Dear Consumer Ed:
I live on top of the fitness center in an apartment complex. The machines are extremely loud, and my apartment shakes when they are in use. When I moved in, the fitness center hours were 9am to 10pm. This allowed for some quiet time. Recently, a new manager was hired who changed the gym hours to 6am to midnight. The extreme noise and vibration now last 18 hours a day. Can an apartment complex do this? My lease states that all residents are to adhere to reasonable quiet time between 10pm-9am, but the gym hours are not mentioned. We no longer enjoy living here. The property manager will not return my call. What can I do?
Consumer Ed says:
You’re likely protected by the terms of your lease. The agreement created between the landlord and tenant provides with it a right to possess and enjoy the property. In Georgia, the lease determines what is and is not allowed, and both parties are bound by its terms. Because your lease specifies a reasonable quiet time, which applies to all residents, not only must you as a tenant maintain that quiet time, but the property manager has the duty to make sure other residents do as well, especially when the gym is a common area under the property manager’s control.
You generally have the right to be free from disruption, inconvenience, and damage caused by other tenants under the landlord’s control, especially for conduct occurring in common areas of the property, such as the gym. You also have the added benefit of the quiet hours provided in your lease.
You made the right first step in contacting the manager to report the problem; however, if your property manager refuses to address the problem, you may have other options available to you. First, continue to try to make contact with the property manager, preferably in writing, and keep documentation of your attempts. If the property manager is merely the manager and not the true owner, you should try contacting the landlord or property owner to resolve the dispute. If the problem persists, and the landlord refuses to act within a reasonable time, you can ask to be released from your lease, or transferred to another unit, on the grounds that the landlord has broken his terms of the lease.
Before you decide to take any action, take another look at your lease and see if it allows for any changes or modifications to be made. Unless the lease allows for the landlord/property manager to make changes to the gym and quiet time hours, the manager must adhere to the existing lease terms and make efforts to ensure a reasonable quiet time between the hours of 10pm and 9am. Even if the landlord can make changes to this policy, it’s unlikely that he would be able to do so without at least some notice to the tenants.
If you cannot get in contact with the property manager or landlord, you should consider pursuing action against your landlord in a local small claims court and/or hiring an attorney.
If you cannot bear your living situation, be aware that your ability to get out of your lease still depends on its written terms. This means that even if you break your lease and move out, you may still be responsible for paying rent on the remaining lease, and could even be subject to an early termination fee (if that is what your lease states).
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