How to Handle Noisy Neighbors

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There are many ways to handle and several things to consider if you live in a place where you unfortunately have a noisy neighbor. Some minor discussions or actions may cure the issue, although sometimes the best option is to move at the end of your lease. If you are someone who is bothered by a nuisance neighbor, here are some items to consider and do to resolve the issue.

First, are you being reasonable? Is it once in a while or once a week? Is it really loud and disturbing or just a little annoying? Is it all the time or at certain times? Could you close the windows to end the noise for once-in-a-while occurrences? Or is it too much to handle?

I live in a relatively quiet area myself, but the 1950’s single-family homes are close together – eight to 10 feet separate the houses on the sides and 100 feet backyard to backyard. A grandma lives on one side, a 55-year-old divorcee on another, and a family behind. This sounds like the perfect place for a nice quiet living. Guess what, there are dogs barking, including mine, grandma turning up the TV on Sunday mornings, and the divorcee, he is in a band that practices in his garage.

Noise is everywhere, and while my house receives noise from one of the three adjacent houses one to two times per week, that is part of living where I live. I’m sure my dog barking annoys my neighbors too at points. Most of us cannot afford to live on a big parcel where we can make as much noise as we would like, so we have to be reasonable within our surroundings.

If the noise is above your reasonable level of sound or frequency, here is guidance that may assist you – subject to every situation being different.

First, handle it professionally whether you are talking to the noise maker’s landlord or the maker him/herself. Maybe they do not know about the level of noise they are making, or maybe they can adjust their noise-making schedule, and surely they appreciate the quiet that you provide when they want it quiet. You might diplomatically remind them of that. Try to keep an open channel of communication and reasonableness in your mind.

Note: If there is a safety concern in dealing with the noisy individual(s), take precaution and it may make sense to discuss it first with the local police, code compliance officials, property management company, or property owner. Some people are just not reasonable nor concerned about their behavior’s impact on others – this is unfortunate but a part of life.

The typical options in this order would be:

1. Talk to them directly and try to resolve the problem with them. Let them know when the noise occurs, the level of the noise, why it is bothersome to you, and that you would greatly appreciate it if they could really be careful and watch their noise level. You could do this with an anonymous note, calling them, or talking directly to them. Be diplomatic.

2. If they are renting, you could next talk to their landlord, the building owner, or the homeowners association with a reasonable complaint about their noise. If they are renting, this will usually solve the issue. Most landlords do not want to deal with noisy tenants and will take measures to help out the situation. Sometime, however, even the landlord talking to them will not work.

3. If the above do not work, you can call the county code compliance office for information on how to report the nuisance to the police. If their level of noise rises to it being a violation of the local laws, the police should be able to assist. You would need to call the police when the noise occurs so that they can come to the house and observe it for themselves. They will usually give warning the first time and that usually solves the problem. If it doesn’t, they may be cited for a noise violation and the penalties could get progressively worse. Note: This police responding may not be true if the noise is inside a large private apartment development and not outrageously unreasonable. It may be wholly up to the management company or community’s security detail to handle a normal noise nuisance – so know the phone number for them.

Regardless, make sure to keep detailed notes of the disturbance, times, days, etc. so that you can discuss that with the owner, landlord, or police so they know it is an ongoing issue. Handle it professionally with them.

If those don’t work, your best bet may be to find more suitable housing. Make sure you let your landlord know this is your reason for moving. Going forward, you should consider an area to live where there is a better chance there will be quieter neighbors. For example, don’t rent a place in a college student area and then complain about noise from the students. We all know some areas are more noise prone than others.

Hopefully the suggestions above will help you with a course of action that will quickly resolve the issue for all parties and keep good relations with your neighbors.