Teaching in my condo
What to do about HOA rules?

Danielle Deming said: Sep 7, 2012
Danielle Deming
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki Early Childhood Education
Irvine, CA
1 posts

My homeowners’ association in the condominium complex has a bylaw stating that my unit can be used for residential use only (no business or commerce). I don’t have many students and they aren’t noisy in common areas, but a neighbor is complaining about the noise and now saying that I am not abiding by the bylaws.

Has anyone dealt with this? Any advice?

André said: Sep 7, 2012
André AugensteinViolin, Piano
55 posts

So do you have a little patience,and you have study just only the clock deal..
Regards and good look

Violin Student(International Suzuki Association) in Germany 1987
Violin teacher (International Suzuki Association) in Dublin 1995

Marthe said: Sep 7, 2012
 Voice, Piano, Viola, Violin
New York, NY
1 posts

How long have you lived there? There is something called a “grandfather’ clause, which means that if you have been doing something that is not illegal or immoral but is requested not to do in your lease, yet you have been without complaint for a specified length of time, you may continue as long as noise complaints do not continue. I taught in my apartment for years without complaint, but when a new tenant moved below me, they had a newborn and complained. Because I was grandfathered in, the leasing manager asked me to slightly restrict my hours of teaching and as long as I followed this new schedule, even if they later complained, I was covered by the clause and therefore taught/rehearsed there for many more years until I moved to my present address where I have once again grandfathered my teaching/rehearsing. I am very careful to make music during reasonable hours to avoid complaints. Hope that this helps.

Marthe’ Miller
Voice, Violin, Viola, Piano, Theory

Lori Bolt said: Sep 8, 2012
Lori Bolt
Suzuki Association Member
San Clemente, CA
226 posts

I would talk to your neighbor to see if you can reach an agreement. You’ll might need to be willing to adjust teaching times in order to continue. Find out what the specific issue is for the neighbor….is someone unwittingly parking in his/her extra space, etc. Give your families specific boundaries—do’s & don’ts based on what the conflict seems to be.

I’ve lived/ taught in apartments, condos, rental homes of all kinds—shared walls is a challenge, but I teach piano, a much louder instrument in my mind. I’ve never had a problem, but when we move into some place new, I always mention my teaching to the immediate neighbors. In condos, I did not teach at night. How is it that the neighbor even hears the violin?

Lori Bolt

Merietta Oviatt said: Sep 8, 2012
Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Suzuki in the Schools, Cello, Viola
Stevens Point, WI
104 posts

Just like Lori, I have lived in condos and apartments for a long time and I make sure to introduce myself to all of my immediate neighbors and tell them that A- I am a musician and need to practice and B- I teach. I’ve never had a problem and have only had one neighbor tell me not to play during specific times as they worked night shifts and really needed the mornings to sleep. I do not allow my students to wander around the complex or even sit outside. They have to stay in my apartment. If they have little ones they either have to remain quiet or cannot come. Also, be sure they know where the guest parking is. Just as Lori, I believe you need to go talk to the neighbor. Find out what the problem is and compromise. There is a possibility that this won’t work out for you. You may need to go to your church and see if for a small fee you can teach there. Or, try asking a friend who has a more lenient living situation. Good luck!!

Dr. Merietta Oviatt
Suzuki Specialist
Viola/Violin Instructor
Aber Suzuki Center, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
[javascript protected email address]

Julie Stroud said: Sep 8, 2012
Julie StroudViolin, Viola
11 posts

Because the issue is specifically addressed in your HOA agreement, you may have to talk to the HOA governing board and either see if there is some compromise that can be made or ask for a waiver. The worst they can do is say no, or they might place limits on the number of students and/or times you can teach, but having a place to live sort of trumps having to find a new place to teach. Does the complex have a community center or commons area with suitable space? That might also be an option. Trying to work it out with your neighbor seems like a very reasonable thing to do, and obviously the first course of action, but if she’s already started talking about the “noise” to others, being proactive with the HOA seems like the smart way to cover your legal bases.


