Original Article: 【事実確認は必須】賃貸物件に関する騒音問題と立ち退き請求について
In the case of rental apartments and condominiums, noise complaints from neighboring units are common.
Although this is not true for all properties, compared to condominiums for sale, rental properties are often less soundproofed, and even if the noise is not extremely loud, it can still be heard from the next unit or the floor above.
Building performance is generally proportional to the unit price for construction, thus this does not apply to all buildings, but it is inevitable that the soundproofing performance of rental properties, which are built as inexpensively as possible, is low.
Regardless of the building’s performance, when living in a housing complex, tenants are expected to have appropriate morals.
Since it is communal living, basic principles regarding harmony with other residents, use of common spaces, noise, garbage disposal, etc. must be observed.
One of the reasons why many people give priority to find a condominium for rent when they are on a budget is that there is a difference in the morals and manners of the residents.
Noise problems occur regardless of whether the property is for sale or for rent, but it is not surprising that there is a gap between the manners and morals of those who own a condominium and those who live in a rental apartment, whereas those who own a property and may live there for a lifetime are aware that it is only a temporary residence.
Those who have actually experienced receiving complaints will understand.
Noise complaints regarding rentals should normally be directed to the management company or the rental owner.
However, in reality, the mediator who mediated the contract may be contacted in many cases.
In such cases, you should contact the management company and urge them to resolve the issue, but depending on the other party, they may not always deal with the issue immediately. Some rental owners even say, “If you are living in a house, you are bound to hear a little noise.”
Although it is a sad position for an intermediary agent to be caught between the boards without the authority and responsibility to intervene directly, do you know about the method of legally evicting the resident who generates noise?
In this issue, we will explain the obligations of lessors regarding such nuisances and contract cancellation.
If the management company does not respond, the mediator is contacted.
As you know, a reasonable cause is required for eviction.
If the tenant has been in delinquent in rent for several months, it is relatively easy to terminate the contract because “breach of trust” will be applied.
However, if the problem is caused by the resident’s manners such as noise, the hurdle is a little higher.
Investors who do not consider self-management from the beginning will leave it up to the management company and have no interest in the identity of the tenants.
As long as the rent is paid, all problems between residents are “left” to the management company.
As a side note, on June 15, 2021, the “Law Concerning the Proper Management of Rental Housing” came into effect, obliging businesses managing rental housing with 200 or more units to register within one year of construction.
Since management companies that are expected to manage more than 200 units in the future are also allowed to voluntarily register, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism is now able to confirm the number of rental housing management companies, which until now had not been accurately tracked by the Ministry.
According to the report, 8,943 companies were registered as of the end of March 2023.
In 2022, after the registration process had been completed, a nationwide on-site inspection was conducted on 97 of the registered companies, many of which had handled a large number of transactions.
The results of these inspections may have surprised many of you.
60%, or 59 companies, were given corrective guidance for violations of the obligation to explain important matters in the management contract and the obligation to deliver documents.
Although these results do not immediately condemn management companies for sloppy work, we often hear complaints from both rental owners and tenants that no matter how many times they contact the companies, they receive only empty replies and no action is taken.
Therefore, it is necessary to understand the method to be taken for the renter whose nuisance does not cease even if a notice is given, because the arrow often turns to the mediation contractor who is not directly concerned originally.
While it is natural to give notice to tenants who repeatedly cause nuisance, the “blame” for neglect falls on the rental owner.
If the tenant does not change his/her attitude despite repeated requests for improvement, the contract can be terminated on the grounds that the tenant has breached his/her obligation to comply with the lease contract.
There is no need to worry that the contract does not contain such language.
Article 616 and Article 594 of the Civil Code stipulate that the lessee shall use the leased premises in accordance with the usage determined by the nature of the subject matter, even if no special agreement has been made.
A breach of the obligation to comply with the intended use applies when the tenant violates this stipulation.
Therefore, even if there is no specific provision in the rental agreement, a tenant who does not change his/her attitude after repeated requests for improvement is entitled to terminate the contract.
However, in order to satisfy this requirement, the tenant must be given at least several demands for improvement.
The owner of a rental property has an obligation to eliminate the cause of the disturbance to the healthy use of the property when complaints are filed by other tenants who have been harmed.
If this is neglected, the tenant can file a claim against the rental owner for damages based on an act of omission. Therefore, if a complaint is made, it must be addressed immediately.
Understanding the limits of acceptance is necessary.
As explained in the previous section, the lease contract can be terminated when a tenant violates the obligation to comply with the usage laws by making noise at night, etc. However, this requires proof that the tenant has exceeded the acceptable limit.
Specifically, the following factors are required.
- The manner of the infringement
- The degree of infringement
- The nature and content of the infringed benefit
- The nature and extent of the public interest or public necessity of the infringing act
- The local environment
- The beginning of the act of infringement and its subsequent course and circumstances
- Existence or non-existence of damage prevention measures and their details
The number of times the notice has been given, the state of correction, and the effectiveness of the correction are all taken into consideration when making a decision on these various conditions.
