How to Complain About Noisy Neighbors Without Being a Jerk
Unless you live in a fairly remote area, chances are that you heard at least some noise from your neighbors, be it loud music, working with a car, barking dogs, or screaming children. Those of us who live in apartments, condos, terraced houses, or other homes where everyone is in close proximity may experience this on a daily basis. But how do you deal with this kind and respectful way so as not to seem like a jerk? Here are some options.
Talk to them
Your neighbors may be noisy, but they (probably) can’t read minds. Before taking any other action, start by talking to your neighbors about noise. They may not even be aware that they are annoying or disturbing.
If there is a specific reason why you are worried about their noise – for example, a young child who needs to sleep – in a message to Nationwide Insurance blog says that you should not be afraid to raise this question. Unless your neighbors are monsters, they won’t have trouble settling down so they don’t interfere with children’s sleep.
Nationwide also advises bringing pastries to your neighbors when you visit and ask them to calm down. And no, it’s not a trick (like making sweet caramel and peanut butter cakes to keep their mouths full, which means they can’t argue loudly), but rather a kill them with kindness strategy.
Offer a plan and / or compromise
Let’s say you walked into the neighborhood and chatted with your neighbors and found out that there is a good reason for the noise. Maybe they’re in a band that needs to rehearse, or maybe they’re renovating their kitchen. In such situations, RentLingo believes that compromises can be made, such as banning the band from performing after 10:00 pm or using loud power tools until 8:00.
Of course, this is not always an option, for example if the noise comes from a barking dog or a crying child, both of which are much more difficult to reason with and persuade to restrain their noise during certain hours.
Come up with possible solutions
You can also reach out to your neighbors for potential solutions to the noise problem – ideally when you bring the issue up first. For example, if they’re playing loud music late at night, you might suggest getting a pair of wireless or long-cord headphones so they can keep doing whatever they need to do at home, Nationwide recommends . Or, for example, they are your upstairs neighbors and do not understand that they are stomping like a herd of elephants at 5 am, you can point them in the direction of comfortable slippers or a stylish rug that can help absorb sound.
Warn the neighbors
If you’ve tried to communicate noise to them and tried to reach a compromise and / or suggested ways to deal with it, but they’re still very loud, you can warn them one last time before contacting someone with your complaint. Depending on where you live, this could be your landlord, management company, homeowners’ association or, in situations where you do not deal with any of the above, the police.
According to FindLaw , one way to do this is to give your neighbor a copy of the local noise ordinances with the relevant parts underlined or highlighted. However, make it clear that you will talk about noise with the relevant authorities. This might be what it takes to silence them.
Talk to your landlord, property management company, or HOA
If the alert doesn’t work, it’s probably time to talk to someone about it. And don’t just complain “they’re too loud”: ApartmentSearch recommends that you prepare a list of specific examples, including dates and times when the noise was particularly annoying. At this point, you can recall any local or building-specific noise standards again. Also, ask the person you are dealing with to keep you informed of any updates from your neighbors – although you can probably tell if they are compliant by the lack of noise.
As a last resort, contact the police.
If all else fails, you always have the option of contacting your local police station with a noise complaint. According to FindLaw , you must demonstrate to the police that you tried to fix the problem yourself, but that your neighbor continues to be too loud. In addition, FindLaw says that “it is best to call the police at a time when you feel that a noise ordinance is being violated, or to specify a period of time during which the violation will repeat itself.”
Finally, as ApartmentSearch notes, call your police department’s non-emergency number, not 9-1-1. You definitely don’t want to start with the cops on the wrong foot by calling the emergency number because of the noise.
This story was originally published in December 2011 and has been updated on November 23, 2020 to provide more details and in line with Lifehacker’s style guidelines.