Julie Stroud

André said: Sep 8, 2012
André AugensteinViolin, Piano
55 posts

Just be careful not to have the same problem i had
when i give violin lessons at my church,or confuse the professional
side with the spiritual side…

Violin Student(International Suzuki Association) in Germany 1987
Violin teacher (International Suzuki Association) in Dublin 1995

Jennifer said: Nov 16, 2012
Jennifer Louie
Suzuki Association Member
Tuscaloosa, AL
9 posts

Hello Danielle,

I live in an HOA community as well. I receive calls from prospective students asking why I teach at the music school instead of my house. Your topic is good for those whom are planning to purchase a condo or home with an HOA.
Advice- Check with your HOA about the bylaws. Also, I would look at teaching at a church, music school or share a teaching space with another teacher outside of your housing area. I am fortunate that my music fraternity sister from college is the current president of my HOA, but I want to maintain good relations among my neighbors as we plan to stay there.
Music teachers that are starting out: When buying your home or condo, it is a good idea to check into the HOA situation, particularly if you plan to teach in your home. Many HOAs have websites or facebook pages. Also, my family is active with our HOA by attending annual meetings as well. We want to have a voice about our neighborhood.

Good Luck!


Jennifer Louie

Paula Bird said: Nov 17, 2012
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Piano, Viola
Wimberley, TX
386 posts

There are neighborhood associations and city zoning ordinances that may apply as well. Be very careful about this legal issue. You may be evicted or fined if you are not careful. The days of lessons in the home unaffected by these rules are long past.

Paula E. Bird
TX State University
Wildflower Suzuki Studio
http://teachsuzuki.blogspot.com (blog)
http://teachsuzuki.com (podcast)

Jennifer Visick said: Dec 20, 2012
Jennifer VisickForum Moderator
Suzuki Association Member
Viola, Suzuki in the Schools, Violin
998 posts

Hi Danielle (this is Jenny Visick). Let me know if this is still a problem for you. We may be able to work something out so you can rent a space to teach lessons in one of the rooms where we hold group classes.

-Jenny Visick-

Jeremy Chesman said: Dec 31, 2012
Jeremy Chesman
Suzuki Association Member
Organ, Recorder, Voice, Harp
Springfield, MO
24 posts

I had a condo in which I practiced and taught both organ and harp. I even had a small pipe organ in the place (very high ceilings). Of course, no one ever complained about the harp. The only comment I got was that my upstairs neighbor said she liked when I practiced at night because she could fall asleep to the harp. The organ, however, was a different story. I found that it was much better when I moved it to an outside wall (so at least the sound wasn’t going directly through the wall to someone’s house). It was also near a corner where I knew no one had their sleeping areas in other units. You might also be able to put some decoration on the wall that helps to absorb/dampen the sound. Perhaps some nice curtains, or a wall hanging. In my office at school right now, I’m working on an art project painting used egg cartons (the absorb sound really well) and sort of gluing them together in a pastiche effect. I’m not a very good artist, but I just want something a little more visually appealing than cardboard on the wall.

Emily said: Sep 22, 2013
 59 posts

Communication is a good route to take. Perhaps speak first with the property manager so you can understand any laws and restrictions (or lack there of), and then speak with your neighbor to try to reach an agreement.

Emily Christensen
Music Teacher & Writer

Lauren said: Jul 23, 2015
Lauren Lamont
Suzuki Association Member
Violin, Viola
Edmonds, WA
33 posts

Hello All,
I am dealing with the same situation. For me, I don’t think it’s a matter of getting around the HOA rule because it clearly states “No business run out of your unit.”
Also, my complex is an older structure and does not have good soundproofing, nor a community complex. I sometimes practice in my unit with a rubber practice mute, but my serious practice happens at the community music school where I teach full time. But I want to cut back as I get older and also can make quite a bit more money teaching on my own. I am a single lady and not able to afford a single residence home, which would solve the problem.

I am searching for teachers who are interested in a shared teaching studio situation, either sharing their home studio for some extra income, or a rented space. I know this response doesn’t offer help for your situation, but I’m glad you brought this to the discussion forum. I am also interested in responses to the situation.

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