that is sometimes helpful in situations like this. You could try to get a restraining order. You will probably need the assistance of an attorney. What have the owner of the manager said. Are they willing to talk with her?

  • Sherry Horton says:

    John, thanks for responding; however, can you call the city if you know for a fact that there are 7-8 people, including children living in an one bedroom apartment? we (other tenants in the building) see these people come and go everyday. There are 2-3 kids, one teenagers, and three adults. And by the way, these are the same people that are keeping up the distubence above me.

    • If the tenants are bothering you and your neighbors with excessive noise, one possible solution to this is to work with the other tenants in the building to send the landlord a joint letter demanding that the owner take action. Certainly the owner can evict tenants who are noisy and who have not changed their behavior once they are warned.

  • Sherry Horton says:

    I live in an apartment building on the sourthside of Chicago. The building use to be a really nice and quiet building, before it was sold to the current owner. My problem is since the new ownners have taken over, i’ve had two sets of loud and unruley neighbors within the last three years. I live on the 1st floor and these neighbots have lived above me on the 2nd floor. The first set of neighbors eventually ended up being evicted, but that was a long and drawn out process. Now i have anotehr set. These people take noise to a whole new level and since i have complained, they hve gotten worse. The have moved other family members in with them with kids. They deliberatley pound and stump the floors day and night and anything else they can do to keep up a disburb me (to me this is harrsement).I work and have to get up at 5:00 am every morning; however, they are sleeping at this time. i’ve called the police twice, but by them leaving on the 2nd floor they can see the police comeing and when they do, they become quiet like nothing has been going on. i’ve called the landloard several or more times; she tells the landoard that it’s just her and her baby living in the apartment, when in fact it’s about 5-6 other people that are living up there with her. Besides move, what els
    with here. What else can i do.

    • Noisy neighbors are a problem. There is no easy way to take care of the situation. Is the landlord willing to work with you? The first step is documentation. The owner has the right to inspect the unit to determine compliance with the lease. If the owner is willing to do that it might help. You can try to mediate the situation with your neighbors upstairs. the Center for Conflict Resolution performs mediations. their number is 312-922-6464.

  • Megan says:

    My landlord bought the building nearly two years ago with plans to remodel and promised verbally that the work would done within a few months and that it wouldn’t effect our unit. Needless to say, very little has been done, with the exception of the past couple of months. There has been construction work on the apartment above mine late into the night. Many nights, the work is being done directly over my bedroom to the point where I can’t sleep. The first time I complained (end of January 2011), I sent the owners/landlord an email and they promised it would never happen again and that they are very sorry. Last night, someone was working directly above my bedroom past midnight. I tried calling, texting and emailing to get a hold of them to stop, but the noise continued past midnight. I still have not received a response. This noise is banging, hammering, sawing,general construction noises, ect.

    Over the past year or so, there have been several other construction-related issues that we resolved one way or another: a fire started by a welder in the attic resulting in water damage to our unit; electrical problems that resulted in a loss of heat for several days in the winter; removing a wall and nailing up unfinished drywall, without every sealing the cracks; and various noise complaints from the construction. On one hand, I know that they are doing their best to get the work done, but on the other, I pay rent to live in a certain environment and I would much rather live someplace else where I didn’t have these problems. My lease isn’t up until the end of August.

  • Rogers Park Tenant says:

    My apartment borders my building’s back gate. Whenever people use this gate, it slams shut with such force that it causes my apartment walls to shudder. I’ve complained a number of times to my landlord and they’ve not even responded. Any thoughts on what I can do?

    • This sounds like a bad problem. When you have complained to the landlord what was the landlord’s response? Are other tenants bothered by the noise? If so you may want to get a group together to ask for the landlord to fix the problem. You may want to call the City at 311 and ask for an building inspection. There may be some sort of violation. Noise is a difficult problem to resolve as there is often not a code violation associated with it. You should contact an attorney and see if there are some other steps that you can take.

