Tenants Complaining About Noise? Here's How to Soundproof

Lilly Milman

By Lilly Milman

Feb 01, 2024

No one likes a noisy neighbor — but have you ever had a great tenant move out of your rental property because of one? It’s more common than you think. In a 2022 survey of 1,000 Americans, more than half of respondents said they either have moved or have considered moving because of a neighbor. And 61% of apartment dwellers said that they’d be more likely to move because of a bad neighbor. Yard work, loud music and TV, and pets are cited as the most common complaints when it comes to a neighbor’s noise. These all fall under the category of airborne noise, which refers to any sound that is transmitted through the air.

Are your renters complaining about their noisy neighbors? It may be time to tackle the issue; otherwise, you risk losing tenants — or even worse, breaking the law. That’s right. In some states, like Massachusetts, every lease implies the covenant to quiet enjoyment — which protects tenants from excessive and constant noise disturbances.

Luckily, there are a few easy fixes to dampen the decibel level and keep everyone happy.

Consider Carpets or Rugs

While not all renters love the look of carpeting, it’s one of the best ways to reduce the noise of footsteps known to create ire between downstairs and upstairs neighbors. Adding carpeting to apartments on higher floors in your apartment complex can reduce the impact noise from footsteps by up to 20 decibels. However, if you or your tenants are opposed to carpeting, then encouraging tenants in apartments with tile, vinyl, or hardwood floors to purchase a large area rug will have a similar effect. If they add a rug pad underneath, this fix will work even better. 

Encourage Tenants to Add Wall Hangings

When it comes to absorbing apartment noise, soft wall hangings like tapestries or quilts can work miracles as soundproofing materials. If your tenants don’t mind the boho look, then hanging a tapestry on the wall or even the ceiling can save them from having to hear every step their neighbor makes. If they’d prefer to avoid tapestries, then unframed posters and photos or bulletin boards can also be hung up for noise reduction. (It’s important that the wall hangings are unframed, as the glass will have the opposite effect and will end up reflecting sound rather than absorbing it.) This is a much quicker solve than reinforcing drywall, which could be a more long-term solution for noise issues down the line.

Invest in Built-In Shelving

Did you know that a bookshelf can essentially act as a sound barrier between shared walls? While tenants can certainly buy their own bookshelves, adding built-in shelving to your rental unit is one way to go the extra mile for your tenants. It’ll encourage them to put their books on display, helping to solve the noise problem before it even starts.

Reinforce the Windows

It’s possible that your tenants’ noise complaints have nothing to do with loud neighbors next door at all. If your rental units are located in a densely packed area, the city sounds can be seeping into their apartments through cracks and leaks in old windows — leading to an unpleasant amount of noise. Replacing, recaulking, or weatherstripping old windows can make a world of difference for your tenants — and, if you go for the latter two options, won’t cost much on your end at all. If tenants are still complaining about loud noises after reinforcing the windows, you can also try soundproofing window inserts, though these may be a more costly solve. Tenants may also want to consider purchasing soundproofing curtains (or any heavy curtains), which should also help absorb noise when closed.

Block Out Hallway Noise

Not all noise travels through walls or ceilings. Your tenants may be bothered by the sounds of stomping through your apartment building’s hallways. If light is traveling into a tenant’s unit under the door, then so is noise. Draft stoppers or door sweeps are easy DIY solutions, and you can purchase them from your local hardware store or an online platform like Amazon. A door seal kit can also be effective.

Set Up Quiet Hours

If all else fails, you can add a clause about quiet hours at night in new leases to prevent excessive noise and keep peace among your tenants. While some tenants may be resistant to this new rule, using your power as a property manager or owner to keep noise levels down can save you (and your renters) some headaches in the long run.

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