One of the most consistent complaints you will hear from your tenants involves noise. Whether it is noise from neighbors, noise from pets or noise from the street, this is one issue that landlords are all too familiar with. Too much noise can even result in high tenant-turnover. There are ways, however, to reduce noise inside these apartments and hopefully reduce the number of complaints you receive as well.
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.
To check noise coming in from outside, keep the windows closed, then wait for a car to pass or have someone go outside and yell up at you and then speak in a normal volume. Determine if these sounds seem unusually loud inside the property or if the property seems to have adequate sound protection. Do the same thing for the backyard. You should also go back to the property at different times of the day and listen for consistent noises such as dogs barking, children yelling or trains passing by.
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 that everyday activities, such as walking, generate. Next, have the individual speak normally, speak loudly and play music so you can see how much sound is transmitted.
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 the property has an adequate amount of noise protection.
- You can determine there is no adequate noise protection and decide not to buy the property.
- You can determine there is no adequate noise protection, but can allocate the appropriate funds in your renovation budget to introduce soundproofing measures.
- You can determine there is no adequate noise protection, buy the property, do nothing to decrease noise problems and deal with a lifetime of tenant complaints and high tenant turnover.
5 Ways to Reduce Noise:
The good news is, there are ways to reduce both exterior noise and noise between apartments.
- Choose the Right Flooring Material:
If you have multiple floors in your property, you should be concerned not only with noise from next door or outside, but you must also consider overhead noise. Your choice of flooring can have a huge impact on how much noise is transmitted.
For instance, while hardwood floors have a very long lifespan, they are notoriously noisy. There are noise reducing underlayments available for purchase which you lay down before you put down 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.
Cork floors and carpets are flooring choices that offer great noise reduction, but keep in mind that they do have durability issues.
- Properly Insulate the Walls:
If there are noise issues between apartments, a way to fix this is to add insulation. To add the insulation, 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.
- Install Double Pane Windows:
Double pane windows are great at 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.
- Strategically Place Shrubbery:
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.
- Quiet Hours Policy:
A final way to reduce noise inside your property involves your lease agreement. You should include a Quiet Hours Policy as part of your 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., should spell out examples of actions that would violate quiet hours, such as loud music or parties, and should spell out 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 infractions 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 main concern to you as well as inform them of the rules that they may not have otherwise adhered to.