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Neighbor complaining about noise level. Do we have any right on this subject?


#1

I have a place that is quite new to the vacation rental market. Only one month in, we already received a letter from a neighbor complaining about my guests who shot off some fireworks sometime between 12/23 and 12/29. (They claimed it was done every single day but I doubt that.) The letter says the fireworks were fired off between 6pm and 9pm. Including on ONE particular occasion it went off at 9:45pm. They played the “fake nice card” saying they are contacting us “instead of” the county so we don’t lose our business license. They also said that they KNOW it only takes 3 complaints for us to lose our license. They claimed that there are neighbors who work 3rd shift and need to sleep during 6pm and 9pm. And that neighbors have dogs that were scared of the fireworks. They also claimed that my guests were shooting fireworks in someone else’s property - which I also don’t believe since my property is over 3 acres and we are the first property in the neighborhood, with almost no neighbors nearby. There’s just no reason for them to go to someone else’s property and there’s little likelihood of accidentally going into someone else’s property. I know that the county only has a noise ordinance for 11pm to 7am. And there’s no active HOA for the neighborhood. So I wonder the following…

  1. If they complain to the county, would the county take it seriously considering it was during holidays and much earlier than 11pm??
  2. How should I handle such a complaint/letter? What should I say? They live in the neighborhood long term and since they accused my guests for going on someone else’s property, they must have been following them (quite closely, since my property is heavily wooded and over 3 acres) and I’m guessing i need to be prepared for all kinds of other complaints coming from them as well.

Any tips would be greatly appreciated!!

Thanks for reading!


#2

Ignore the complaint; you don’t want to get into a ‘pissing contest’ with this self-righteous, do-gooder neighbor. IF you get another letter from this person, write a reply thanking him for his attention, and reminding him that what goes on, on your property is your business, and ONLY if people trespass on his property does he right to interfere with anyone.

I can’t speak for your county, since we’re not even in the same state, let alone the same county. But I’d guess the worst they’d do would be send a squad car to cruise the neighborhood.

I do think you need a NO FIREWORKS House Rule since your state (and mine) allow fireworks at certain times of the year. Many places have been so dry that a single spark can touch off a firestorm.


#3

I like your response. Georgia allows fireworks to 9pm (other than a few days a year) and I’m guessing the guests were aware and that’s why they had it between 6pm and 9pm. (other than one instance of 9:45pm which makes me question if they just misheard it?) This was during a period of heavy rainfall so fire wasn’t a concern (and the neighbor stated that in their two page letter as well) but I agree that going forward I think I will have a no fireworks rule. But I still worry about this neighbor constantly checking on my property with intentions to pick problems or complaints…


#4

I would reply to the letter, thank them for looking out for the neighborhood and tell them you are banning fireworks going forward. Win win, they feel vindicated and appreciated and you head off a battle that you will lose. I think Kens advice to ignore it is wrong.

Good luck

RR


#5

After some further research, I think I will ban fireworks for safety and making her feel like she’s winning a battle. But I’m concerned about 2 things:

  1. How can I prevent her from stalking my property and sending me more complaints? I can imagine other complaints that she can easily come up with, such as the fact that my trash can might be by the curbside for longer hours than she likes. The county just came out with a rule about keeping trash can away from curbside but my property is not occupied everyday and it’s not really feasible for me to pay someone every week to bring back the trash can. I assumed it wouldn’t be a huge issue since the rule is new and you don’t usually get in trouble until you are caught… but now it sounds like someone will probably make sure I’m caught.

  2. If, after the banning of fireworks, the guests still decide to shoot off fireworks, can she use it against me as some kind of violation since it would be against my own words? Obviously shooting off fireworks (before 9pm) is not breaking any laws. We are on a river. There was no chance of fire. And it was done responsibly (they hired a professional, which is probably why they were aware of the 9pm curfew I’m guessing).

And just to put things in perspective, we had two different group of guests during the dates she quoted, both groups were VERY good guests. They left everything very clean. So this is not a case where there was loud partying or drinking or anything of that sort. The complaint didn’t mention any noise other than fireworks.


#6

I would not worry about what she may or may not do later, just deal with what’s in front of you now. If she turns out to be a constant pain in the ass then you may have to shift tactics.

