What is excessive noise from neighbors

situation

Laws and Regulations

The Civil Code (ZGB, Art. 684) stipulates that everyone is obliged to refrain from all excessive impact on neighbors, in particular from harmful and unjustified impacts from smoke or soot, annoying vapors, noise or vibrations. As a result, everyone is asked to take the necessary measures to avoid noise.
According to the Code of Obligations (OR, Art. 257f), tenants must be considerate of residents and must not disturb the peace and quiet in the building.
Environmental Protection Act (USG) and Noise Protection Ordinance (LSV, with general formulations, at best provide information on how to deal with everyday noise. There are no limit values.
More specific information can be found in the police regulations of cities and municipalities. They set the times of the midday rest and the night's rest and regulate how to deal with frequent sources of noise. However, they usually do not determine precisely what is reasonable and what is excessive.

Authorities and judges

What are justified and tolerable noise emissions can rarely be assessed without looking at the existing exposure limit values ​​(LSV, appendices). Due to the diverse characteristics of the noise sources in this area, however, no limit values ​​can be developed that apply to all cases. Since there are neither standardized procedures nor limit values, measurements usually do not achieve the goal.
Enforcement authorities or judges must therefore judge on a case-by-case basis on the basis of their experience whether someone from the population is significantly disturbed in their well-being. In doing so, they have a fair amount of discretion.

Forbidden and allowed

Excessive noise caused by behavior that does not correspond to normal habits is prohibited. Inevitable noise from normal activities, however, is allowed.
According to current practice, important factors of noise incidents when assessing neighborhood noise are:

  • Strength
  • character
  • time
  • frequency

The significance of noise immissions does not depend on the individual disturbance and the subjective perception of the individual, but rather a representative part of the population must be taken into account - however, taking into account people with increased sensitivity.
Fighting should always start at the source. Measures on the way of propagation (sound insulation) are often set technical or economic barriers, the noise reduction at the receiver (hearing) is physiologically (low frequencies) and psychologically (isolation) problematic.

Dialogue and police

Noise problems between neighbors can be due to misunderstanding or ignorance. It is therefore always advisable to seek dialogue first in order to draw attention to noise problems. The rights and obligations of each party can be specified and suitable precautions can be taken to alleviate the problem.
This approach is not always enough to find a solution. That is why the police are tasked with preventing excessive everyday noise. In the acute case of disturbance of the peace during the day or at night, the nearest police station or the emergency number 117 can be contacted.

Administration and leverage

If the disturbance persists, the neighborhood can demand that the building management intervene. This can take steps that go up to the termination of the rental agreement if the tenant does not fulfill his obligations (OR, Art. 257f). If there is no improvement in spite of well-founded complaints, the neighbors concerned can request a rent reduction, provided certain conditions are met (OR, Art. 259d).