  • JonDCH says:

    Mr. Bartlett,

    I’ve read some of your commentary here. You frequently cite the city lacking apartment (or multi-unit, neighbor induced) noise laws as a reason for not expecting remedy via the courts. Is it your belief that a person could not, or would not be successful, bringing small claims or pro-se suit against their noisy neighbor because the judge (or judicial admin. or whatever) would cite there are no laws pertaining to these nuisances?

    • I am not saying that there may not be legal action that you or an attorney can take. Our web page is an information and referral site and we do not provide legal advice. There may be cases where in fact the landlord could be held liable for damages. In the law there are no specific remedies to these situations. When the law is vague it would be irresponsible to make interpretations that could lead to evictions so we do not make suggestions as to what actions to take. If you feel that you have case then you should contact an attorney. We can also work to change the laws that would provide renters with recourse if they are adjacent to a noisy neighbor.

      • JonDCH says:

        Mr. Bartlett,

        Thanks for responding to my post. My point wasn’t to landlord/tenant relationships, but to seeking remedy via suing a neighbor for nuisance. Many of the above queries, and others I’ve read on apartment sites, could be addressed in small claims court. The tenant makes a claim that the value of his/her apartment is diminished by the disturbing behavior of his/her neighbor by X amount per month. This is more to the point as I concur, going to landlord/tenant court could yield an unsatisfactory solution. Yes, it might be challenging for a tenant to get the landlord/management company to enforce a contract with another tenant (citing a “do not disturb other tenants” type clause in the lease) or protect the complaining tenant’s rights to private enjoyment of his home when no specific law governs this protection (as you say).

  • S Chaudh says:

    I live in a high rise building and was given 1 week notice about a 3 month construction job in the apartment directly overhead. I am currently home for the very same 3 months with a newborn infant. The sounds are continuous from 830 to 430 pm. WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS?

  • Help!!! says:

    My complaints are not in any order:

    First, the neighbors in the basement apt in our building have surround sound! It’s rediculous! Who gets surround sound in a building?!! The floors are so thin so that you hear conversations and anything else going on, so to get surround sound is totally rediculous to me! The building shakes they have their television up so loud. We’ve complained more than once and called the police. I have to turn my television up very loudly just to hear it. I’d rather not live this way.

    Secondly, our landlord has neglected several things at our building. One being the security gate. It’s been off since we moved in. The landlord said he would have it fixed (that the wind blew it off; I didn’t believe that), but we’ve lived there now for 3 months and the gate is still off. Our cars in the back are in the open. Not to mention our apts. He also does not cut the grass on a consistant basis. The grass gets to be over 2 feet before he comes with a weed-wacker and wacks the grass. He doesn’t even clean the grass up. Just leaves it on the top to burn (since it’s been hot outside). Doesn’t water it or anything. I wrote a letter offering to take part of the rent and be responsible for having the lawn manicured, but I didn’t receive a response.

    Lastly, we don’t have working lights on the front or back porch if we come home late at night. We’ve complained about all these things to our landlord, but so far nothing has happened with them.

    • Noise issues are difficult to handle. Have you complained to owner? Are there other tenants in the building and do they have the same the problem. A first step may to talk with the neighbors and to see if they are naving problems and then to write the owner and tenants a joint letter.

