Davis, CA asked in Real Estate Law and Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Can I sue my property management company in small claims court if they do not do anything about a noisy neighbor?

I have a loud neighbor who produces loud electronic music. I live in an apartment building and it creates quite a disturbance. I have tried talking to them, banging on the wall, calling the cops, calling the property management company, etc. but nothing has worked thus far. I have 6 reported incidents to the police—some from me some from another neighbor. No citation was given but they did talk to the neighbor about the noise. Some of these calls are after 10 PM. My property management company has sent two letter but seems hesitant to evict them or issue a more stern warning. In my lease agreement I have a peace and quiet clause. Since this is infringing on that right, I am wondering if I have a good case to sue, or threaten to sue if nothing serious is done. I just want the noise to stop and be able to enjoy my evenings free of noise. If I am to sue, what documentation or evidence would I need to support my case.

1 Lawyer Answer
Maurice Mandel II
Maurice Mandel II
Answered
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Newport Beach, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: A learned attorney and retired Judge from Texas once said: "You can sue a ham sandwich." Since your lease entitles you to the quiet enjoyment of the property and you are not disturbing others, the LL has the obligation to be sure that other tenants do not take away your quiet enjoyment. You can being an action in Small Claims for up to $10,000.00 against the LL/management company for breach of your lease and seek a reduction in the rent because this negatively impacts the rental value. An apartment next to a cemetery is a lot quieter than one next to a meat packing plant and will rent for more money. So by not enforcing the rules, the LL is diluting the value of your rental. The question is: "How do you prove it?"

First, you need to gather and organize all the actions that you have taken trying to get assistance from the LL, and the police. You should have a list of the report numbers from the polices and if you can get the copies of the reports, so much the better. But the real issue is how do you prove the rental value under these conditions? You need an expert witness who has knowledge of what apartments rent for in your local area under different conditions. I would think a realtor might be able to do that.

The best tip I can give you about small claims is that you cannot prepare too much. Be overprepared.

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