10 Ordinances to Know When You Have a Nuisance Neighbor

Updated: May 04, 2023

Listen up: these 10 noise ordinances in major cities and small towns were created to protect you from those loud parties, speaker-blasting music, and construction that's been keeping you up till all hours of the night.

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Construction Has To End At Night

In most states, there are legal ordinances preventing your neighbors from conducting kitchen and bath renovations while you’re trying to sleep. Most places restrict construction noise from dinner time until breakfast. Boston, for instance bars this kind of cacophony from 6 pm to 7 am, while Miami requires construction to be silent from 6 pm to 8 am. In New York City, where construction is a constant, workers are required to mitigate noise when one or more power tools is being used out in the open. Here’s how to eliminate 23 annoying noises that come from within your own home.

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Loud Music Ends At Night, Too

If you live in Chicago, band practice has to end by 9 pm by law. The city prohibits “sound by any means” that exceeds 55 decibels in a residential unit. In a place like Los Angeles, though, your neighbors can keep the sound cranking all the way to 10 pm, at which point they’re only allowed to rock out up to 40 decibels. Anything beyond that, and you’re entitled to report them. So if there is a room in your house that you want to be loud in, here is how to soundproof that room.

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No Earth-Shaking Bass

It’s all about that bass, and if it’s coming from someone’s car and causing the ground to shake, they’re in violation of some cities’ noise ordinances. In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for instance, if you feel the vibration from within 50 feet of the source, you can report it to police. Cars that overdo it with bass noises are often referred to as “boom cars” in local noise ordinances. You can easily fix these 10 car problems, no mechanic required.

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Steam Whistles Are (Usually) Not Okay

If steamboats are keeping you up at night, you may have a case. Depending on the city, the use of steam whistles is usually limited to emergencies only. In Detroit, for instance, steam whistles are prohibited when “lying at any wharf in the city or when approaching or leaving such wharf,” and in Chicago, they can only be used “as alarm signals in case of fire, collision or other imminent danger.” Miami prohibits the emission of steam if it can’t be done without creating a disruptive noise.

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Animals Can Only Bark, Chirp and Crow Within Reason

Wondering if you can report your neighbor’s noisy pup or incessantly chirping bird? In San Diego, if your neighbor has a dog whose bark is intolerable—and you’re “a reasonable person of normal sensitiveness,” you have a leg to stand on (and if you have several neighbors who agrees, you’re in an even better position). Same goes for Buffalo, Kansas City, and Dallas, where any animal that creates a “loud and raucous noise” is considered a nuisance. Reward your own sweet, quiet dog with one of these adorable dog houses.

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Sorry, No Singing on Public Streets

The noise ordinance related to singing on the streets of Phoenix is very clear: you can’t do it. Rain or shine, particularly between the hours of 11:00 pm and 7:00 am—but really, any time you’re annoying people with it. Plenty of other cities, like Milford, MA, and Falls Church, VA, have instated the same law, which also applies to shouting. Now would be a good time to fix that noisy garage door.

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A Muffler Is a Must on Every Vehicle

In states like Arizona, Washington and New Mexico, and plenty of others, loud exhaust systems are illegal. So if your neighbor has been putting off that muffler replacement—or especially if they removed the muffler on purpose—depending on where you live, you probably have every right to complain. Here’s why you’ll buy your next car through Costco.

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Loud Beeping and Honking Are Prohibited

Cars can make plenty of unsavory noises, and horn-honking is chief among them. In most places, especially major cities like San Antonio and New York, beeping is for emergencies only. Getting impatient with a traffic jam and signaling for someone to come downstairs both do not qualify as emergencies, of course, so you’re within reason to report these. Here are our best tips and tricks for cleaning your car.

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Turning Down the TV Is a Legitimate Request

If you’re wondering whether you’re within reason to ask your neighbors to turn down their television, the answer is, in most places, yes. New York, Texas and Virginia are all places where a loud TV counts as a noise violation. Learn how to wall mount your flat panel TV.

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Loudspeakers Are Strictly Regulated

Most cities and states have ordinances that prohibit the use of sound amplification outdoors, and loudspeakers and bull horns are the major culprits. In most places, like Houston, Omaha and Atlanta, there are rules in place. Neighbors may need to get a permit, keep the noise down to a certain decibel level, or only use the devices within a certain time frame—or all of the above.

Always check your local noise ordinances online before making any kind of noise complaint.