      As for the grass, there is no law requiring watering though some there are some regarding the length of the grass. What do the neighbors think? Maybe they could write letter to the owner complaining and maybe you could could complain to alderman. What is wrong with the security gate? There are laws that would allow a renter in Chicago to use their rent to make repairs to problems in your apartment as well as the common area. Here is a link to letters that you can use. http://www.tenants-rights.org/category/landlord-tenant-faq/apartment-conditions-repair/

  • Margorilla says:

    As a follow-up to a previous comment…3/11/10…I want to add that the situation with the neighbors who complained of hearing my TV, that is resolved. But, now I am being repeatedly harrassed by a woman who lives below me with her dog. She constantly complains of noises that she alleges are coming from my unit. I have told her that I do not know what she is talking about and her complaints are about different types of noises everytime…EX: running, knocking, chairs dragging, balls bouncing, etc. She claims the noises bother her dog. She calls, comes over, sends text messages. She even knocked on my door on Easter Sunday while my family was here complaining of a knocking noise (It appears it may be the plumbing..?) and said her dog was ‘freaking out.’ I now have a witness to her unfounded complaints and her claims that it is her dog who is bothered by the noise. Then, I rec’d a letter from the condo assoc. and they said they had to investigate, they did not and did not grant me the hearing I requested; then I was fined $100. Recall, the bldg is of substandard construction and I hear noises constantly. Recently, I heard loud banging noises…couldn’t tell exactly where they were coming from, but I rec’d 2 text messages from her asking me to stop the NOISE, claiming she had to leave with her dog b/c of the noise. I spoke with other neighbors who said that they were the ones making the noise. This woman didn’t even ASK if it was me, she just assumed and now it is obvious she is targeting me. (FYI- I rent, she owns and the owner of my unit believes her, claiming that there have been so many complaints, ?? though no pattern here, obviously…and no proof!) Again, I live a very quiet life style and have never had these problems in the past 20+ yrs. I plan to file a complaint in Small Claims Court for the abuse of authority in levying the fine, as well as, violation of due process, not to mention the harrassment and a refundable deposit that I have been owed since Oct 09. This totals nearly $400.00. Do I name the Board of Directors or the HOA, or all, including the woman. I found an article written by an atty – Jordan I. Shifrin – “Community Associations and the Power to Levy Fines” that contains some valuable info regarding such.

    • K. Foster says:

      I am experiencing a similar situation but mine is much worse. As of now, I am looking for a new residence. I have lived in my building for 2 years but have only live in my current apartment for 10 months. My downstairs neighbors are an elderly woman and her ‘older’ daughter. They are EXTREMELY quite… I never hear a t.v., radio, or just ‘living’ noise… nothing. I have been recieveing complaints since I moved into this apartment but these complaints have, in the past several months, began to borderline on harrassment…. not a week goes by that my landlord does not call me with a complaint… sometimes up to three times in a week. It is blatently obvious that my landlord has sided with my neighbors and, since I live alone, I have no one to corroborate my story, witness what i’m NOT doing, or attest to the frequency of the complaints. I’ve been accused of closing my closet door 28 times one night, having a ONE friend over and getting a complaint of having a ‘party’ the next day, asked not to shower so late, asked to ‘cook’ quieter, asked “does my schedule require me to be awake after 1 o’clock in the morning”, have heard my neighbors hit thier ceiling upon me walking from my bedroom, to the kitchen, and back, (and have gotten a complaint call the next morning) have been accused of ‘congregating’ the morning after noticing that a neighbor was watching a friend drop another friend and myself off after a night of being out. The list goes on.

      I am not a noisy person. I have numerous people that can attest to this. I don’t have company anymore.. specifically friends who I know love to talk & laugh and make me do the same (sad right) because I don’t want to have to ‘sshh’ them. I have taken into consideration that my voice does tend to carry, even so, it hasn’t helped. Yes, I am a night owl but and am prone to trips to the kitchen for midnight snacking and trips to bathroom for the obvious but what am I supposed to do…. levitate across the floor?? As of today i’m litterally tip-toeing around my apartment while being asked of my progress finding other living arrangments. I am away from home for days at a time because I am so uncomfortable here but, the day after returning, I can be sure to receive a phone call.

      Sorry to write a book but I am so frusterated and it’s just my word against his and the neighbors. He stated last weekend that I am so disruptive that he stands to loose this whole side of the building… so he would like me to move “expidently”. When I replied that I would need time to accumulate $ for movers & first month rent and security on another apartment he offered to move me… for free… and to transfer my security! Wow. None of this, complaints included, is documented… just verbal. I recently found out that this building was a co-op and believe that some of the older tenants own their units whereas I rent. I am not one to play the race card but……….. what should I do. I am going to move but this is not right and I want him to know that I know it isn’t.

      • People have widely varying responses to noise. Have you met with the downstairs neighbors to try and talk through things? Sometimes that is helpful. What do mean by play the race card? Unfortunately race still plays a large role in our society. Maybe you suggest to the landlord that he install better sound proofing between the floors because you are not doing anything out of the ordinary and are trying to be as considerate as possible or even ask the landlord to come and listen.

        If you decide to take up the owner’s offer to move you for free and transfer your security deposit, make sure this agreement is in writing.

  • sharon chicago says:

    i moved to a high rise where i am on the top floor where no one is above me. iwork 55 hrs a week 5 days a week. i am really tired @end of day, all i want to do is sleep. my neighbor next door is playing is guitar w/speakers really loud and singing (sounds like a parrot being killed), anyway it is so loud i can hardly think. i have had to go down to lobby and ask desk clerk to go and him to turn it down. most times he plays past 10pm. i have to be uo @ 4am and rarely get eniugh sleep. i am 54 years old w/severe high blood pressure which i have mentioned to bldg manager. she talks to him but @ times it does not get through.

    i feel i should be able to come and enjoy my apt just as everyone else. when i came to look @ apt in march 2010 i didn’t say to manager “give me the apt with the music that comes thru the wall”!

    when i complained tonite i told manager something has to be done that i am afraid i will have a heart attack bc of this. she said she’d talk w/him. i don’t know what to do.

    • I very much sympathize with you but unfortunately there are no specific rental laws that deal with this situation. I would call your alderman and complain so that they will know this is a problem that does not have a remedy. The city does have noise ordinances, they are enforced by the police. Are there other people living on your floor or right below them? Do t hey have the same the problem? If so the group of you may want to approach the manager and demand that something be done.

  • rob says:

    the rooming house tenents next store to me make noise between 10pm..7am what can i do one vomits all night long under my window

    • The residential landlord and tenant ordinance does have any specific regulations regarding noise. If you feel that there should be laws you can call your alderman and let them know about your problem. What is it that you would want to do and is fair? Does you landlord own the building next store or have any control over the people in the building next door. There are noise laws and for the most part the police enforce them.

  • Heather says:

    I am a renter in a condo building that has several different landlords. The condo directly above me is rented as well by a landlord different than my own. The walls are extremely thin and I can hear every step the tenant above me makes. The floor boards creek so loudly I can hear them even while wearing earplugs. Large, visible cracks have formed on my ceiling from the tenants upstairs. I cannot sleep at night due to the noise and the new tenant stays up late and wakes up early-waking me up each day before 6am. I am not locked into a lease, but would prefer not to move if the floor was fixed. Since the floor is defective and the cause of the disturbance is the owner of the condo unit above me responsible for making repairs? I have asked my landlord since Dec. to help me with this situation and he has done nothing to help. Please help!

    • There are no easy answers to this question. I would invite others to chime in with suggestions. It will be difficult to hold your landlord responsible for something that is not their fault. It does not necessarily sound as if the upstairs renter is doing anything out of the ordinary. Is this a condo wide problem? If so the condo association may have to go after the developer to make the repairs if the developer still exists. Are the floors wood? Would carpet help? Any idea as to how much it would cost to fix the floor. You could call 311 and ask for an inspection and if there are code violations and there may be then the owner will be cited and required to fixed the code violation.

