Noise complaints – a guide for condominium managers

Condominium soundproofing complaints

When addressing a noise complaint by condominium residents, property and condominium managers should follow these steps:


Determine the source of the noise complaint

  • The property manager can ask the complainant to describe the noise.
  • Review any recordings of the noise made by the complaining party.
  • Conduct an on-site investigation by management.
  • Engage an acoustic consultant.

Condominium residents can complain about many potential noise sources. Some reasons for noise complaints are listed here, but there are many more.

  • Noise caused by neighbors (loud music, shouting, stomping, etc.)
  • Mechanical noise and vibration
  • Elevator noise.
  • Garbage chute and garbage compactor noise.
  • Noise from the building's gym.
  • Annoying low-level hum, buzz, or vibration.
  • Other reasons.

Sometimes the property manager easily identifies the noise source, but often it is more complicated.  The only sure way of confirming that mechanical equipment is the source of the noise is by turning it off and on and listening for the absence or presence of the noise. Usually, the property manager or an acoustical engineer can do this troubleshooting.

Determine the noise path

There are two possibilities for how the noise is transmitted from a source to the complainant:

Airborne noise path

Residents often complain about the music and speech that can be heard through partitions. Again, airborne-noise paths usually cause this.  Also, noise caused by children disturbing other residents is a common source of complaints.  Again, this noise is most commonly airborne, but it can also be structure-borne or both. 

Structure-borne noise path

Stumping, furniture shuffling, dropped objects, mechanical noise, and construction noise are the types of noises usually transmitted by building structures, sometimes to locations distant from the noise source. Mechanical equipment noise is often structure-borne, but it could also be airborne.

Mitigation of the noise complaint and soundproofing

How to address and mitigate the noise depends on the cause of the noise and the mode of noise transmission. Property managers must understand the way of the noise transmission before undertaking mitigation.  The solution is often not obvious, and sometimes it is counterintuitive.  An acoustic engineer is best qualified to identify the noise source and recommend remediation steps or soundproofing.

Here are a few examples of actual noise investigation case studies and descriptions of condo noise problems:

Legal aspects of condominium noise complaints

This article is written from a perspective of an acoustic engineer. Unfortunately, many noise situations are not easily solvable, and the legal onus is on the landlord or property manager to deal with them.  Here is a legal explanation.

For a complete treatment of the legal issues, check with the Condominium Authority of Ontario or contact a lawyer specializing in condominium law.

In legally contested situations, the courts demand that the property management engages an acoustic engineer to document the problem and provide recommendations for resolving it.

Suppose your issue is complicated and requires the professional advice of an acoustic engineer. Then, click the button below to request a no-obligation quote.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to use the form below to submit them to the author.

About the Author Ivan Koval

The author is the publisher of the Soundproofing.Expert website. He is a soundproofing and building acoustics consultant working in Toronto and GTA, Ontario, Canada. Telephone (416) 471-2130

follow me on: