If you don’t hear arguing neighbors, loud music, or Saturday afternoon drilling at home, then you probably live in a single-family home. Residents in apartment buildings, however, are constantly exposed to noise pollution that often even violates quiet hours. But are the midday and night rest periods regulated by law in Germany? What rules of conduct must be observed at this time? And what are the consequences of violations? We now answer these questions.
Table of contents
In Germany, general rest periods apply, which are regulated in the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG). These relate, among other things, to night rest, which applies from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. on weekdays (Monday to Saturday). On Sundays and public holidays, all-day quiet time is specified. The regulations may differ at the municipal level, but the times are nevertheless largely identical.
In contrast to night rest, midday rest is not regulated as rigorously. It is not regulated by law at either federal or state level, but there is a ban on operating some equipment and machinery at certain times.
Even if there is no law regulating midday rest, in many federal states, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, it is stipulated in almost every rental agreement or house rules. And these are binding. For example, some noisy activities, such as drilling or hammering, are prohibited between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Here you can find more information about the noon rest period in NRW .
What is allowed during quiet hours?
Although night-time quiet hours apply throughout Germany, and in some federal states, midday quiet hours apply in apartment buildings, they are not unrestricted. Some activities, while causing some noise, are considered exceptions and are allowed at all times. Here are some examples:
Bathing and showering.
There is no prohibition on faucet use during quiet hours. While splashing water can be annoying in the late hours of the night, flushing the water is part of the normal use of the apartment. In some cities, however, such as Düsseldorf, nighttime bathing and showering may not last longer than 30 minutes.
Raising and lowering roller shutters
Since the purpose of roller shutters is to darken interiors at night and brighten them up again in the morning, it is permissible to operate external blinds even during the night’s rest. However, one must try to make as little noise as possible when doing so.
Neighbors may not complain about children’s screams in the afternoon and evening, especially when babies and toddlers are involved. Children’s noise is considered an “expression of natural child development” and is therefore to be accepted at all times, even if it is frowned upon.
Other activities are only allowed at room volume during quiet hours.
What is forbidden?
Some activities around the house and garden can be characterized as a noise nuisance and are not permitted during quiet hours. For example, residents in residential areas where the noon quiet hour is in effect are not allowed to beat out clothing, carpets, and blankets between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Activities prohibited during overnight and midday quiet hours include:
Operating loud garden equipment.
Noise-related equipment is prohibited from operating at certain times. For example, brush cutters, grass trimmers, leaf blowers and leaf collectors without sound power levels may only be used between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Manual alternatives, such as hedge trimmers, are permitted.
Practicing and playing musical instruments is prohibited during the midday and night rest periods in Germany if a room volume cannot be maintained.
Parties and loud music
Parties in the rented apartment are only allowed outside the quiet hours. After 10 p.m. or 11 p.m., loud conversations, music and other noises are prohibited and can lead to fines, confiscation of music equipment and, in some cases, even termination of the rental contract.
Vacuuming during quiet hours
Noisy housekeeping activities, such as vacuuming, are usually subject to ordinances in the house rules or lease agreement. In general, you should refrain from doing so during the noon and night rest periods. The vacuum cleaner may only be switched on in an emergency and for as short a period as possible.
Despite regulations, disturbances of peace are not uncommon, especially in big cities. But how should one act against the noisemakers? In the first place, it is always advisable to seek dialogue. If this does not help and the noise becomes unbearable, you can complain to the landlord, which may result in a warning or even termination of the lease without notice. In an emergency, you can also call the police. According to the Law on Administrative Offenses, perpetrators of unacceptable or avoidable noise can be fined up to 5,000 euros.