      • A. Anne Holcomb says:

        Heather & John,

        Some years ago, I had a similar problem concerning “noise” from my stereo that bothered an elderly woman, a tenant who lived above me and had lived in the same apartment for decades. This is how it got solved. I spoke directly with the woman (who had been pounding on her ceiling with a broom handle and complaining to the landlord every time I turned on some music). I was very nice (read kissing butt) when I approached her. I asked for her patience in working the problem out. I asked her to participate in a test where I would turn the music on, raise the volume gradually, and she would come up when it got too loud to tell me. Then I would mark the volume control so we would have an agreed upon limit. She did it and I marked the volume in front of her. Funny thing: the limit where she asked me to make the mark on the volume control was higher than I had ever used when I was listening to music! This tells me that the real issue was never about how loud the music was but was probably about something more psychological concerning what she was going through– power and control, maybe? At any rate, there was a happy ending!

  • This would be best done by calling our hotline at 773-292-4988.

    • Yvonne says:

      I have owned and lived on my .55 acres for 19 yrs. The property across from me has been rented out for the first time and they are noisey!!! Example: every sunday they set up a circus like party with very loud music. On this sunday 3 weeks ago the renter had invited us to their party, i respectfully declined but asked them to p.ease keep the music down and they said no problem. That request was ignored. I called them and asked them agqin, theresponse was nasty and ignorant. They said sincthey paid rent and it was daytime they could be as loud as they please, so i called the police, it took 3 calls and 3 police requesting that they turn it down. On the last call the police shut the loud party down. The next day when i went down my driveway to get my paper i was verbally assaulted by these people. The following week was 4th of July and was assaulted by them throwing firecrackers on my wooden deck and shooting bottle rockers at my house. I can no longer garden in my front yard because of their behavior. I have begun building a new house on my other property 40 miles away. I love my neighborhood and had no intention of leaving!! I have sent letters to the owners with no response. Can i sue for moving expenses? Or harassement? I am awfully scared of these people. I seldom leave my home now. What if i can’t sell my home due to these white trash renters? She is also renting out rooms since her children have left the rented nest. Please help, i am genuinely scared of this womens crazy boyfriend. She was nice at one time. Also my husband works nights qnd i am at home with my 14 yr old son.

      • ltargos says:

        I am very sorry about the stress you are experiencing. Your best option at this time is to DOCUMENT everything that is happening. In a journal by the front of the house detailing every interaction, with pictures and/or with video. When something happens on your property or a threat is made, call the police and make a police report. Make a diary of your interactions with these neighbors. It may be worth its weight in gold further on down the road. I cannot emphasize that enough.

        It may also be wise to ask a lawyer to mail a cease-and-desist letter to both the tenants and the landlord detailing the incidents and possible legal action if the harassment does not cease. Sometimes a letter from an attorney is enough to show people they’re pushing someone too far.

  • Margorilla says:

    My neighbors complain of noise from my apartment (condo I rent from owner) and these neighbors sleep in their living room which is adjacent to my living room. They obviously hear my tv b/c they sleep against the wall where my tv is. The only wall I can have a tv. I have NEVER had this problem in the 20+ years I have lived in Chicago and am getting harrassed continuously. I do not want to bother anyone, but this is clearly a problem. This bldg is not SOUND proof considering it is a condo bldg built in 2004 and it has been a nightmare. What are my remedies? The landlord told me to get headphones…I can’t even watch tv??? I basically live a very quiet life style. I do not throw parties, I do not listen to loud music….I just don’t understand??

    PLEASE HELP!

    • Noise is very difficult issue to deal with. Over the years we have heard from numerous tenants like yourself or who are on the other side. We do not have any great solutions. I might start by trying to have have a conversation with neighbors. Possible if you both re-arranged your rooms some then the noise would not be so bad. The Center for Conflict Resolution offer free mediation which can sometimes be helpful in these cases. Here is a link to the website http://www.ccrchicago.org/ I would write a letter to the owner stating that you are only watching the television at a reasonable sound level. You could ask the owner for help in dealing the neighbors next door. Does nay anyone else have any suggestions?

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