Topic No. 258: Noise Problems
Landlords should be notified when there is a substantial noise problem so that the matter can be investigated. If the landlord fails to investigate the noise problem or take appropriate action, the tenant may file a Tenant Petition at the Rent Board for a rent reduction based on a substantial decrease in housing services. Evidence concerning the nature and extent of the problem, the landlord's response, if any, and the effect on the tenant are relevant factors the Rent Board will consider in determining whether the landlord reasonably responded to the noise complaint.
Many complaints about noise, however, fall within the realm of normal apartment living for which no rent reduction is warranted. In addition, construction noise normally is not grounds for a rent reduction where it is caused by the landlord's performance of reasonably necessary repair and maintenance work during normal working hours and does not substantially interfere with the use of the premises as a residence.
Problems with noisy neighbors can be difficult to resolve and the standard for what constitutes excessive noise may be highly subjective. For example, volume levels for stereos or televisions that are within the legal noise limits may still seem excessive to some individuals. Dispute resolution services can sometimes be helpful in resolving such noise problems.
To receive a copy of the Tenant Petition form, you can fax it to yourself through our Fax Back system by calling 252-4660 or visit our website at www.sfgov.org/rentboard. The form is also available at our office.