How to Complain About Your Noisy Neighbors Without Being a Jerk

Blog

1. Pick Your Battles

Before deciding to move forward with confronting or reporting your noisy neighbors, it’s important to determine whether the battle is worth fighting. Whether you live in a complex with thin walls or a townhouse with next-door neighbors, you’re part of a community. 

Within your community, some noise is to be expected. If your neighbors are a family with infants or young children, be prepared for crying, screaming, and laughter. That’s what family life is. If they have dogs, expect occasional barking. Unless the noises genuinely detract you from enjoying your peaceful abode, it’s not something to complain about.

However, if your neighbors are throwing loud raucous parties every weekend or playing music at extreme volumes while you’re trying to sleep at night, it constitutes as excessive noise. Being in a community means being cognizant and respectful of others around you. Interrupting a good night’s sleep or simply disregarding your neighbors doesn’t fit that bill.

Video

Get the council involved

  • If you have talked to your neighbour and they are still making noise you might consider getting the local authority involved. Be aware that getting the council involved will raise tensions and the dispute might get out of proportion because your neighbours could ultimately end up in court. You should also be aware that any official noisy neighbour complaints will go on record and may make it harder for you to sell your house
  • After you complain the council will send your neighbour a letter telling them that people have complained. They will not say who has complained.
  • At the same time, you will be asked to fill out a “noise diary” which logs the time and place you heard the noise and from where it came. Most importantly, the council wants to see how the noise is affecting you. The council will use your noise diary to establish a method of investigating. This might depend on you phoning somebody up who will come round to hear the noise or they might install noise monitoring equipment
  • If the noise does not stop after they have warned your neighbours, then the council might suggest mediation (see below). If that does not work, or if the council decides mediation is not a constructive route forward, they might take other, official, action
  • If the council agrees with you, and the noise is a deemed a “statutory nuisance” (ie that it is a nuisance under law), they can issue an “abatement notice” which tells your neighbour that unless they stop they will be prosecuted and might end up with a fine of £5,000 for domestic premises and £20,000 for industrial or commercial premises. If the council follows this process, it can take some time, because the council has to establish how much of a nuisance your neighbours are being without living with you all the time

Ask Neighbors About the Details of the Recent Complaint

If the person next door or the landlord has a complaint about your behavior, you should ask them for details. For instance, ask for the date and time when the issue occurred and how it affected them. Sometimes, a neighbor will knock on your door and complain directly to you. You can tell them you need to think about the problem. After a few days, you’ll answer it. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to them in person, you can write a note or take a friend with you as support.

How do you deal with noise as a homeowner?

Dealing with noisy neighbours is a touchy subject for homeowners. You and your neighbours are probably stuck together for the long term. Since you have no choice but to live next to each other, it’s best to avoid a protracted dispute.

If your neighbour is making an unreasonable amount of noise, here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Speak to them directly (if you’re comfortable with it). Often, people simply don’t realize how much of a racket they’re making. If you speak to your neighbour, make sure to keep things friendly; don’t be confrontational.

    Be specific about the issue you’re raising. If the noise is an ongoing problem, take the time to record instances of the noise over several days. These records show your neighbour that you’re serious, and they may come in handy later if things escalate.

    Finally, offer some reasonable solutions or compromises. Remember, your neighbour has the right to enjoy their home (within reason) just as you do. Depending on what they were doing that caused the noise, you could ask them to limit their activities to certain hours or suggest that they move the activities indoors.

  2. But what if your neighbour doesn’t quiet down after you speak to them?

  3. In the case of a single incident, like a house party, it may be time to report them, either to the city bylaw office or the police non-emergency line. If your city accepts noise complaints (and the office is open), it’s best to contact them before going to the police; calling the police should be a last resort.

    If it’s an ongoing noise problem, you may instead wish to offer your neighbour a firm warning: you’re not taking legal action yet, but you will if they don’t address the issue. It helps if you can point to specific noise bylaws that they’re violating. This may help them realize their noise is a serious issue and they could face legal consequences.