The degree of distress caused by noise varies from person to person.
Some tenants may be sensitive to noise to the point of nervousness.
If such a person voices “annoyance,” it cannot be immediately judged as exceeding the limit of acceptance.
This is because it would be an abuse of rights if the situation is misjudged.
Generally speaking, the standard for “noise” exceeding the acceptable limit is 50db (decibel) or more during the daytime and 40db during the nighttime.
In comparison, the noise is about the same as the noise around a bank counter during the daytime and the noise inside a museum during the nighttime.
The perception of “sound” differs from person to person.
Some people may be oversensitive to lightweight impact noises, such as the sound of something light being dropped from a table, and some families with small children may make a fuss and file a complaint about “noise” from running around, which is something which cannot be prevented.
In such cases, it is essential to confirm the facts, and it is necessary to measure the noise level using a sound level meter, etc., rather than making a subjective judgment.
In such cases, it is necessary to confirm the facts and measure the noise with a noise meter, etc. In order to terminate the contract on the basis of breach of the obligation to comply with the usage laws, it is necessary to prove that the noise exceeds the acceptable limit, and in some cases, the party making the complaint may be making excessive demands.
Termination of Contract in Aid of Breach of Usage Compliance Obligation
As mentioned earlier, the tenant is obligated to use and profit from the leased premises in accordance with the usage determined by the nature of the subject matter of the contract. It is not an expression that requires voluntary effort, but rather an “obligation”.
Because of the fulfillment of these obligations, the tenant has the right to live without suffering any nuisances or other problems from other tenants. A claim the “noise” from the upper floor or the unit next door is noisy is a legitimate claim against the infringement of this right.
If such a claim is made by the tenant to the management company or the owner, the tenant must confirm the actual situation and take some corrective measures, as mentioned above.
If the noise is caused by the tenant’s lifestyle, we will urge the tenant to change his/her behavior, etc. However, if the tenant ignores our repeated warnings and repeats such nuisances, we will demand the tenant to cancel the contract and surrender the room on the basis of breach of the obligation to comply with the use of the room.
The basis for demanding surrender is the “cancellation by notice” stipulated in Article 541 of the Civil Code.
This is a provision real estate agents should be familiar with: “If one party does not perform its obligation at the time, the other party may demand performance by specifying a reasonable period of time, and if performance is not made within that period, the other party may cancel the contract.”
However, in order to use this provision to terminate the contract, the nuisance behavior exceeds the acceptable limit must have become the norm.
However, if the nuisance, or in other words, the degree of breach of duty, is so great that the relationship of trust between the owner and tenant is broken, the contract can be terminated immediately without notice, but this would be a last resort.
Usually, both parties are interviewed about the noise, and a specific investigation is conducted to determine whether or not there is a violation of the acceptable level of noise.
In my experience, there are many cases in which a tenant who complained about noise in the next unit is oversensitive to minor noises that are unavoidable in daily life.
In some cases, the person who claimed the noise was harassing the neighboring room by banging on the wall or yelling.
These cases show that it is important not to believe the claims of one party, but to confirm the facts.
If it is determined that the facts are beyond the acceptable limit, a demand will be made for a reasonable period of time to correct the situation. In such cases, a “reasonable period of time” should be about one to two weeks, taking into consideration that there are other tenants who are suffering from mental distress because the nuisance behavior has not stopped.
The notice should include a statement to that effect so that the declaration can be substantiated at a later date.
In this case, use a content-certified mail stating a reasonable period of time and that the contract will be terminated if the nuisance behavior does not cease within said period.
If the behavior is not corrected, the contract will be terminated and the tenant will be asked to vacate the property.
If the tenant moves out easily, that is fine, but if not, a “lawsuit demanding surrender” will be filed within the courts.
However, since the “doctrine of breach of trust” is usually applied when a content-certified letter is sent after following the proper procedures, the claim will be accepted in the lawsuit, and the court will send a written demand, and the lawsuit will proceed to compulsory execution.
In my experience, most of the cases are settled by serving a content-certified mail, and only a few of them end up in a lawsuit.
In this blog, we explained how to eliminate the cause of the noise problem, which is a common problem in the rental market, and how to terminate the contract.
The most widely recognized case of eviction due to contract termination is termination due to non-payment of rent.
However, this is not the only case.
The case is applicable when the relationship of trust between the owner and the tenant has been broken, including nuisances such as noise, as explained in this article.
As explained in the blog, the breakdown of trust is not only advantageous to the tenant, but also to the property owner.
In the case that maintenance and management is not performed about the building which is promised in the contract, and no action is taken even if it requests that attention be paid about the nuisance behavior of other tenants, it is possible to offer contract cancellation from the side of the owner, to move out, and to claim compensation for damages including the cost required for it, etc.
As a mediator’s position, it will be necessary to understand such a basic idea to face potential future troubles.
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