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I have a question which I feel a little awkward to be asking…

I have a question which...
I have a question which I feel a little awkward to be asking and yet its best to ask so that I'm better informed and understand my position a little better. I am currently residing at an apartment complex in Washington State for about 6 months now. I enjoy it. I am in a two story, four unit building in which I occupy the upper right unit. They are one bedroom units. Four months ago a young couple and their young son moved into the unit below. On a near nightly basis I began to hear screaming from the child and whooping from the father as if they were playing but very loudly. Voices to the level of yelling. Separately I would experience constant banging and impacts that would shake things on my bookcase and rattle my windows and a noisy bathroom fan that literally was being run for hours on end nonstop. One time from 8:00 am until 7:30 pm that evening. The couple also likes to have parties although this occurs maybe once or twice every couple weeks. I listened to this for several months without saying anything just telling myself that its apartment living noise and there is a child who is an innocent and to focus on making sure I was not producing excess noise. I live alone and other than a TV I have set at volume 14 which goes to 10 after 10:00 pm and showers I believe I make minimal noise. I take my shoes off at the door and carpets are pretty thick.After a period of time the tenants began to run their bathroom fan after 10:00 pm going thru midnight and sometimes later which led me to begin sleeping with ear plugs. I began to notice trash strewn on the grass in front of their deck and every other night they would leave one or more bags of trash in front of their door all night like they didn't want to walk it to the dumpster. At that point I had enough and took a couple pics of the bags and the trash in the back yard. No one else there does that. At this point the fan had begun to really grate on me. Hours of listening to this oscillation. The unit layout has the bathroom in the center of the apartment so I could hear this in both living room and bedroom. I spoke to the man once when he parked in my assigned park stall and since then they avoid contact. I knocked on their door once and no answer. Finally after one particularly bad evening I had enough and sent an email to the property management. The response was good. They claimed they understood and apologized and said they would be working to resolve it. 2 days later the tenants had a gathering that started about 11:00 pm and went until 1:30 am with the usual banging and fan running and people out on the deck smoking and yelling. I stopped by the office that next morning and was told the tenants were issued a 10 day notice. I talked a little with them and they mentioned they would contact them and request entry to have maintenance look at the fan. I thanked them and left and that's been about 6 days ago. I've had no feedback. Since then I have not seen any trash but they continue to run the fan thru midnight and last night their washing machine at 11:45 pm.I do understand that there is noise to be expected in apartment living and that noise is subjective. Some people can hear high notes, others can't kind of thing. But for me this evolved into being very disturbing. Their fan has started driving me nuts. I'm also puzzled why someone would run it with the length and frequency they do. I've had friends say there's nothing to be done about that as fans are an amenity of the apartment and part of it's fixtures and management could not restrict its usage regardless of what time which I guess also puzzles me as I would think anything that produces noise could be considered disruptive in theI'm simply wondering if this is a situation where the only option is to move when the lease is up or do I have any rights or grounds here should this continue? I feel stupid when asking about something as a bathroom fan and also concerned that I limit my complaints because I don't want to appear overly sensitive or become a "problem complainer". I just feel that what I've relayed is not reasonable. But I wanted to check on whether or not fan usage in late evening is considered reasonable disturbance or if it is something I would just have to deal with. Life is not fair but when your paying rent you should be able to have reasonable expectations. I hope I articulated this well enough. I regret asking but this has just been bothering me.Thanks for your time.
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Answered in 10 minutes by:
4/5/2018
legalgems
legalgems, Arbitrator
Category: Real Estate Law
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Hello! I will be reviewing your question and posting a response momentarily; if you have any follow up questions please respond here. Thanks!

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I'm sorry to hear this;

while there is such a thing as apartment/condo living, a tenant is still entitled to their quiet use and enjoyment of the property; this is implied in every lease.

Case discussing this warranty here

The statute even precludes a tenant from being a nuisance; please see:

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=59.18.130

Now as with most laws this will be judged by a "reasonable person" standard, so it would come down to whether a reasonable person would be disturbed.

Presumably there are quiet hours in effect - if not then the landlord may have a duty to impose them in order to ensure tenant's do have quiet use and enjoyment.

As for ceiling fans, that would need someone to observe the noise. Testimony from third parties is helpful particularly if from an unbiased professional -ie a contractor as opposed to a friend.

My experience of apartment living and ceiling fans is that I have not been able to hear noise from adjoining units' fans other than when an air conditioner kicks on/off; but not a constant noise, so there may be a defect with the fan, or perhaps the landlord can replace it with a quieter motor (I'm not familiar with electronics, just posing practical points).

So while a landlord generally can't regulate the use of fans on an hourly type basis, generally if the fan is so noisy that a reasonable person would find it to be disturbing the landlord would need to find a solution so the tenant has quiet use and enjoyment.

legalgems
legalgems, Arbitrator
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you for the quick answer. I've lived off and on in apartments for almost 40 years and cannot recall ever hearing a fan being an issue but this apartment layout has the bathroom in the center of the apartment opposite the entrance. The noise I'm hearing I believe is the motor in the floor. I do not believe the fans they use are low sones but probably sufficient enough to operate in a bathroom the size of mine as it also includes space for a combo washer/dryer. The noise is not overwhelming but is loud enough that I can hear it in bed or when I'm lying on the sofa in the living room. Its an oscillating drone that over time just began to eat at me due to constantly going. In my correspondence to the complex I did ask if replacing it would be an option and I would be willing to pay for it but was not confident they would as many places like to use the same model in each unit so as to make ease of maintenance. The handbook they issue at time of move in does mention being being courteous to your neighbors in terms of noise at all times especially after 10pm and does mention it applies to appliances such as washers/dryers, dishwashers, vacumn cleaners and such and that prompted my inquiry as to whether fans were considered appliances. I appreciate your response. I wanted to responsible myself and be certain that if should arise to press an issue that I knew where I stood. I didn't want to be 'That guy in the upper unit that keeps complaining" kind of thing. Its just been a noisy few months.

My understanding is that a ceiling fan would fall under appliances;

This should help prove that:

https://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/standards.aspx?productid=5

It states guidelines for "appliances" and then states ceiling fans.

I understand not wishing to appear as the complaining party so hopefully the landlord will take proactive measures- it would seem that replacing a ceiling fan would not be a major issue since the components of the fan are presumably the same (ie motor, fan blades, etc)

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you for your time. Its wonderful information. I appreciate it greatly.

You are most welcome; thank you kindly for the positive rating; thank you again!

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