  4. If the problem still continues, you might have no choice but to take legal action.

    Suing your neighbour for nuisance is the nuclear option. It will cost a lot of money, and success isn’t guaranteed. As well, legal disputes can drag on for months. That said, if you’ve exhausted your other options, hiring a lawyer may be the only thing you can do.

    If you’re a Square One customer with legal protection coverage, the legal fees for pursuing a civil case against your neighbour are covered under your policy.

If you’d rather avoid any sort of confrontation (or your neighbourhood is just naturally noisy), you could also do some DIY noise dampening. There are plenty of options for your home that might reduce noise from outside, including acoustic panels or soundproof insulation. These are also worth considering if your neighbourhood experiences noise pollution from trains, traffic, or other sources that aren’t likely to go away.

Some suggestions

You could go some way towards them – as I am sure you don’t really want them hearing everything you do.

For example, if you don’t already do this, take off your shoes when at home and either walk around in bare feet or wear slippers (this is probably better for your feet anyway and a lot more comfortable – I never wear shoes indoors).

If the property has wooden floors you could also ask your landlord to provide carpets or maybe a large rug to put on top of a thin carpet.

Sound insulation

However what is probably needed is some proper sound insulation. I doubt your landlord will be willing to provide this and it is not something you are entitled to do yourself (even if you wanted to) as no doubt your tenancy agreement will prohibit carrying out any alterations.

There is though nothing to stop your neighbours (who own their flat) from installing sound insulation perhaps on their ceiling. I expect they don’t want to pay for it though.

Can I Call The Police If My Neighbors Are Too Loud? 

If you don’t have a landlord or an HOA that you can write to, there’s another way to get the peace and quiet you want. If the noise complaint is severe enough, you’ve tried to get them to cease, and they are just not letting up, you can call the police on them. 

However, you can’t just call 911. 911 is a hotline reserved explicitly for emergencies, and a noise complaint isn’t an emergency. To call the right police group, use your local non-emergency line instead and explain the situation. 

The only time you should call 911 for a noise complaint is if you hear sounds that suggest domestic violence. Domestic violence is a criminal matter, and a person’s life could potentially be at risk. If you hear noise that sounds like a fight breaking out, please call 911! 

Before Taking Action

Before you decide to take matters into your own hands and call someone to make apartment noise complaints, ensure you:

  • Review your lease agreement to familiarize yourself with what exactly constitutes a noise violation. You will probably be able to find details about things like quiet hours and audio/TV volumes restrictions there.
  • Go through your city/municipality’s ordinances and laws that forbid unreasonable and excessive noise levels.
  • Keep a written record of the type and time of noise your neighbors are disturbing you with. This will help the police, or your property manager, have a clear picture of what is going on and enforce lease rules.

Can I Get Evicted if the Neighbors Complain About the Noise From My Apartment?

One of the responsibilities of a landlord is to address and discuss all issues and complaints with their tenant. They should inspect and determine whether the noise complaint is justifiable and act accordingly. This means that they can evict you. Usually, landlords give their tenants a probation period to see if the behavior changes. If it doesn’t, they will probably have to look for a new tenant.

Dealing With Noisy Neighbors

So, you’ve taken things into consideration, and you’re pretty sure you have a problem. Now, what do you do? How should you deal with your noisy neighbors? Here’s what you should do to make sure things get quashed, fast.

  1. Before you do anything, politely approach them and ask them to tone it down. Most neighbors don’t realize how much noise they make until people tell them to knock it off. Ask them nicely, and you’ll probably be able to nip the issue in the bud.
  2. Ask yourself if you can just take a walk. This is clearly just a temporary fix, but sometimes, it’s better to be reasonable. For example, if your neighbors’ noise is due to a Sweet 16, it might be better to leave the kids to have their fun for the night. 
  3. Ask yourself if this is going to be a regular occurrence. If your neighbors are currently working day and night on a home remodeling project, you might decide to bear it. These kinds of situations will eventually solve themselves once their project is finished.
  4. Look up local laws. If they’re breaking noise ordinances regularly and talks haven’t helped, you might be able to give a landlord, an HOA, or police a heads up. From there, you can figure out what to do and what your best option could be.

