How to Deal With Noisy Neighbors

When I was in college, I shared a room with a rock nut-head. At the time, I hadn’t indulged in rock music and I didn’t care much for it. Unfortunately, I slept to it every night and woke up to it every morning. The most annoying thing was that he always played it at the highest volume possible and no amount of complaining would make him reduce it.

One day, on a Saturday morning just before spring break, there came a bully from downstairs and oh boy, he was mad as hell! He tore our room apart and destroyed anything that resembled rock. The whole school knew about this. To date, that is my most memorable college experience.

Am I suggesting you tear people’s houses down? No, I want to suggest a few alternative solutions.

To deal with noisy neighbors, first, establish what kind they are. Some people are just aloof and hard to approach. Others are hospitable and easy to talk to, others are mysterious. Once you know the caliber of neighbors you are dealing with, device a strategy to address the issue. You can talk to them directly, write a letter, or use the apartment’s caretaker to relay the message. After you deliver the message, you may have to make a follow-up in case there is no change.

How to Deal With Aloof Noisy Neighbors

The challenge of dealing with these neighbors is that they know it all. They think highly of themselves so they are already ‘the superior neighbor.’ If it’s a level of noise you can bear, just tolerate it. Try maneuver by keeping your windows and doors closed.

Alternatively, grab the bull by its horns; give them a piece of your mind. I promise you, it’s going to be rough. Expect some crude reception or they may just decide to do the opposite of the request. If you are ready for a fight, return the favor, play music at the loudest volume possible.

If you want to handle the issue peacefully, a substitute strategy of minimizing the noise is using house appliances that produce a white sound. For instance, an air purifier may not reduce the noise but it can mildly drown it.

If you can afford it, you can solve the issue by soundproofing your house. Adding soundproof aids to your ceiling, floors, and walls doesn’t stop the noise but it reduces the noise substantially.

For you to soundproof the house, you need to ensure the lease allows for modifications. You may also need to involve the landlord in case he has any preservation. Finally, it’s advisable you use a professional interior designer to ensure you get the best results.

How to Deal with Friendly Noisy Neighbors

Your neighbors may be friendly but that does not mean they will always be considerate. They may be the kind that holds parties often, or they enjoy loud movie sounds. The only advantage is you can engage them without setting yourself up for drama. To address the issue, do the following.

1.    Make a courtesy visit

Once you knock on their door, request if the can reduce the noise citing the reason why. You can say, for instance, “I don’t know if you notice but your volume is roaring loud, I am trying to study but I just can’t do so with all this noise. Kindly reduce.” If they are kind, they will minimize.

What if they don’t, go back and knock, remind them the noise distracts you. This time be a bit firm; remind them of your previous visit with a similar complaint.

2.    Use another neighbor

If you have another neighbor, request if they can confront the noisy neighbor on your behalf or while you accompany them. The second neighbor serves two purposes. They confirm the concern is not personal and additionally act as a witness.

3.    Document the complaint

We hope you won’t have to go this far but in case you do, you need to document (you will see why in the next section – how to report). Mark the noisy days on your calendar and indicate the time if possible.

Issue a copy of the document to the neighbor, the landlord, and any other stakeholders.

How to Report Noisy Neighbors

The law allows you to report noisy neighbors if you can’t find a solution in the neighborhood. You can report them to the landlord and if there is no response, you are allowed to call the police. Here are the steps to follow.

1.    Find your lease document

Most apartments issue a lease agreement when one is moving in. Check if yours has a clause on noise levels – most lease agreements have. Make a copy of the agreement and carry it as you file the report.

2.    Engage another neighbor

Lodging a complaint with the authorities requires a witness. This enables the officials handling the case to have a base to settle the case. The complaint doesn’t appear personal when there is a 3rd person. You may talk to just a random neighbor nearby or your immediate neighbor – one who you probably involved earlier.

3.    Have proof

I am yet to witness a successfully resolved conflict that does not require evidence. Your complaint will require you to record at least 3 separate episodes that prove your neighbor is not cooperating. Keep the emails or texts exchanged. If you call, ensure you record the call for evidence.

4.    Warn them before reporting

If all that fails, give them a final warning. You can tell them “We’ve tried solving this noise issue without success; I have resolved to seek further assistance.” Most people will simply dismiss you and assume those are empty threats.

When the time comes, they will watch you in disbelief as they receive their notice to vacate.

Final Note

Reporting noisy neighbors should be the last result. It should not be rushed into as the authorities will assume you have tried all other avenues without success.

Having that in mind, I recommend you give your neighbor several opportunities to change. Engage other neighbors, your landlord, and anyone else who can offer help before reporting.

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How To Tell Someone Something Difficult


Am a graduate sociologist and a regular contributor to national publications such as the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Journal of Applied Social Science and the Annual Review of Sociology.

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