Answered by Adam Kahn
Answer: Noise transmission issues are a source of headaches in communal living, and the Governor’s shelter in place order means that more people are stuck in their homes than before “COVID-19” became a household term. The good news is that condominium association governing documents customarily include a prohibition on noxious and offensive conduct and nuisance, including unreasonable noise transmission. What is “unreasonable” is, of course, in the eye of the beholder. If you believe your neighbor is creating unreasonably excessive noise (i.e., beyond everyday reasonable living noises), the first step is to document the noise. Check your condominium association’s rules and regulations for procedures for handling noise complaints and confirm whether your association has a specific complaint form.
Normally, a best practice is to have a third party (staff or a neighbor) verify the noise issue for corroboration (to help the condo board determine whether the noise rises to the objective nuisance standard), however, having someone in your home may not be the safest thing to do right now. Complaints should be submitted to management (if any) or the condo board, and the board will determine the appropriate next steps, which may include issuing a violation notice and holding a fine hearing. Depending on your relationship with your neighbor, you may want to tactfully raise the issue directly with them; however, self-help measures like banging on the ceiling are generally not recommended and may exacerbate the situation. Keep in mind that a reasonable level of noise transmission is to be expected in communal living.
Unfortunately, there may not be an easy solution to this problem while we are all sheltering in place. Patience (and a good pair of noise cancelling headphones) is a virtue.