Shhh… Keep the Noise Down!


shhh-carouselMaybe you remember being told that by a parent, grandparent or guardian.  Perhaps you are now saying that to a roommate or neighbor in the same dormitory or housing unit.  When you are trying to study or rest it doesn’t matter if Future, The Chainsmokers or Beyoncé are playing through the speakers, you just want it to stop.

Whether it’s loud music, socializing or a party, loud noise can be an issue for people living in close quarters like dormitories, apartment buildings and row homes.  Unfortunately, noisy neighbors aren’t an uncommon issue and we are sure they are saying the same thing about you. Did you know that a person, including a registered college student, could be arrested for making too much noise?

It is the lawful responsibility of the landlord and tenant to ensure that noise ordinances are being followed and adhered to.  According to the Secretary of the District of Columbia within the Office of Documents and Administrative Issuances and Rule 20-2701, no person shall cause, suffer or permit any sound that emanates from an operation, activity or noise source under his or her control to exceed the maximum permissible sound level established in the following table as applicable for the time of day or night and the zoning location where the noise originates.


According to Rule 2701.2, the sound level shall be measured at the property line of the property on which the noise source is located, or as close as is practicable if there is an obstruction.

It is public policy of the District that every person is entitled to ambient noise levels that are not detrimental to life, health and enjoyment of his or her property.  It is hereby declared that excessive or unnecessary noises within the District are a menace to the welfare and prosperity of the residents and businesses of the District.  It is the declared public policy of the District to reduce the ambient noise level in the District to promote public health, safety, welfare and the peace and quiet of the inhabitants of the District, and to facilitate the enjoyment of the natural attraction of the District (DCMR 20, Sec. 2700.1).

To help protect residents from noise, agencies like DCRA zone certain neighborhoods as commercial and others as private.  A business inside a commercially zoned area would be expected to have a high amount of traffic as well as added noise pollution particularly as compared to a zone for residential homeowners.  DCRA is one of several agencies which enforce regulations regarding noise.  We enforce noise specifically dealing with sanitation trucks and all construction within city limits.  To report illegal construction including noise complaints, call DCRA’s Illegal Construction Unit, at (202) 442-STOP (7867) or call 311 during non-business hours to be routed to an on-duty inspector. The city’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) deals with the bulk of noise complaints in public space.  The Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration (ABRA) handles noise complaints at establishments licensed by the agency. Review a compilation of the District’s noise regulations and standards in the Noise Regulations Handbook.

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