You probably didn’t move to the big city because you thought it would bring you peace and quiet. However, you also didn’t sign up to live in an apartment beneath a band of hyenas running a techno dancehall.
Seattle may be flanked by the serene tranquility of the Puget Sound and the humbling hush of the Cascade Mountains, but the city itself is teeming with life, as well as the noise that’s bound to come with it. However, there must be limits to the madness. Here are some steps you can take to resolve noise complaint issues in Seattle and regain some much-needed rest.
You may be at your wit’s end with whatever noise is going on inside, outside, or around your Seattle dwelling, but you’re going to need to get a little more information before you make any headway on the situation.
Firstly, you need to figure out where the noise is coming from. Is it your next-door neighbor who insists on watching TV at maxed-out volume in the dead of night, or is it the unbearable plowing of a jackhammer outside your window at an ungodly hour of the morning? After you’ve secured the source, you need to establish that the noise disturbance is actually unlawful, otherwise, the point is moot. In Seattle, residential noise disturbances are enforced by the Seattle Police Department and outlined on the Seattle City website. Noise regulations for construction projects are a little bit different and are implemented by the Seattle Department of Construction & Inspection. Generally, noise complaints can be made if
Using the Seattle City links above to determine what noises are deemed illegal within city ordinance, you will be able to establish if legal action can indeed be taken. If, however, it looks like the noise is in fact within regulation, all is not lost! You can still attempt to resolve the complaint by taking the following steps.
So, you’ve determined where the noise is coming from, and if it’s residential or commercial. The next step is taking a deep breath, and having a conversation.
If your complaint is in regard to construction noises, you are going to want to call the Construction & Inspections Violation Complaint Line at 206-615-0808. Make sure you have the address of the construction handy, as well as any other pertinent information, especially the time and type of infractions that you have noted.
Exceptionally for airplane noise coming in and out of SeaTac, the Port of Seattle maintains its own Noise Comment form that you can submit online or report over the phone.
If your complaint is residential, this conversation is going to entail an old fashioned knock on the door. Confrontation is never easy, but speaking face to face with your noise offender may be the best way to resolve the issue without getting the authorities involved.
It’s best not to have this conversation in the middle of the night or when you are riled up. Let those hotheaded feelings cool and wait for the next day when you can ensure that you are more polite, calm, and friendly.
When you do have the talk, let your neighbor know the specifics of the bothersome noise, how and why this affects you, and suggest a compromise to the problem. Chances are, they didn’t even know their activities were having such a negative impact on your quality of life. But, just in case, the Tenant’s Union of Washington State recommends documenting this conversation, as well as all conversations with your landlord for your records should you need them in the future.
If you have any concerns or feel uneasy confronting the noise culprit, don’t. Feeling like direct contact might put you in harm’s way? Skip this step and go right to the next.
So, you went to your neighbor, you were friendly and considerate, they agreed to turn loud music off by 10 p.m. on weeknights…but now it’s two o’clock on Wednesday morning and it sounds like Daft Punk is recording a live set in your bedroom. It’s time to contact the person in charge, which can be as easy as getting in touch with your landlord.
A landlord is more likely to wield leverage with your neighbor, so enlisting them to your aid may prove highly beneficial to your complaint. Furnished rental companies such as Blueground offer support to tenants with issues such as noise complaints. Tenants can submit a noise complaint via Blueground’s easy mobile app, where their professional Client Experience Team troubleshoots the complaint, making the process hands-off and hassle-free.
If you plan on speaking with your landlord directly, let them know about the noise, that you’ve spoken to your neighbor (here’s where that documentation comes in handy), and that nothing has changed. Ask about a tenant lease agreement–– is there anything in there that covers noise limitations? If so, they may be violating a signed document and be at risk for eviction, and therefore will have good reason to immediately lower the volume.
You’ve taken all the right steps and documented the ordeal meticulously, but it’s just not working. It’s time to take it to the last level, contacting the police. This can be done two ways:
If the police arrive and deem the situation justified, they can issue civil infractions, fines up to $500, and even up to 180 days in jail if the unreasonable noise is found to be criminal.
When contacting the police as a last resort, remember that noise complaints, especially on weekends, are not their priority. Be patient and persistent, keeping in mind that the police may not be able to respond to your complaint quickly, or at all, on your first attempt.
In extreme and severe cases that simply cannot be resolved, you may want to consider some alternatives. How attached to your space are you–both legally and emotionally? How soon is your lease up? Would it be worthwhile to look for a new home if it meant peace, quiet, and a better quality of life?
Luckily for Seattleites in this unfavorable situation, Blueground offers tastefully curated, furnished apartments in desirable neighborhoods around Seattle for stays of one month or more. Their listings can be booked online and are available immediately, making your transition to a new home quick and painless— which is a welcome, and much overdo, relief.