Dealing with Noisy Construction or Transportation

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Usually, local city ordinances restrict noise levels and schedules for construction and transportation. Tenants' primary remedy is to file a complaint with city or local government. Only in rare circumstances can tenants can break a lease if nearby construction or transportation is bothersome. First, the disruption must generally be so severe that their health is affected, such as preventing proper sleep or bone issues, and it must be prolonged. Second, tenants are expected to do some due diligence before renting, so they cannot complain about issues that they should have noticed when inspecting the property. For example, tenants cannot move next to an airport and then complain about the noise.

City Ordinances

Tenants’ easiest options are typically found in local noise ordinances. Many city and county laws prohibit construction at certain times of day, without a permit, or for prolonged periods of time. Some laws place rules on the noise effect of transportation system. Some jurisdictions require notice to tenants before beginning construction. Tenants may also gather with other tenants in the building or neighborhood to complain or petition the city if it affects a large number of people. Tenants are free to make complaints to the local housing commission about the noise, who may advise further on local ordinances.

Moving Out

Most tenants seeking to break a lease will not be able to if the sole reason is noisy construction or transportation. Tenants are generally entitled to live free of unreasonable disturbances under their entitlement to “quiet enjoyment” of their property (also known as a “private nuisance”). This doesn’t mean the apartment has to be enjoyable, nor that it has to be absolutely quiet. It means that tenants should be able to use the apartment without major, frequent disturbances (whether noise-related or not). The rule is context-specific. The standard for “quiet enjoyment” is different for a trendy New York City neighborhood than for suburban housing. It’s taken on case-by-case basis considering the totality of the circumstances, such as the frequency, severity, and unreasonableness of the disturbances. Tenants can break a lease for unexpected construction or transportation only in a few situations. First, it must be unexpected. If there’s a statement in the lease that anticipates such noise or if the possibility of such noise would be obvious with common sense, then tenants forfeit their ability to break the lease for this reason. For example, tenants moving to a building next to a subway platform cannot usually break a lease because the whole apartment shakes every 20 minutes. They should have conducted due diligence. Second, it must be severe. A tenant cannot usually break a lease if nearby construction/transportation follows local ordinances about the timing and decibel levels. It usually must affect sleep or health in some way. Although laws exist to protect a tenant’s quiet enjoyment of an apartment, in practice, tenants can rarely break a lease for that reason.

Private Nuisance

Landlords or tenants may also be able to sue the constructions for causing a private nuisance if the disturbances are substantial and unreasonable. Winners of such a case can obtain money damages or an injunction. Landlords can recover damages like lost rent, reduction in property value, and the costs to mitigate the nuisance. Tenants may be able to recover for their discomfort and annoyance.

City Ordinances


Tenants’ easiest options are typically found in local noise ordinances. Many city and county laws prohibit construction at certain times of day, without a permit, or for prolonged periods of time. Some laws place rules on the noise effect of transportation system. Some jurisdictions require notice to tenants before beginning construction. Tenants may also gather with other tenants in the building or neighborhood to complain or petition the city if it affects a large number of people. Tenants are free to make complaints to the local housing commission about the noise, who may advise further on local ordinances.

Moving Out


Most tenants seeking to break a lease will not be able to if the sole reason is noisy construction or transportation.

Tenants are generally entitled to live free of unreasonable disturbances under their entitlement to “quiet enjoyment” of their property (also known as a “private nuisance”). This doesn’t mean the apartment has to be enjoyable, nor that it has to be absolutely quiet. It means that tenants should be able to use the apartment without major, frequent disturbances (whether noise-related or not). The rule is context-specific. The standard for “quiet enjoyment” is different for a trendy New York City neighborhood than for suburban housing. It’s taken on case-by-case basis considering the totality of the circumstances, such as the frequency, severity, and unreasonableness of the disturbances.

Tenants can break a lease for unexpected construction or transportation only in a few situations. First, it must be unexpected. If there’s a statement in the lease that anticipates such noise or if the possibility of such noise would be obvious with common sense, then tenants forfeit their ability to break the lease for this reason. For example, tenants moving to a building next to a subway platform cannot usually break a lease because the whole apartment shakes every 20 minutes. They should have conducted due diligence. Second, it must be severe. A tenant cannot usually break a lease if nearby construction/transportation follows local ordinances about the timing and decibel levels. It usually must affect sleep or health in some way.

Although laws exist to protect a tenant’s quiet enjoyment of an apartment, in practice, tenants can rarely break a lease for that reason.

Private Nuisance


Landlords or tenants may also be able to sue the constructions for causing a private nuisance if the disturbances are substantial and unreasonable. Winners of such a case can obtain money damages or an injunction. Landlords can recover damages like lost rent, reduction in property value, and the costs to mitigate the nuisance. Tenants may be able to recover for their discomfort and annoyance.

Last Update : July 22, 2018 UTC

Comments discussing Noisy Construction or Transportation

almost 2 years ago
2
votes

Construction runs from like 7am to 8pm every night. And this is a fancy building, we pay a lot. But we can't sleep in, can't do anything from home. And me and my fiance both work late jobs, so we need to sleep in the day. They said construction is the lease. It's driving me nuts.
Renter in Alexandria, VA, USA
Noisy Construction or Transportation