How Can The Board Address HOA Noise Complaints

lady covering her ears | hoa noise

Residents naturally make noise while going about their business. They might mow the lawn with a lawnmower, kids might laugh and play in the yard, and pets may bark when the mailman comes around. However, while these sounds are often harmless, too much noise can border on being disruptive. The board should know what to do when the HOA noise complaints roll in.

HOA Noise Complaint: Is It Allowed?

Can you complain to HOA about neighbor noise? Does the HOA handle noise complaints in the first place? After all, most people would think that noise is just a part of life. Homeowners often think they should be able to enjoy living on their property without worrying about bothering their neighbors.

While this may be true in neighborhoods without HOAs, the circumstances of planned communities are slightly different. Many governing documents have rules on nuisances that cause irritation or inconvenience to others. In HOAs, noise is among the most common nuisances people complain about. 

There are two main types of nuisances in homeowners associations: private and public. The former involves behavior that makes it hard for residents to enjoy privacy, peace, and quiet while using their property. For example, a resident may be playing loud music that disturbs their neighbors.

Meanwhile, public nuisances compromise the community’s health and safety. These include using toxic substances for gardening or throwing cigarettes on grass. Noise issues are rarely regarded as public nuisances. 

Common HOA Noise Complaints

There are several different types of HOA noise complaints in communities. The most common causes of disputes include the following:

  • Excessive dog barking
  • Loud parties
  • Construction work
  • Loud TVs and music
  • Noisy appliances and tools
  • Rackety outdoor activities

How to Address HOA Noise

HOA noise is a common cause of conflict between neighbors. How can the board deal with these issues? Consider the following methods.

1. Establish Clear HOA Noise Rules

a librarian | hoa noise

A comprehensive HOA noise policy will help prevent future noise complaints. These rules should be reasonable and clear. Here are some policies to consider:

  • Noise Levels. Decibel measurements can be used to set noise limits within the community. For example, the community may implement a decibel limit of 85 dB during the day. 
  • Quiet Hours. Establish quiet hours during the night. For instance, homeowners may not exceed 40 dB during nighttime hours for peaceful sleep. 
  • No Amplified Devices. Prohibit amplified devices like megaphones and speakers within common areas to limit noise complaints. 
  • Designated Play Areas. Limit children’s play areas to the HOA playground or private property. 
  • Dog Breed Restrictions. Implement breed restrictions on dogs that are known for constantly barking. 

Apart from these, consider asking the community residents for their input. They can often bring up problems the board has never thought of before. Hearing them out can also reduce homeowner frustration and help you creatively address potential concerns.

It’s important to note that HOAs should also adjust their noise rules over time. They might add a new guideline to address a recurring issue or remove inapplicable policies. Moreover, they should be careful not to create rules that conflict with the governing documents or state law. 

2. Educate the Homeowners

Homeowners should be educated on the effects of noise in the neighborhood. They should also be well-informed about the community’s nuisance rules and noise restrictions. If you have a noise policy in place, make sure to distribute a copy to the residents. You can also send reminders from time to time about noise regulations and quiet hours. 

3. Encourage Resident Communication

Most noise complaints can be resolved through direct communication between the residents. It’s usually best for them to resolve issues between themselves without involving third parties. This can reduce tension between neighbors and foster an open environment.

HOA boards should encourage the residents to speak to their neighbors politely and respectfully. They should seek a compromise that allows both parties to enjoy their property without disruption. Consider including this in the community’s welcome package, social media platforms, and newsletters as a reminder.

4. Implement a Noise Complaint Process

If resident communication does not resolve the issue, the disgruntled resident often turns to the HOA for help. This is where a noise complaint process comes in handy. The governing documents may indicate how to file complaints with the HOA. If not, the HOA should implement a formal complaint process.

Consider providing the residents with a noise complaint form. They can also submit an HOA noise complaint letter to report the violation. The letter should indicate the noise disturbance’s nature and dates and times. It can also include other relevant observations.

