All tenants have an implied right to quiet enjoyment of their property and a right to personal privacy. Excessive noise from other tenants can interfere with a tenant's right to privacy and quiet enjoyment. Nuisance and noise laws are governed by state and local regulations. In California, the California State Government Coda, local ordinances and lease laws determine a tenant's right to peaceful enjoyment.
California State Government Code
The California Legislature enacted the California State Government Code Section 65302 or the "California Noise Control Act." The Noise Control Act is part of the California Health and Safety Code. In passing the noise control legislation, the California Legislature acknowledged that excessive noise is detrimental to public health and welfare and can cause economic, mental and physical harm. The fundamental rights of all Californians include the right to peaceful and quiet enjoyment of their property without being exposed to excessive noise.
Office of Noise Control
The California Office of Noise Control is responsible for enforcing the Noise Control Act. The office participates with local California government agencies and the California Attorney General to enact ordinances governing noise abatement. The noise abatement laws vary by county and city. Each county and city government is responsible for ensuring its local residents comply with the statewide "California Land Use Compatibility Noise Guidelines." Under the California Noise Guidelines, the state categorizes permissible noise levels by decibel levels. The Noise Guidelines categorize permissible noise levels as "normally acceptable," "conditionally acceptable," "normally unacceptable," and "clearly unacceptable."
A tenant's right to quiet and peaceful enjoyment of his property is generally limited to reasonable limits, and local government ordinances regulate nuisance rights. In other words, if a tenant is making excessive noise beyond what is "normally acceptable" under the Noise Guidelines, then she most likely violates the city's nuisance ordinance. In Glendora, for instance, a tenant's noise level is restricted by the time of day. From 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., a tenant cannot make noise exceeding 50 decibels, and any noise in excess of 50 decibels is considered a nuisance.
To enforce their rights to peaceful enjoyment against noisy neighbors, tenants must notify their landlords of the excessive noise. Tenants can contact local law enforcement and notify their landlords after contacting the local authorities. At this point, landlords have an affirmative legal responsibility to ensure their noisy tenants do not continue violating the local nuisance regulations or interfere with their other tenants' right to peaceful enjoyment. If a landlord does not correct the violation, a tenant may have a right to terminate her lease after providing written notice of termination.
Since state laws can frequently change, do not use this information as a substitute for legal advice. Seek advice through an attorney licensed to practice law in your state.
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