Condo Strategies for dealing with Noise Complaints


Noise disputes among condo owners can be one of the most troublesome problems for Board of Directors and Property Managers.  Not only can they be expensive to resolve, they cause unrest and bad feelings.  However, if the BOD's acts quickly and assertively, it may be able to improve the current situation and keep the corporation out of court.

Noise issues often involve an owner's complaint of noise coming from the unit above.  This is typically due to improperly installed flooring, or lack of a proper sound control product installed underneath the floor.  It's typical to see the same set of facts repeatedly.  A new unit owner decides to replace the existing flooring and opted for installing hardwood or laminate flooring.  The typical complaints are owners can hear furniture moving, footsteps, kids running or objects dropping.  Once the manager is aware of the noise problem, is when a complaint is made by the owner of the unit below to the owner of the unit above.

Far to often, flooring contractors and owners will go out and purchase an inexpensive product claiming to have a rating of IIC 70 or higher.  Upon quick review its easily determined these products are in fact bogus and nowhere near the advertised sound rating.  Simply put, these products were all tested with a concrete slab along with a built ceiling assembly or suspended ceiling attached to it.

FACT:  99.9% of Condominiums in the GTA do not have suspended ceiling's, they are typically built of 8" concrete slabs alone.  By adding a ceiling during testing (often filled with insulation) dramatically increases the impact sound rating of the product.  Realistically these products barely meet a rating of IIC 55, which is a far cry from the advertised IIC 70 considered to be virtually soundproof by todays standards.

Its estimated decision makers of properties approve over 20, 000,000 square feet of these bogus products every year.  Is there really any question to why noise complaints are skyrocketing?

"Listen, if you didn't know you were being scammed, you're too dumb to keep this job.  If you did know you were in on it.  Either way, you're out!"
~ Sam (Ace) Rothstein, Casino

Here are a few provisions you may want to have added to your property's provisions.

The first one prohibits hard-surface floors unless approved by the property manager and board of directors.  Any change must provide sound insulation of RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70(Field Tested over 8" Concrete Slab, without a ceiling assembly)

1. Floor Coverings
No change in the floor covering materials as originally installed in the units shall be permitted except with the consent of the property management and board of directors.  To reduce sound transmission between units, all units shall have a minimum sound control product installed under the wood or laminate floor RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70.

2. Sound Transmission
No unit shall be altered in any manner that would increase sound transmission to any adjoining or other Unit, including, but not limited to, the replacement or modification of any flooring or floor covering or the penetration of any wall, floor or ceiling that increases sound transmission to any other Unit.

3. Floors
All changes to floors separating Units (Hardwood, laminate, tile and stone) must provide FIIC 70 sound control properties for impact sound insulation.  In addition, the product's floor/ ceiling assemblies must satisfy the sound control requirements as per the properties building structure. i.e. Only 8" concrete slab.

The impact sound insulation rating of the floor ceiling assemblies after insulation must be Field Impact Insulation Class RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70 or higher.

Setting conditions of approval of a flooring change.

The corporation through property management should impose conditions on this approval.  For example, it could require the owner replacing the floor covering provide evidence of RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70 by means of specification sheet and testing documents.  Furthermore, proof of purchase in the form of an invoice is often requested by the PM prior to final approval is provided.

Where the "standard" is met, but noise could still be objectionable, the board should reserve the right to require owners to use area rugs or runners to mitigate the sound transmission.

The fact is, noise issues are subjective and no two owners will perceive them alike.

Do you have a noise complaint story to share? Let us know in the comments below, and you could get 10% off your next RHINO Sound Control order!

8 thoughts on “Condo Strategies for dealing with Noise Complaints”

  1. Thanks for the great information, very helpful. I have been installing underlay products claiming to be IIC 70 – 78 in all of my condo projects. I am dealing with 3 noise complaint problems 1 year after we completed the project’s and now the management, board of directors and lawyers are involved. We provided a sample of the underlay to the management office prior to installation and they approved it. The building requires a rating of IIC 72 to be installed under flooring. Until now, I was not aware these products were tested with ceiling assemblies, because in the buildings we installed flooring, they do not have ceiling assemblies, but only 8″ concrete slabs. What should I do and where does that leave me?

    1. Hi Rui, Thanks for your comment and you are not alone in this predicament. I can not speak to the particulars of your case, but we have seen an unprecedented increase in noise complaints and lawsuits for the same reason over and over again. These bogus products are the route cause in conjunction with a lack of education from contractors, property managers and board of directors. Moving forward I would recommend staying away from products claiming IIC 70 or higher that were tested with ceiling assemblies for your condo projects. They are OK for basement flooring projects in a home, used as underlays, but should not be considered sound attenuation products in condo’s – they offer virtually no sound control whatsoever.
      We do sell a variety of sound attenuation products, feel free to contact us for your next project

  2. We are proactive about noise complaints and sound management, we know if we don’t recommend a good product noise complaints will increase. When we reached out to the The Floor Studio Inc., they recommended RHINO Sound Control FIIC 70, we took a huge leap forward knowing it has been field tested by an accredited independent organization without a suspended ceiling.

    In total, since we started our RHINO program in 2016, over 50,000 square feet has been installed in our property with zero noise complaints.

    Susan, Property Manager, RCM
    Toronto, Ontario

    1. The Floor Studio

      Hi Susan, It’s great to hear you are having a positive experience with RHINO Sound Control. In addition to its sound control properties RHINO Sound Control also boasts the following features and benefits;
      • Greatly reduces impact sound
      • Guaranteed to work with radiant heated floors
      • Does not collapse over time therefore retains its acoustical value
      • Conceals minor subfloor irregularities
      • Resists mold, mildew and fungus growth
      • Enhances underfoot comfort
      • Lays flat and does not move during installation

  3. Christian Property Manager

    One of my concerns as a condominium manager is the soundproofing for various flooring options. Approximately 10 years ago, I had the chance of meeting Steve from the floor studio who has educated me on various soundproofing products in the market today. In fact, we has presented at our manager meeting (approximately 160) on sound proofing products.

    One of the best, if not the best product currently available for condominium owners is the RHINO with an FIIC 70. According to my experience and knowledge , many condominiums have adopted this product as their benchmark for sound control. The floor studio has always been helpful and has provided excellent customer service and professionalism to our condominium owners.

    It is without hesitaton that I would vouch for Steve as an honest and dedicated entrepreneur.

    1. The Floor Studio

      Thank you for that great review. It takes individuals and decision makers like yourself to lend an ear to the systemic problem facing managers and their board’s when it comes to noise complaints arising from people walking, moving furniture or dropping items.

      It’s a fact the vast majority (99%) of underlays, are just that, underlays! They offer virtually no sound attenuation properties and are usually well below the recommended building code of IIC 55 when it comes to impact sound transfer.

      Thank you for giving me the opportunity

  4. Stan, Board President

    Recently TSCC 1663 had the opportunity and pleasure to work with The Floor Studio at our property.
    The Floor Studio not only provided us with a variety of options, they also took the time to listen to our concerns and provided us with a more durable flooring system that would benefit the Corporation and residents much more compared to what was previously installed.

    The Floor Studio looked after this entire process from start to finish. I am pleased to say that The Floor Studio surpassed all our expectation.s They delivered more than what they promised and guaranteed.

    I am more then happy to recommend The Floor Studio for any flooring needs you may have.

    Stan, Board President

    1. The Floor Studio

      Thank you very much for the generous review. It was a pleasure to meet, discuss and find a solution for your noise complaint issue’s.

      The Floor Studio Team

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