When we are affected by irritating noise coming from our neighbour, the first question we ask is whether there is a national law that regulates this problem. We can confirm that there is. It is Law 37/2003 on noise, but you have to consider that it only applies to certain places and venues such as leisure facilities, industrial areas and commercial venues.
Unfortunately, this national law does not cover what is known as domestic noise. Instead, it is the local councils who determine the regulations for measuring and regulating noise in communities of property owners, among other places. We must also take into account that article 7.2 of the Horizontal Property Law states that:
“The owner or occupier of the flat or venue is not permitted to carry out, in it or in the rest of the property, activities which are prohibited under the statutes, which are harmful to the property or that contravene the general provisions on activities that are classified as irritating, unhealthy, harmful, dangerous or illegal.”
This Law develops the rights and duties of the members of communities of owners. In general, local councils allow to make noise at home from Monday to Friday, from 8.00 to 21.00 or 22.00. During this time, you can play music, have parties, be moving or to have work done at home, as long as you do not exceed the maximum decibels.
At weekends or on bank holidays, the hours are reduced, and you can only make noise from 9.30 to 21.00.
Although it is not covered by the law, for reasons of good citizenship, and to avoid conflict between neighbours, ideally the rest hours, normally between 15.00 and 17.00 should also be respected.
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Problems with neighbours
What can you do when the people renting the flat upstairs constantly have large parties which stop you from sleeping? Or your next door neighbour is a trumpet player and practises around the clock on their patio? Learn about the 3 key points for solving problems of noise, parties and irritating behaviour by your neighbours.
The role of property administrator
The job of an administrator is more than just managing and administering your property, they are also responsible for mediating in any conflicts which may arise among the owners. This is why it is always important to rely on your property administrator to ensure you all live together as harmoniously as possible.
Maximum decibel level allowed
First of all there is a difference between daytime and night time. All measurements must be
taken inside the property and it is very important that the windows are shut. Moreover, each
council, depending on circumstances, can amend the following measures.
During the day: Maximum decibel level allowed is 35db.
During the night: Between 23.00 and 7.00. Up to 25db in the bedroom and 30db in the sitting room.
Works, parties and music
Works or renovations often cause an acoustic problem, hammering on walls or floors… your neighbour would definitely be happier if you were just painting the sitting room walls… According to the regulations, you can make noise due to having work done inside your house from Monday to Friday between 8.00 and 21.00. But, only on working days and when using machines only up to 20.00. You are allowed to make a maximum of 35db during the day and 30 at night. On Sundays, between 9:30 and 21:00.
Remember that although it is not regulated by the law you should respect your neighbour’s time of rest. Even if a property has sound proofing, most works may exceed the established decibel limits. Which is why it is best to take some precautions beforehand.
At Mediterráneo we offer you Miserv, a platform where you can find trusted professionals to carry out your home improvements.
Music, laughter and revelry often also give rise to complaints. This regulation also covers
activities like playing instruments, singing and dancing.
Comparison of decibels
To give you a rough idea:
– Between 10 and 30 decibels is considered to be a low noise. It is comparable to a quiet,
– From 30 to 50 decibels, the noise is still considered to be relatively low. It is comparable
to the noise made by the plumbing or some electrical items like the fridge.
– Between 50 and 75 decibels is considered to be a nuisance noise. This noise level
includes the noise of a hoover, an alarm clock or high volume on the television.
– Above 80 decibels is produced, for example, in a traffic jam.
Each municipality has its own regulations. And each development also has its own statutes
which establish a timetable that may be different to the times we have mentioned.
How do I measure the decibel level inside my house?
Although the problem of noisy neighbours can often be solved by a conversation at the time, occasionally we have to resort to other measures.
It is clear that one of the first ways of measuring the decibel level is by using your own senses. If, for example, you can hear your neighbour’s television and clearly make out the conversations, then evidently, the sound level might be exceeding the maximum decibel level allowed. If you don’t trust your senses you can use other resources like downloading mobile apps, like Deciber, which will help you to get relatively accurate, first-hand
information which you can then use to try and convince your neighbour or, as a last resort,
you can take the relevant legal measures.
It is also possible to hire a professional with a sound level meter, if you want a more precise decibel measurement. They will tell you whether the noise has exceeded the established decibel levels. Through Miserv you can find a professional who will help you to measure the decibel level in your home. Noise, parties and nuisance. How can we solve these problems?
No-one ever said that living in a community was easy. In fact, several TV series have been inspired by the problems caused at times by maintaining good relations and being good neighbours. All types of problems: music that is too loud, works carried out during rest time, putting the washing machine on at inappropriate times, footsteps, shouts, voices, the use of community facilities outside the established times… the causes of these problems are both many and difficult to tackle. Jesús Santidrián del Álamo, a lawyer and director of
the area Expansion in Madrid, gives you 3 key points for solving the problem of nuisance situations in your community of owners.
- Nicely: “In a situation like this, property administrators like us always recommend, if
it is a persistent nuisance over time (and not a one off), that firstly we talk to the person making the noise calmly and peacefully. In the majority of cases, this usually solves the problem.”
- Approach the president of your community: In situations where the problem has not been resolved voluntarily by talking to the perpetrator, you should tell the president of the Community and your property administrator about the problem. This will enable you to sound out other neighbours to find out if the problem is more widespread. “The president can present a written request which must state that if the nuisance activities do not stop immediately, then the community will take legal action to achieve this. You do not need approval of the owners meeting to send a written request.
- The Community brings an action. If the problem continues, the president may convene a property owners’ meeting and bring an action against the perpetrator or the tenant, which is known as a nuisance injunction. “This is an ordinary procedure (provided in articles 399 and following of the Civil Procedure Law). It is practical to join with other injured parties in order to have a stronger case”, advises Jesús. If the community refuses to act, you can go to court yourself, or even better, ask your home insurance to do it for you if you are covered for claims for damages. Ideally the problem will be solved amicably, rather than entering into a legal procedure whose result is uncertain, which will be long and costly and which will probably make relations between neighbours even more difficult. If you are in this position and are experiencing a difficult situation because of a neighbour, we would encourage you to talk to the person in question in order to reach an agreement or, failing that, to talk to your president or property administrator so they can mediate and help you to resolve the dispute.