Property Management and Noise Pollution

Property Management and Noise Pollution

Noise pollution is an everyday event.  Acceptable levels of noise vary as much as the type of property in question.  For purposes of this conversation we narrow the scope to garden-style multifamily property.

As more people work from home noise factors become increasingly important.  Read about Home Office Workspace.

The objective of eliminating or reducing noise is to positively impact the quiet enjoyment for your residents;  for your paying customers.  Quiet enjoyment means different things to different people.  The essence of quiet enjoyment is to minimize noise that might otherwise interfere with livability.

There are four basic types of noise pollution that can impact a property.  They are:

  • On property
  • Off property
  • Common area
  • Unit-Interior

On property. On property means anywhere "on property" from the parking lot to the leasing office.  New assets offer design features that assist in segregating noise carry.  Older assets without these design features may have parking at the front door, for example, or a unit converted to the leasing office, or trash bins between buildings.  Sometimes noise can be mitigated with new technologies by installing sound proofing or sound barriers that were not in existence when the property originally went into service.

Off property.  If you operate or own a property that is within a flight path or next to a freeway these were probably know factors at purchase.  How much impact they have on rents is market specific but more often than not rents will reflect these known factors.

Certainly, there are occasions when changes in the community come in disrupting otherwise quiet neighborhoods with their impact affecting rents, but not always negatively.  If a new transit center (train or bus station) enters a neighborhood this can be a positive based on the increased connectivity even though noise levels increase.  Mass transit access is almost always a positive even though neighborhood noise increases.  Read about Transportation Districts and Multifamily.

Common area.  Part of controlling noise in common areas is enforcement of house rules.  Another way to assure less commotion in common areas is to make sure they remain unobstructed (read: not placed into service as storage areas).  This has a two-fold purpose- meeting fire code with the ancillary benefit of less traffic/noise.

Unit interior.  All walls are "thin" when noise becomes an issue.  Including floors when folks have "heavy feet", right?  By design, most apartment properties are built to have common walls where active living spaces (such as living rooms and kitchens) are not sharing a wall with sleeping quarters. When modifications occur over time sometimes this simple built-in noise reducer is compromised.  A change in floor coverings from original carpet to hard surfaces, while perhaps cost effective, can increase noise levels significantly- such changes must be thought out in advance. Read about Carpet, Tile, Vinyl and Wood and Interior Upgrades that Create Value.

Many factors effect noise levels on property.   As the property manager you can often implement changes to make a positive impact on the four mentioned herein.

This article is intended to be informational only and does not provide legal, financial or accounting advice. See Multifamily Insight.  See video at John

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