What can I do in order to win my court case with my landlord about noise complaints?

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What can I do in order to win my court case with my landlord about noise complaints?

This morning I got handed a subpoena by the maintenance man at my apartment, saying I needed to appear in court next week for breaking the lease agreement for excessive noise. Apparently, our neighbors have been calling and complaining about the noise. There was one incident where the police did show up to our apartment, but told us “to keep doing what we were doing.” and everything is fine. I just want to know if there is a way that I can win this case without being evicted.

Asked on April 13, 2012 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

First, if the issue is alleged lease violations, than you most likely need to be provided first with a "notice to cease," or an official warning to stop doing what you were doing, before an eviction action could be initiated against you. If you did not receive one, it may be that you could get the case dismissed for failure to first provide you proper notice. So bring any docmentation relating to notices you received--or did not receive--from the landlord and be prepared to bring up that issue.

Second, if the lease does not contain some provision relating to excessive noice or disturbing the right to peaceful enjoyment of other tenants, there may be no grounds to evict you for noise unless it was truly excessive. (Even without a lease provision in this regard, there are levels of disturbance which would justify eviction under the general law relating to other tenant's right to quiet enjoyment). So analyze your lease and see what your obligations truly were.

Third, as a general matter, the mere fact that someone else complained does not make what you were doing wrongful--it must have have too loud or disturbing by the standards of the average reasonable person. If your neighbors are hypersenstive about noise, that is their problem, not yours. So be prepared with testimony (yours and other witnesses--possibly those police officers you mention) about the true extent or level of noise.

And the single best thing you could do to help yourself--get a lawyer. With your home/residence at stake, you want a professional's help. If you can't afford an attorney, try contacting Legal Services.


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