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Noisy neighbors are a common problem in a society where many people live closely together. Obviously, this issue can be most significant when you share walls or a floor/ceiling with a neighbor in an apartment, duplex or condo. But even in freestanding homes, a noisy neighbor can make life challenging, particularly if noise continues well into the night, or occurs during early morning hours. This situation is a delicate one to deal with, requiring your ability to keep your calm, especially when discussing the noise with a neighbor.
Reason suggests that you should first attempt to address noisy neighbors about the noise. This conversation should be polite, even friendly. It can begin with a statement like, “I’m not sure you’re aware” so that the noise is attributed merely to the person’s inability to recognize that the noise they make penetrates your walls. Explain briefly the noise issue, and ask the neighbor to turn down the music, create situations for the dog to stop barking, or not hold parties until 3 AM. You can also add that you realize they hear your noise also, and you’re certainly willing to try to stop anything in your behavior that is creating extra noise in their home.
You should be aware that not all neighbors are going to respond to your request, and some may respond in a hostile manner. If noisy neighbors don’t change their behavior, the next step should be to write a letter (keep a copy), detailing the noise. There is one exception to this. If noisy neighbors respond in manner so hostile that you fear for your safety, your next step when noise occurs should be a call to the police. However, when a neighbor is simply non-compliant with your request, you can use the follow up letter.
The letter should state the specific grievances, and any dates when the noise was particularly bothersome. For example, if your neighbor has loud gatherings every Friday night that last into the early morning, then reference those dates on which the gatherings occur. Also, you should check with your city ordinances regarding acceptable levels of noise. Many cities and towns allow a certain amount of party noise, or people playing their music until about 10pm.
If you live in an apartment or are part of a homeowner’s association (HOA), you should also check for any policies on noise. It may be that your HOA or apartment complex has specific quiet time rules. With your letter to noisy neighbors, include copies of city ordinances on noise, HOA rules, or apartment complex rules. Politely ask the neighbor to comply with these ordinances and do state that you will need to report continued violations to complex management, HOA or local police if necessary.
When the noise remains ongoing, you should definitely report it to local authorities. Start with landlords or HOAs and continue with calls to the police department, when absolutely necessary. You might want to enlist other neighbors who may also be bothered by the same noisy neighbors. Overall, your goal is to establish a pattern of behavior should you need to sue the neighbors for nuisance behavior. Often, however, the problem is resolved when the noisy neighbors know you are going to call the police.
Do be aware that you cannot always request noisy neighbors to be quiet. Some people have a lower tolerance for noise, and what you define as noisy neighbors may not really constitute nuisance behavior. Carefully read specific apartment, HOA rules or city ordinances to see if your neighbor’s noise is actually violating rules.
Also, it is wise not to respond to noise in an angry or retaliatory fashion. If you have followed through with the steps and letter, don’t start banging things around in your home or turning up the music to annoy the neighbor. Simply report behavior to the appropriate authorities. To respond otherwise is to weaken your case should you need to take the matter to small court.