5. Verify Whether the Complaint Is Reasonable

Noise complaints can sometimes be unreasonable. For example, a neighbor might have talked too loudly on their phone one afternoon. It’s not a repeat offense and only happened because the neighbor was under immense stress. In this case, it might be better to wait and see if it recurs before issuing a warning. 

To determine whether the complaint is valid, it’s important to ask questions such as: how long has the issue been ongoing? Does the noise affect more than one neighbor? Has the problem persisted even after the resident has talked to the neighbor? 

6. Review Relevant Laws and Rules

The board should review relevant laws after receiving the complaint. State law and local ordinances might include specific noise restrictions in private communities. If you’re unfamiliar with local legislation, consult your HOA attorney. 

In addition, the board should review the governing documents to verify whether the complaint is valid. Some communities may have HOA quiet hours that prohibit homeowners from doing certain activities during the night. They might also have HOA noise restrictions regarding acceptable noise levels. 

7. Approach the Noisy Resident

neighbors shakehands | hoa noise

The HOA board must communicate with the noisy resident first to prevent things from escalating. Remain respectful and courteous when speaking with or writing a letter to the resident. Stick to facts when bringing up the complaints and avoid making subjective conclusions. 

Remember that a simple warning can often go a long way. Outline the community’s noise rules, what actions the resident must take, and the effects of non-compliance. Most residents will stop their actions once they receive a violation warning.

Acting quickly when a resident brings up a noise complaint is advisable. If unresolved, the conflict can escalate and lead to lawsuits. Homeowners might also feel neglected if the HOA does not respond right away. A simple acknowledgment of the complaint can go a long way, but it’s also best to resolve the issue immediately. 

8. Impose Penalties

Sometimes, the association may impose HOA noise complaint fines on the homeowner for continuous violations. However, remember that HOAs can often only do this when their governing documents allow. Moreover, they need to comply with the requirements of state law. 

For instance, HOAs in California are required to adopt and distribute a fine schedule to the members. They cannot exceed the amount listed in the fine schedule. HOAs may also be required to conduct a hearing before imposing fines and other penalties. 

9. Offer Mediation

Written notice and even penalties are sometimes not enough to deter noise. In this case, consider offering to mediate and listen to both sides of the story. The residents can then state their viewpoints, and the board can provide a solution. 

10. Seek Professional Help

HOA boards are not always equipped to handle noise complaints, especially if they escalate into full-blown conflict. Consider asking your HOA manager or HOA attorney for help. They can often deal with the issue and prevent it from becoming a civil lawsuit. Moreover, they can help you pursue alternative dispute resolution if necessary. 

Can Homeowners Notify Local Authorities?

When all else fails, and the noise violates state law or local ordinances, homeowners may contact local authorities to report their neighbors. However, this is usually not recommended because contacting local authorities can create rifts within the community. The tension between the homeowners may not dissipate even after the noise has subsided. 

Hence, the board should carefully warn the residents of the potential consequences. Taking neighbors to court or reporting them to the police is sometimes the wisest option. It’s better to resolve these kinds of disputes internally. 

Can Homeowners File Lawsuits?

Noise might not be a big deal for some, but homeowners file lawsuits against their neighbors. They may even take legal action against the HOA for negligence or failure to fulfill their duties. Lawsuits can be costly and time-consuming, so HOAs should avoid them. 

The best way to avoid lawsuits is to address complaints when they arise. Make sure to have rules that can deter the residents from making too much racket. Moreover, it’s usually a good idea to turn to dispute resolution so residents can avoid going to court over noise. 

Proper Complaint Management

Humans naturally generate noise when they go about their day. Hence, residents will inevitably complain about their noisy neighbors. HOAS must know how to deal with these issues to preserve peace and harmony within the community.

Personalized Property Management is a reputable management company that helps HOAs with operations and governance. Call us now at 760-325-9500 or email us at for more information!