Noise Disturbances

Let’s face it—we’ve all had those days or nights when our neighbors or roommates are making noise when we are trying to sleep or perhaps study.

It is aggravating and annoying, but hopefully, it has been a rather infrequent problem because you have been living with people who keep the same hours as you. This is one of the biggest differences between living in a community instead of in a dorm. Now the odds are that your neighbors and you do not share the same waking hours. When you and your friends are getting ready to start your evening, your neighbors are most likely getting ready for bed. You will find that the thin walls of your apartment or rowhome are no match for keeping noise in or out. You should be aware that laws pertaining to noise in a community are written to protect those who get up in the morning and go to bed in the evening, not wake up in the afternoon and go to bed in the early morning. Noise disturbances (loud music, parties, screaming, yelling and even loud talking on a porch or doorstep late at night) are by far the most common complaints made about student behavior off campus.

A Typical Scenario

Often times, students don’t realize they are making enough noise to be disruptive. Perhaps you invited a few close friends over for a small get together. Some of your friends brought a guest or two with them and others stop by as the night progresses. Soon someone turns on some music and everyone is enjoying their favorite beverage and having fun.

While you are in one section of your house, some guests might decide it is getting too hot inside and open a window or two. Someone else really, really likes the song that is playing and turns it up louder. Meanwhile, a few of your friends gather on your porch to smoke a cigarette, cool off, or make a phone call. The rest of your friends are inside yelling to each other over the music. Eventually, a guest might get tired of waiting for an available bathroom and decide to “go” outside. This is usually the time that your neighbor wakes up from all the commotion, looks outside and sees and hears everything. The next thing you know the Student/Community Liaison or the police are knocking at your door.

Reducing Noise

  • Remind your guests it is important to be as quiet as possible when they arrive at your house and when they leave.
  • Don’t allow your guests to congregate outside of your house or on your porches.
  • Keep your windows and doors closed. Try to keep the center of activity as far away from your main entrance as possible.
  • Take the time to periodically check the noise level both inside and outside of your house. If you can hear it from outside, so can others around you.
  • Stay off of the fire escapes and the roof, unless there is an emergency.

There is no magic formula for having a party at your house that will guarantee no one will be disturbed by the noise. Having a good, solid relationship with your neighbors well before you have your first party or gathering at your house can help. Take time now to meet all your neighbors. Supply them with a viable means to contact you should they ever have a concern or problem. Try to let them know well in advance if you are planning to have a group of friends over to your house. Even then, do not be surprised if someone calls the police or the university. Making a lot of noise late at night is against the law.

Remember: As the owner or leasee of your house or apartment, you can be held legally and fiscally responsible for everything that happens on your property!

For more information, please review the Baltimore City Neighborhood Nuisance law.