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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 30167
Experience:  JA Mentor
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My condo rules state that there be no nuisance or annoyance

Customer Question

Hi, my condo rules state that there be no nuisance or annoyance to other owners, including without limiting the generality of the foregoing, noise by the use of and loud speakers. Note: Earlier this year, I had Brighthouse Cable come out and install a cable outlet on the east wall (opposite wall of the duplex condo I live in). So the sound has decreased compared to when it was against the shared wall. I also got rid of the surround system that I had as well, and went with a plain sound bar and subwoofer. We have been going through the motions of learning its capabilities but the neighbor stated: "Dave Henry, please turn your stereo down. The frequency with which I can hear your music/tv has increased recently, perhaps coinciding with your purchase of a new sound bar. I'll remind you that the bylaws prohibit the ownership of such speaker systems, but until now we haven't enforced that rule too much. I hopeful we can keep it that way, but you make it difficult. Noise has been a constant issue with you throughout my time here. I had a nice conversation with Brent a few days ago and he was very reasonable and understanding of the noise issue and immediately turned the speaker/sub woofer off. I trust you, as the sole shareholder in 1203, will also act accordingly and the recent issues are just related to you becoming more familiar with your new- perhaps not permitted- speaker system. Please allow this to serve as a final written request. Since this has been a repeated and well documented issue with 1203 with complaints from multiple shareholders, I will simply be forced, and will encourage other neighbors so affected, to refer these matters to the Indianapolis police, non-emergency line." This is the first complaint of this year, he acts like it's constant all the time. Does he have a leg to stand on?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

My name is ***** ***** I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear about your situation.
Any time a person exceeds acceptable noise levels, as set by city ordinance, the neighboring homeowners can call the police. So the question, really, is what is the decibel level in his house? IS it louder than it what's allowed? There are relatively cheap electronic devices you can buy that will answer this question, and I've also seen phone apps. The first step might be to ask him to help you measure the noise - maybe it's louder than you think it is. Or if you're well within accepted ranges, that'll help you decide the next step to take. At least then you'll know if you need to look into some kind of soundproofing (or increasing insulation, if that's a factor).
Acceptable decibel levels are set out by city ordinances. Many cities have their codes online so you can check what noise levels are allowed at different times.
I don't think the definition of a "loudspeaker" would typically extend to subwoofers or a sound bar (because that's a specific term used to identify a specific object). But the HOA could theoretically fine you each and every time your neighbor complaints, even if there wasn't a history. Those fines can add up FAST. So hopefully you can find another solution.
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