If you’ve lived in an apartment, you know the pros and cons of that lifestyle. Even within the same community, every unit experience is different, especially when it comes to notorious noise issues. You never know who your neighbors are going to be or what their habits – or their nuances – are.
Here’s what you should know about adequately managing a situation with a noisy neighbor.
Most Common Noise Complaints
It’s never fun to have your TV show – or thoughts – interrupted by a loud booming bass or war movie sounds coming from above or next door. It’s even worse if you’re trying to sleep or work. The noisy neighbor issue most commonly takes place when:
- Music is too loud
- The TV is too loud
- A dog is barking incessantly (and too loud)
- A party is getting out of hand (and too loud)
Although it’s hard to believe (and it’s annoying), it’s very possible that your neighbor doesn’t even realize how much their sounds are affecting your quality of life. On top of that, they may underestimate how thin the walls are and believe that you can’t hear them at all. To them, it seems like a normal volume. To you, it’s disrupting your daily life. While the apartment complex may be pet-friendly, and some barking is expected, incessant howling or yapping is not acceptable. It should definitely be addressed, along with the other common noise issues.
Is Your Neighbor Breaking The Noise Rules?
Before taking action regarding your neighbor, make sure you have a legitimate case. A great way to determine if your neighbor is breaking any definitive rules is by checking your local noise ordinance laws as well as your apartment complex’s quiet enjoyment clause.
Noise ordinance laws prohibit excessive noise during certain times. Time limitations can vary between weekdays and weekends, as well as during the day and night. Typical quiet hours are 11 p.m. to 7 or 8 a.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. or midnight to 8, 9, or 10 a.m. on weekends and holidays. The quiet enjoyment clause for your apartment community may have tighter hours than your city ordinances to maintain a pleasant atmosphere for all residents.
Ultimately, when deciding whether it’s worth pursuing further action, try to be reasonable and understand that noise in an apartment complex is inevitable. Otherwise, you’ll be filing complaints left and right. Absolute quiet won’t really be an option, but you shouldn’t have to deal with loud, incessant noises that disrupt your daily life.
Steps To Take When You Have An Incessantly Noisy Neighbor
Once you’ve decided that the noise is too loud to handle and it falls within restricted hours, it’s time to start taking steps to resolve it. Here are a few ways you can begin the process of snuffing out those loud, continual sounds.
- Document and Record Incidents: It’s important to compile proof of the disturbances – and to do so more than once. Continue to document the incidents consistently, preferably on paper and recorded on your phone. This way, you gather enough evidence to bring to your property manager or landlord.
- Lightly Knock on the Adjoining Wall: Be courteous and civil by lightly knocking – not banging – on the wall adjoining your apartments. This is a calm way to ask for them to reduce the noise level. You might be pleasantly surprised at how accommodating neighbors can be once they know they’ve been disturbing you.
- Pay a Friendly Visit: Introduce yourself and open a line of communication. A little friendliness and a cordial request can go a long way. Maybe your upstairs neighbor wears large boots around the apartment and wouldn’t mind taking them off as he or she dwells in the unit. You never know until you kindly ask.
- Reach out to Property Management: If no other option works, or you prefer to avoid contact or confrontation with your neighbor, reach out to your property manager or landlord. This is a good option, especially if you live in a large complex and rarely meet or see your neighbor. Bring your evidence of the incidents and discuss what can be done. At this time, you can also discuss future lease options or transfer to a different unit.
- File a Formal Complaint: Start a paper trail. While speaking to your property manager in person is a great option, it’s important to supplement your approach with a letter or email as an official complaint. Include where the noise occurred, when it occurred, what the noise was, and if it ever stopped after previous complaints or requests. Also mention the noise ordinances and quiet hours to show that you’re aware of the standards.
- Soundproof Yourself and Your Apartment: It can take time to fix a noise issue. In the interim, you can invest in noise-canceling curtains, acoustic panels, wireless noise-canceling headphones, a white noise machine, and/or soundproof artwork. For outdoor soundproofing, it helps to add plants to your balcony to absorb some of the noise.
- Don’t Get Involved if it Sounds Suspicious or Dangerous: Be mindful of potential criminal activity going on and prioritize your safety. If someone is pounding on your neighbor’s door angrily, contact the police. Try to distinguish annoying sound disturbances vs. potentially dangerous situations.
Steps to Prevent the Noise Issue
The best way to manage noisy neighbors is by thinking ahead. Be upfront when you’re viewing apartment units because leasing agents know which buildings or areas tend to be quieter or louder. Try to go for units on the uppermost floor so that you’re not disturbed by anyone above you. Noise isn’t completely predictable, but you can take these precautions for your best chance at a more serene living experience.
Do Your Neighbors a Favor, Too
You can do your part by being courteous to your neighbors and leading as an example. Try to make small adjustments such as switching to softer shoes or socks when at home and being aware of when you’re listening to loud music or another form of media entertainment. Having realistic expectations of apartment noise can help with perspective, but knowing when the sound is excessive and affecting your quality of life will give you peace of mind for the days, weeks, months, and years you live in your community.