Rodkin on How to Sell a Condo Unit with a Noise Problem

Readers ask questions, and our real estate expert answers. This week, a reader named Stephanie from South Loop asks for advice on how to reduce the noise coming from her upstairs neighbor’s apartment now that she wants to sell.

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2 years ago
Posted by SeeMore

The answer by Dennis overlooks the obvious: Read the CC&R's to see if there is a provision to prevent noise transmission:

CC&R provisions relating to noise transmission. Here are four typical provisions found in community association governing documents. The first one prohibits hard-surface floors unless approved by the Architectural Control Committee and any change must provide sound insulation equivalent to the original carpet and padding.

1. Floor Coverings: No change in the floor covering materials as originally installed in the Units by Declarant shall be permitted except with the consent of the Architectural Control Committee. To reduce sound transmission between Units, all Units shall have all floor areas except entries, kitchens and bathrooms covered with carpet or other material which provides equivalent insulation against sound transmission. Flooring in bathrooms shall be acoustical cushioned linoleum as originally installed by Declarant, or material with the same or better acoustical quality and rating.

The second example prohibits any change in floor covering that would increase noise:

2. Sound Transmission. No Unit shall be altered in any manner that would increase sound transmission to any adjoining or other Unit, including, but not limited to, the replacement or modification of any flooring or floor covering or the penetration of any wall, floor or ceiling that increases sound transmissions to any other Unit.

This last example sets objective noise transmission standards that must be met by any floor covering change:

3. Floors. All changes to floors separating Units (tile, hardwood, stone, carpet, etc.) must provide code-compliant sound control properties for airborne and impact sound insulation. In addition, the floor/ceiling assemblies must satisfy the higher sound control requirements established for the Project as set forth herein. The impact sound insulation rating of the floor ceiling assemblies after installation must be Field Impact Insulation Class (FIlC) 50 or higher. Airborne sound insulation rating thereof must be Noise Isolation Class (NIC) 52 or higher.

If a flooring change is subject to architectural control, nuisance regulations, outright prohibitions, or objective standards, the association will usually be brought into the dispute.

2 years ago
Posted by Dennis Rodkin

Thanks for lending your expertise, See More. These are helpful.

2 years ago
Posted by Catherine R.

Have you talked to the occupants of the upstairs unit? They may not be aware of the noise issue. Polite, respectful conversation could result in an agreement not to wear shoes in their home, to keep tv noise down 5-8pm, or other sensible cooperative solutions.

2 years ago
Posted by MarleneKG

Trying to cover noise is basically dishonest. I understand that one wants to sell their unit but I would be very disturbed by overhead noise, especially if it is deliberately masked and discovered later, since I can't stand overhead noise. I had such a problem. I tried putting additional insulation in the ceiling in my bedroom but it just wasn't sufficient. My neighbors were not very cooperative about noise reduction from TV, heavy walking and loud talking, and, in fact, became louder once they knew it was disturbing to me.... and I had been very polite when I discussed it with them. The best policy, be honest, if someone inquires about noise above. It may not be an issue with some people and those are the ones you would be better off attracting as buyers. Besides, the upstairs people may be quite, you can sell and then they move away and noisy ones may move in to replace them. Just be up front: You can't guarantee it will be silent above you. If it's an issue, do what I did:
MOVE AWAY and don't buy a place with anyone above you.

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