Clean & Quiet

Do your owners and residents have a challenge keeping things neat, fume-free, clean and quiet?

The internet is awash with questions about how to deal with hoarding, unsanitary conditions, smoking and nuisances.  Your state statutes might offer little to no specific direction, but most multi-family common interest communities (typically condominiums and co-ops) include language in their declaration / CC&Rs related to cleanliness and quiet enjoyment.   The location of that restrictive language in a dedicatory instrument is critical because it sets certain limits on the use of units which is otherwise not possible in a set of rules by itself.

The realities of enforcing actions related to the interior of a multi-family dwelling can be challenging to say the least, especially if the person(s) residing there are uninterested in allowing access.  The International OCD Foundation has resources that can help.  Some municipalities also offer situation-specific guidance for hoarding (see's Help for People who Hoard) and additional resources like Age Friendly Seattle that may be relevant.

Ongoing and/or recurring noise, vibration and odors are also a frequent source of angst in multi-family residential properties.  Putting an end to the noise and odors can take a frustratingly long time (see specific procedures in our example Rules & Regulations).  Enforcement authority generally centers on a nuisance provision in your governing documents.  Smoking references here and here.  Virginia condominium and HOA statutes specifically allow for a Board to establish rules related to smoking except to the extent provided by the declaration / CC&Rs.  

There's a lot to learn about what's in your Declaration / CC&Rs and bylaws.  Check out Ideas for your Declaration: Language to Live By.

Live in Ontario, Canada?   The Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) has you covered.

Ontario Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) Helps Resolve Nuisance Concerns

Ontario Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT) Helps Resolve Nuisance Concerns

Hard Surface Flooring

Multi-family properties are classified as Group-R.  There are multiple acoustical terminologies and standards.



Example Declaration / CC&R Language

Owner Responsibility Each Unit Owner shall, at their sole expense, have the right and the duty to keep the interior of their Unit and its equipment, appliances, and appurtenances in good order, condition and repair and in a clean and sanitary condition, and shall do all redecorating, painting, and finishing which may at any time be necessary to maintain the good appearance and condition of their Unit.

Nuisances  No noxious or undesirable thing, nor noxious or undesirable use, shall be permitted or maintained in any Unit or in any other portion of the Property. No Person shall cause any unreasonably loud noise anywhere in the Property. If the Board of Directors determines that a thing or use is undesirable or noxious, or that a noise is unreasonably loud, that determination shall be conclusive.

Quiet Enjoyment  No Unit Owner, Residential User or Commercial User shall permit anything to be done or kept within any Unit or Common Element (including the Limited Common Elements) which will induce, breed or harbor infectious diseases, noxious insects or vermin and/or which may be or become an annoyance or nuisance and/or interfere with the quiet enjoyment of other residents. Examples include, but are not limited to the production of fumes, vapors and odors, ongoing noise, the introduction of recurring vibrations through Unit floors, walls, ceilings, and any actions or conditions that violate any applicable governmental mandate.

In recognition of the mixed-use nature of the Condominium, the foregoing restrictions shall not prohibit time-limited odors, sounds and vibration which may be generated during the course of alterations, required maintenance, repair and replacement activities, cooking odors, and similar unavoidable occurrences; however, all actions must be conducted to reasonably minimize impacts to other residents.

Offensive Activity The Board ultimately determines whether an activity is offensive under the terms of the Governing Documents. In making such a determination, the Board must rely on objective information, and make adequate inquiry to establish if the activity is unreasonable or offensive to a reasonable person, given the circumstances involved, and in consideration that in the Condominium is a multi-family housing community. 

Trade or Business Use of Residential Units  No Trade or Business of any kind may be conducted in or from any Residential Unit, except that an Owner or Occupant may conduct a Business activity within the Unit only if: