Gather Adequate Proof for Noisy Resident's Eviction Proceeding
One of the most common complaints among households is loud and disruptive neighbors. Unreasonable disturbances of other households with noise from loud music, fighting, and partying are common lease violations.
If you’re aware of the disturbance while it’s occurring, a verbal request should be made immediately to stop the disturbance. If it continues, it’s normally appropriate to call the police. You should also give the tenant a written notice of the disturbance with a request that it not be repeated. The notice should summarize what the problem was and tell the tenant not to disturb the neighbors again.
Sooner or later, if asking the noisy resident to stop doesn’t work, you may have to start eviction proceedings. It’s that, or risk the continuing anger of other households at your site.
Most leases contain a provision permitting termination where a household is committing or permitting a “nuisance.” By definition, a “nuisance” is something that interferes with someone’s enjoyment of her own property. This includes a household’s leasehold interest in an apartment.
However, evicting a noisy resident can be difficult because it’s tough to prove a noise nuisance. Here are some tips to help gather adequate proof of a noisy household’s actions.
Use Decibel Meter and Video Recorder
With the proper tools, you’ll make it hard for a noisy resident to deny wrongdoing, especially if you play a recording in court. But merely playing a sound recording in court isn’t sufficient. You need to show that the recorder you used is a reliable representation of what occurred.
To accomplish this, Florida attorney John McMillan recommends that you use a decibel meter to measure the noise as it is captured because it’s easy to manipulate a recorder to make a noise sound louder than it is. Certain microphones can pick up small noises and amplify them. Another recommendation is to use a video recorder to document the levels on the decibel meter.
You should talk to your attorney before building an eviction case. Some states may not consider recordings as acceptable evidence even if precautions are taken. A judge might discount the sound from a video recording as manipulating the sounds.
Retain Third-Party Witness
To help bolster your case, use third parties as witnesses. When video recording the decibel meter, have the complaining resident bring in another person to witness the taping. The witness should be prepared to testify about how the tape was made. The witness should also be present in the unit when the disturbance occurs. This way, the witness can swear that the sound on the tape accurately reflects what he or she heard in the unit.
Use Complaint Form to Encourage Testimony
The corroboration of other households at the site provides another source of evidence. In an eviction proceeding, the owner needs to demonstrate to the court that the noisy household’s conduct is serious enough that a failure to evict will cause the owner or other households to live under unacceptable and unreasonable conditions.
In making the case, sometimes an owner will try to evict a resident for creating a nuisance, but the only person who comes to court to testify is the owner who doesn’t live in the building. If this happens, the owner’s testimony won’t be accepted, because the owner can’t testify that other people in the building are annoyed. This is known as hearsay.
Usually, the owner has to bring as a witness at least one resident who will testify that the nuisance-maker is interfering with his ability to enjoy his unit. But winning an eviction proceeding is difficult when the complaining neighbor who pushes for an eviction doesn’t want to get involved when the case goes to court. Many neighbors are reluctant to take a stand in court against a noisy resident—even when they have been lobbying the owner or manager to get rid of that resident.
One way to get these people to cooperate is to psychologically prepare them to testify from the day they first complain. You can do that by requiring residents to register noise complaints on a written form that says they agree to be called as witnesses if the case goes to court. You can use our Model Form: Use Noise Complaint Form to Get Witness’s Cooperation.
People are usually most enraged and determined to challenge a noisy resident when they complain to you. Sensing this, you might want to consider using a resident complaint form. Irate residents write down the details of their complaint and agree to be a witness if there’s a lawsuit.
Residents are more likely to testify once they sign the form. The forms are valuable in court even if complaining residents back off from testifying. Aside from police reports of disturbances, which serve as great evidence, the complaint form is another written record of the noise and disturbance created by the resident you’re trying to evict.
Best of all, the resident complaint form discourages neighbors from lodging frivolous complaints. People will sign the form only when they’re very upset and determined to follow through.
John E. McMillan, Esq.: Attorney at Law; 5309 E. Bush Blvd., Temple Terrace, FL 33617; www.johnemcmillan.com.
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Use Noise Complaint Form to Get Witness's Cooperation|