RR


#7

How can you prevent her from “stalking your property”??? Free-range Rottweilers or Dobermans…

But seriously… remind her that your property is yours and she is NOT welcome to trespass on it. Is the property fenced – 3 strands of barbed wire would keep her out and guests in. You can write off the cost on your taxes – property improvement and/or security.


#8

I’d be looking into getting some security cameras as well


#9

The property is fenced on the back, but not the front. The letter also states that they talked to my guests and told them to stop shooting fireworks. I don’t know how they talked to them, but I’m guessing they came on my property to talk to them since my driveway is forever long and it would be impossible to have a conversation from curbside to my guests who are presumably near the front door, or even back deck. I’m not sure if I like that either. If i put myself in my guests’ shoes, they paid a professional to do fireworks. They didn’t break any laws or rules. I would not be very happy if some neighbor told me to stop. The letter stated that the guest still did it. Good for them if you ask me.


#10

Yes I will definitely be installing cameras.


#11

A neighbor that hates Airbnb can be a real nuisance. I agree with River Rock’s advice to deal with one problem at a time. Since they used the “fake nice” approach, use it right back. If you get another complaint then come back and we’ll give more advice, LOL. You are also at a distinct disadvantage since you aren’t there and they are. So it’s wise to be proactive. You may indeed have to figure out something with the garbage bins for example. The cameras are a must and having ones that can see if she is trespassing on your property could be useful.

As far as the actual question of do you have rights on the topic, that’s a tough one. As a dog owner I absolutely detest fireworks in residential areas. I have a hard time supporting anyone’s right to have excessive noise of any kind at any hour unless absolutely necessary, like construction. It’s one of those “your rights end at the tip of my ears” type arguments. People move out to the country for peace and quiet; they also move to the country to not worry about barking dogs or fireworks so rights are in conflict.


#12

Speaking of dogs… I can definitely say that there’s a neighbor with a dog in the area and it keeps me up at night when I stay there (it barks all night). I have no idea who’s dog it is, but I would think that’s a more constant nuisance than fireworks during Xmas and New Year’s…


#13

Whether the host likes it or not, there are neighbours - presumably local homeowners - who for whatever reason object to fireworks being set off in the neighbourhood. Yes, it could well be that they were on the lookout for something to complain about but then lo and behold, they saw/heard the fireworks and decided that they had a legitimate complaint.

I would be furious if guests were using fireworks in one of our rentals for the reasons of noise, safety and local pets.

But this is possibly an issue that’s a lot bigger than just the firework complaint - it could be that these neighbours are being thoroughly annoyed by the STR business being on their doorstep. So I’d be inclined to be polite to them and assure them that my goal is to ensure the comfort of everyone in the locality, including guests and residents.

Kill the buggers with kindness :wink:


#14

Maybe take her at her word then. So far she has only given you a polite warning. Make a time to catch up and buy her a coffee and give her your number and tell her to call you if there is any disturbance. That way at least (a) if she does complain to the county and doesn’t ring and give you an opportunity to fix it first you may have a leg to stand on, and (b) your neighbour might just alert you to actual bad behaviour from your future guests rather than you find out after they have left and go in to find the place trashed.


#15

Absolutely. That’s what I’m saying…people move out the country so they can have dogs, then the dogs bark all night. Barking during the day is just as annoying. I wonder if the annoying neighbor complains about the dogs.


#16

Yeah I wonder too, or it could be her own dog. But if it’s not then obviously her complaints aren’t working. lol


#17

That’s the plan at this point… =D


#18

As someone who spends every NYE for 5 hours holding and comforting my dog who goes nuts every time an (illegal) firework goes off and also has another dog three doors way who occasionally wakes me up in the middle of the night barking I can say that the effect of the former on my dog is much worse than the latter is on me.


#19

On July 4th here or during thunderstorms I go in the bedroom, close all the doors and windows and put lavender in the diffuser. The HEPA air filters on high provide white noise and the pups I know are affected including my dog Elle, get CBD/Hemp oil in advance. We crawl into bed and I read, or surf the internet on a tablet. Any dog that wants can be on the bed.


#20

Just thinking about this … and wondering why the guests were using fireworks at all. Do you have a no partying rule? I’m just wondering why quiet, tidy, non-partying guests would be using fireworks - it seems a little bizarre.

Although our area quiet hours start at 10 pm (11 at weekends) guests are also told that noise that could disturb the neighbours is not allowed at any time. This is something that I have to enforce from time to time - even a loud TV can disturb some locals.


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