Taking your neighbour to court

  • If the council decides not to intervene you can take your neighbours to court
  • You must have tried to deal with the problem in all other ways before doing this
  • If you decide you would like to take your neighbours to court you should seek legal advice from a lawyer

Tips on How to Make Your Apartment Quieter

If thin walls are the root of the problem, and you cannot speak, walk, listen to music, or watch TV without constant complaining, then you should undertake specific measures to ensure peace in your own home. Some of them include:

  • Position a piece of furniture, like a bookshelf – it will act as a second wall
  • If you find a hole, fill it with glue
  • Use soundproofing blankets
  • Place foam mats
  • Use acoustic foams
  • Paint the walls with soundproofing paint if there’s not much noise

Making Apartment Noise Complaints

If you feel you must make complaints about apartment noise on a more formal level, you can file a noise complaint to the landlord or, as a last resort, to the police. Noise disturbances can be communicated with your property manager if they take place during business hours or the police if they occur after hours. Ensure you use the non-emergency line (not 911) unless you wish to report criminal activities or suspicious behaviors.

Note that although you can make complaints about apartment noise anonymously, it is best that your apartment noise complaint letter or claim has your name under it. It will help officers substantiate your complaint and make sure there is someone to testify if things lead to an eviction process (though, quite rare because it is difficult to prove that the noise level has exceeded the one described by apartment noise laws – most issues of this type are usually resolved amicably).

Following is an apartment noise complaint letter for your reference. It includes 2 Sample Letters of a Complaint about Apartment Noise.  There you need to include as many details as possible (i.e., the time, type of noise, which apartment the noise was coming form, whether the police responded, etc.).

Note: Remember that landlords always favor 3rd party substantiation – the more fellow renters you get to join the complaints about apartment noise, the more you give the landlord power to act on the complaints.

Read related articles

Check out these related articles:

Possible Reasons Why Your Neighbor’s Complaining About Noise

Different people find different noises irritating and disrupting. In the table below, you can see various types of loud noises that are the most common reasons for complaints:

Reasons for ComplaintsExplanation
Loud musicPlaying instruments, singing karaoke, or turning up the volume when listening to music are the most common reasons people write letters to complain to neighbors about noise. You shouldn’t stop doing what you love, but you should consider turning the volume down a bit
PartiesPeople usually throw parties during the night, which is one of the main reasons they bother so many people. If you love having parties and don’t intend to give this up, consider throwing them on the weekends and notifying your neighbors in advance
Loud petsYour neighbors may love dogs, but they don’t find them that cute once they start barking and howling. If you have a dog that can’t stop barking at night or when you leave it to go to work, you should train it or get a pet sitter when you have to go out
Crying or screaming childrenEven if your neighbors have kids of their own, they probably won’t find it entertaining when your toddler starts screaming at the top of their lungs. Kids are unpredictable, and there is not much you can do. Take your children to the park, let them run and scream, and try to calm them down when the shouting starts at home
Construction workMaybe the most annoying of all the loud noises is the sound of drilling on a Saturday morning. Unfortunately, when you’re renovating, there is not much you can do about the noise. You can ask your neighbors, at least the nearest ones, about the time of the day they mind the contraction work the least

4. Bear gifts

To solve ongoing issues, there’s sometimes nothing like a plate of brownies or chocolate chip cookies. It’s hard to be angry at someone offering a delicious treat. That may take planning, but being thoughtful and a considerate neighbor can be a huge help.

4. Compromise

Any healthy relationship features a compromise or two. Your relationship with your neighbor is no exception. Suggest a compromise alongside your noise complaint. For example, if your neighbor is in a band that practices every night, suggest that they don’t practice after a certain time (like your bedtime). 

This will likely yield much better results than if you tell your neighbor they can’t practice at all. Asking your neighbor to compromise with you won’t hurt your relationship and comes from a place of mutual respect.

2. Politely talk to your neighbor

Going next door or down the hall doesn’t mean confrontation. Introduce yourself. Keep your tone and body language calm. Get to the point quickly. If you have children, don’t be shy about mentioning them. There aren’t many people who want to disturb a young child’s sleep.

Above all, keep your cool. Remember that some people may not realize that they are being noisy. Most people are likely to cooperate, particularly if someone smiles when they’re asking them to turn down the decibels. A little humor at the right times can help, as well.

What Sorts of Annoying Neighbors Exist?

Most annoying neighbors can be placed in three categories: slightly annoying; inconsiderate; and trashy. Let’s look at each category and explore possible plans of action for how to get rid of bad neighbors that rent.

1. Slightly Annoying Neighbors

Examples of slightly annoying neighbors include ill-mannered or mischievous children, neighbors who violate parking restrictions, and irresponsible pet owners who neglect to clean up after their four-legged pals, who use the community’s green space as their restroom.

How to Deal With Them

How to Deal With Them

Introduce yourself and share your concerns with your neighbors. Sometimes just making someone’s acquaintance makes confronting complicated issues much easier, especially when you’re neighbors.

One of the most common errors in neighbor relations coming across as accusatory when you’re just venting your frustration. Instead, try simply stating that you are disturbed and/or upset by some of their behaviors or actions. Do what you can to keep the dialogue cordial and polite. Appear open to understanding the reasons behind your neighbor’s bad behavior, and offer support in implementing a solution.

A psychological trick that sometimes works is reflecting the behavior you’re experiencing from your neighbor towards them in an effort to help them recognize how their behavior impacts you. Unfortunately, this strategy can further sour the relationship with your neighbor, so you may want to think twice before doing this.

If you and your neighbor are struggling to find common ground, finding a mediator may be a good solution. Mediators can help solve situations so that both sides benefit. If you rent and are comfortable doing so, ask your landlord if they would be willing to help mediate in an effort to find a win-win for both parties.

Sometimes the power of the pen is all you need to get the unwanted behaviors to cease.  Writing a simple warning letter letting your neighbor know that you’ll be contacting authorities or the landlord is enough to stop your annoying neighbors from bothering you.

2. Inconsiderate Neighbors

Examples of inconsiderate neighbors include loud and rowdy party animals who are noisy 24/7 or the rock band that finds it necessary to practice in their garage studio at 2 a.m. on weekdays.

How to Deal With Them

There’s strength in numbers, and more likely than not you’re not the only person in your neighborhood who is bothered by the unwanted activity. Check with other neighbors to see if anyone else is bothered and if they’d be willing to support you in confronting the troublesome neighbor. In some cases, you can leverage a large group to bring in local law enforcement to formally address the issue.

Most individuals don’t like to complain or file reports on others, yet, sometimes, this is the only fruitful solution. If your neighbors have a different property manager or landlord than you, consider reaching out to the company or the landlord to raise your complaint about their tenant.

Homeowners associations (or HOAs), are an effective means for addressing neighborhood concerns. An association manager could talk to the neighbor at the heart of the discord and address the matter in a way that the reporter can remain anonymous.

3. Difficult Neighbors

They’re the aforementioned neighbors, as well as anyone that complicates your life. Difficult neighbors might range from raucous parties to folks who allow their dog to waste itself in your yard. Rarely, a problematic neighbor will build a home designed to irritate you. These are called spite houses, and their owners are not friendly.

How to Deal With Them

How to Deal With Them

Document any suspicious activities and alert local authorities to investigate further.  Another alternative is to draft a petition to have the stupid neighbors removed. Present it to the landlord or HOA once you’ve collected all the signatures.

In some circumstances, the best choice is to move to another neighborhood. This is especially true if you have tried different techniques to fix the problem, but nothing has helped.

Please help us be there for older people in need

By donating today, you could help us answer more calls to our advice line, campaign harder for older people’s rights and fair treatment and provide regular friendship calls to people who are desperately lonely.

Tags