How to file a noise complaint in Miami

Miami is known for many things, but among those things, some of the first that come to mind are good weather, nightlife, parties, outdoor activities, active urban scene, Latin influence, music, and cultural festivals… and you know what all those have in common? Well, they tend to be loud.

Miami has a population of under half a million people, it really isn’t a big city, but this variety of activities, together with a busy airport and heavy traffic can make it quite loud.

Miami’s noise ordinance

Miami downtown street view at night with hotels.

Miami city spreads across several counties. Most of its surface falls under either Miami-dade county, Broward or Palm Beach. This means the noise regulations might be slightly different depending on which part of the city you are in. But if we had to summarize the noise ordinances of these counties into one single, comprehensible text, it would be something like the following:

“It shall be unlawful for any person to make, continue, or cause to be made or continued any unreasonably loud, excessive, unnecessary or unusual noise.”

“Between 11pm and 7am, any noise that is plainly audible from a distance of 100 feet is considered unlawful.”

“Sources of unlawful noise include, but are not limited to:

  • Horns and other signaling devices from cars, buses, motorcycles or other vehicles.
  • Radios, televisions, phonographs and other amplified sounds.
  • Animal noise. This does not only include dogs (which are the most common source of conflict between neighbors), but also birds and any other pet animals.
  • Whistles, unless they are warning of fire or other danger.
  • Exhausts from any type of motor vehicle or stationary engine, such as power units.
  • Hawkers, peddlers and other sounds designed to attract attention. This means no ice cream trucks playing creepy music.
  • Power tools and landscaping equipment. For this particular category, quiet hours extend from 8pm to 7am.
  • Shouting. This includes parties and social gatherings.”

The ordinance pays special attention to any noise occurring near schools, courts and hospitals. The noise around these types of buildings is expected to be kept to a minimum in order not to disturb the regular activities of such centers.” This means, for example, that permits for non-emergency construction might only be given for dates when schools are off.

The next step is defining what is considered too loud, and this is where things start getting a bit tricky. The ordinance establishes the following parameters in decibels:

Type of land useAt the property line or beyond. Between 7am and 10pm (Day)At property line or beyond. Between 7am and 10pm (Day)
Single-family5dBA above ambient up to 55dBA max10dBA above ambient up to 60dBA max
Multifamily, institutional, parks and noise-sensitive zones5dBA above ambient up to 60dBA max10dBA above ambient up to 65dBA max
Retail commercial (offices, retail, restaurants and movies)5dBA above ambient up to 65dBA max10dBA above ambient up to 65dBA max
Wholesale commercial and industrial5dBA above ambient up to 70dBA max10dBA above ambient up to 75dBA max

Is Miami’s noise ordinance fair?

Now, you might think this is great, and that the ordinance sets clear guidelines for proper citizen behavior, listing multiple sources of noise that might be considered unlawful and setting up clear quiet hours, and specific dB readings. This is, in fact, much better than noise ordinances in other cities, but there’s one detail that bothers us, which is the definition of “ambient noise”.

The table above defines maximum noise readings, which is good, but how can one prove if noise is 5dBA above ambient noise without reaching that maximum?

If we’ve learned something about noise over the years is that context is everything, and what seems quiet in one context might be too loud in another. Miami’s ordinance does make a difference between land uses, but even within the same type of land use, not all neighborhoods are the same, and some are quieters than others. 

If you live in a single-family house in a busy neighborhood 55dBA at night might seem quiet compared to day levels. But if you live in a single-family house that’s surrounded by nature 55dBA can be very disturbing. 

We understand the ordinance was trying to be considerate of this difference by setting “ambient noise” as the baseline for each scenario, but from a legal point of view “ambient noise” is very hard to measure, and therefore adding 5 or 10dBA to something that’s not measurable becomes complicated, leaving us only with maximum readings to work with.

How to file a noise complaint in Miami

Now that you have a better understanding of what might be considered excessive noise in Miami you’ll probably be able to assess whether or not is worth filing a noise complaint in your particular situation.

Noise from neighbors

If you want to file a noise complaint against a neighbor you have serval options:

  • If you want to file your complaint during business hours, that is Monday to Friday between 8am an 5pm, you may also call the Department of Code Compliance at (305)416-2087.
  • After normal business hours you may call their hotline at (786)457-0995.
  • Your last shot is to call the Miami Police Department non-emergency number 311.
  • The Miami city website also lists email as a way to file a complaint, although in that case the response will certainly not be immediate. If you want to follow that route you should address your message to

Noise from short-term rentals

What if the neighbor is actually a short-term rental?

Short-term rentals can be noisy. Tenants are usually there for just a few days and they want to have fun. If that’s the situation you are dealing with, there is a high chance that the property was rented through Airbnb, in which case you could try contacting the Airbnb team directly.

Many cities have passed laws or are working on passing laws to regulate Airbnb’s activity precisely because of how they disturb normal neighborhood dynamics. It is therefore in Airbnb’s best interest to minimize any disturbances, and they are likely to respond quickly.

Noise from airplanes and other aircrafts

Miami international airport serves over 34 million passengers per year, with more than 1400 arrivals and departures every single day. Jet airplanes benign one of the loudest sources of noise in our society, it seems unavoidable that certain areas will be affected by their noise.

If you have a complaint about aircraft noise in Miami you can call the Miami Aviation Department Noise Abatement Office at 305-876-PLANE (305-876-0569).

Noise from dogs and other pet animals

Dogs barking are one of the main causes of noise-related problems between neighbors. If your neighbor’s dog (or any other pet animal) is abnormally noisy and that bothers you, you can call the Police Department non-emergency line at (305)476-5423.

In this case you might also want to get in touch with any animal protection organizations in your area. Often animals pets are loud when they are not properly taken care of, and if that’s the case these organizations really know how to proceed in order to collect the right evidence and get it to the right authorities.

Other types of noise

For any other type of noise that does not have a specific department that controls it, you should proceed as explained in the “noise from neighbors” section.


The city of Miami, across its multiple counties, seems to take noise seriously. They have an overall good noise ordinance. It can be a bit ambiguous in some points, but it is quite robust nevertheless.

Of course in the end it all comes down to how this ordinance is enforced, and whether the police department and other organisms responsible for its application have the right resources to respond to complaints and do their job well.

Avatar photo
This article was a collaborative effort by the Fight for Silence team, a group of like-minded noise fighters with experience in fields such as physics, construction, medicine, law, and more. You can read more about us and our mission here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *