Noisy Neighbors: What to Do After Multiple Complaints

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Noisy Neighbors: What to Do After Multiple Complaints

Hana Ames · Nov 5, 2020
Woman screams through the wall of her apartment as her noisy neighbor blasts television.

People are more likely to have disputes with their neighbors than anyone else, and the most common cause of those disputes is noise.

Many of us, whether we’re homeowners or renters, have dealt with noisy neighbors at some point in our lives. This can be an issue of a household down the street making a lot of noise, or people in an apartment above or next to others disturbing the peace and quiet of those who live in the same building.

Sometimes issues like these can be resolved by actually speaking to the neighbors — after all, they may not even be aware that there’s a problem to begin with. Of course, this tactic doesn’t always work, and sometimes you may have to take further action. Many who are up against unreasonable noise from neighbors take any and all of the following actions to ensure their complaints are heard:

Call the Police

At first, you might just call the local police on a neighbor for a serious noise violation, such as one that makes you fear that someone is in danger (i.e. gun shots, the sounds of objects being thrown or breaking, shouting, and fighting). The police should always be called on these occasions, just to ensure that nobody is being harmed. However, for general noise complaints, this may not necessarily be effective. The police might tell you that the issue is a “civil situation,” and they may stop coming to repeated calls.

Talk to the Landlord or Property Manager

If the police aren’t willing to cite a neighbor for being too loud, they’ll probably ask the complainers to contact the landlord or property manager if the loud party is renting rather than paying a mortgage on a home. This is an especially good idea since they may even speak to the neighbors on your behalf. Even if you’ve already tried to talk to them directly, it may have more clout coming from someone official. Alternatively, the landlord may act as a mediator in helping you and your neighbors come to a resolution.

Talk to Your Neighbor Directly

Apartment neighbors fight over repeated noise complaints.

It’s often a good idea to let the guilty parties know directly that actions are pending against them. Of course, you may not have wanted to talk to your neighbor during the first few noise violations, as it’s often more convenient (and less intimidating) to let someone else speak for you. Alternatively, you may have tried to speak to them several times to no avail. Either way, if you’re going to pursue further action, your loud neighbors are going to figure it out at some point, and the fastest way to resolve the situation could very well be to deal with them up-front. After all, the thought of imminent legal action against them may be enough to get them to hush.

Document the Noise

One of the next steps for any further action is to do all you can to document the noise situation. This can take any of a number of creative forms including audiotapes, videos, or eyewitness testimony from other neighbors. In the age of the smartphone, there really isn’t a limit to how you can capture loud noises. You can even get specific apps that record decibel levels, if you want to get super technical about it. You should also document every interaction you have with your neighbor where you may have asked them to keep it down. This will help for future steps.

Visit Your Local Government

It’s important for those seeking resolution on noise issues to know that in almost all cases, there is a local government board that runs the local police department. These municipal governments have local ordinances in place against noise, and going in front of one may be your best course of action for pursuing enforcement on noise issues.

Take Your Case to Small-Claims Court

Young woman covering ears with pillow while trying to sleep in bed at home.

If the local government board is unresponsive to your problems, you always have the alternative of taking your case to a local small-claims court, where you can even represent yourself to avoid sky-high attorney costs. You won’t be able to sue for a large dollar amount, but you will get the noise violations exposed at a high level.

To win, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that:

  • There is excessive and disturbing noise — this is where your documentation will come in handy.
  • The person you are suing is either creating the noise or is the landlord and therefore contractually responsible for the noise.
  • Your enjoyment of your home is affected.
  • You have asked the person to stop the noise but they have not.

As mentioned above, in some cases, you may also be able to bring suit against your landlord for possible violations of the intent of the lease document, where renters are often guaranteed reasonable peace and quiet in their homes. You’ll more than likely have to show that you’ve contacted the landlord about the noise and that they have failed to do anything.

If you have problems with a noisy neighbor, the above steps can help you bring repeated violations to a successful resolution.

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