Looking for ways to handle noisy neighbors? Whether you’re dealing with thin apartment walls or looking for tips on how to talk to your neighbors about noise, check out our tips for how to deal with loud neighbors.
Conflict is never fun, but it can be resolved peacefully. While dealing with disruptive apartment neighbors can be tricky, here are some tips for handling your noisy neighbors in healthy, legal ways.
Take a Breath
Whether it’s constant thumping from upstairs neighbors or music blaring through the walls next door, your first instinct might be to respond angrily. But before doing anything, take a calming breath and assess. Lashing out may end up escalating the situation, creating even more noise disturbances for others to suffer through. Loud neighbors may be a pain for apartment dwellers, but it’s always best to handle these situations with a level head.
Talk It Out With Your Neighbor
The best way to resolve issues with a noisy neighbor is also the simplest—speak to them about it directly. They may be unaware of how much noise they’re making, and a polite conversation about what you’re hearing may be all it takes to fix the issue. Discuss your sleeping schedules and which hours you need quiet. From there, try to come up with a compromise regarding quiet hours. Speaking with a neighbor face-to-face about an issue isn’t easy, especially if you’re shy or non-confrontational—but it’s best to try to resolve the conflict directly before resorting to other avenues.
Document Noise Disturbances
Unfortunately, a mature conversation sometimes isn’t enough to get a loud neighbor to keep it down. Start building a case to bring to the property manager by noting any noise disturbances you experience, and the times they occur. If possible, try to record a sample of the noises with your phone or another recording device. A few recordings with timestamps should be enough to demonstrate your neighbor is being disruptive.
Chat with other neighbors to see if they’ve noticed the same disturbances. For example, if your neighbors are blasting music all night, it’s likely you’re not the only one whose sleep is being disrupted. Testimony from multiple residents can give management a better sense of the problem’s scale and increase the chances of them stepping in to resolve the issue.
Consult Your Property Manager
Once you’ve documented your neighbor’s noisiness, set up an appointment with your property manager to talk about how to move forward. It’s likely that they’ve dealt with this issue before, and will be able to provide tips for conflict resolution and review a copy of the lease with you. Many apartment complexes have a covenant of quiet enjoyment written into their leases to protect their tenants’ right to live undisturbed by their neighbors. Present your manager with the evidence you collected and discuss whether they’re in violation of your complex’s lease.
File a Noise Complaint
Before filing a noise complaint, check to see what constitutes a noise violation in your city by looking into your local noise ordinance. If the disturbance is a legal violation, the property manager can send your neighbor a formal warning—or in extreme cases, start the eviction process. Some communities have websites that allow you to file a noise complaint anonymously if you’d prefer not to have your name attached to the form. Filing a complaint with the police doesn’t require you to list your name at all.
Contact Police as a Last Resort
Only contact the police only as a very last resort, or if you suspect your neighbor’s noise violations are an indication of violent or criminal activity. You should never call 911 to settle simple matters like noise disputes, as the line is for police emergencies only. If you must, call your local non-emergency line instead to file your complaint. The attending officer can then help you determine whether your neighbor is in violation of local noise ordinances. If your neighbor continues with their disruptions, they could possibly incur a fine or even misdemeanor charges, depending on the severity of the offense.
Depending on how cooperative they are, dealing with a noisy neighbor can take some time to resolve. Fortunately, there are plenty of renter-friendly ways to reduce noise coming into your unit in the meantime or until your lease is up.
Use Soft Furnishings
Sometimes, the walls and floors in apartment complexes are just too thin to block the sound of your neighbor’s activity. Adding a layer of thick material like wall tapestries or floor rugs can help absorb sound traveling into your apartment from adjacent units, while also serving as a great way to decorate your apartment!
Set Up Bookshelves
If the disturbances are coming from next-door neighbors in particular, setting up wooden bookshelves can also help reduce noise. The wooden shelves—which absorb sound better than plastic or metal—along with the books that fill the negative space, create a thick barrier to increase sound absorption—almost like a second wall!
Install Soundproof Curtains or Window Treatments
Replacing your regular curtains or blinds with soundproof curtains is a great way to reduce environmental noise coming through your windows. Made with thick, opaque material, these curtains can increase your sense of privacy while providing some extra insulation. Another option to consider is acoustic window inserts, which add an extra layer of sound-absorbing materials to your curtains, limiting incoming noise by up to 70%.
Use Door Draft Stoppers or Rubber Door Seals
Door draft stoppers are another renter-friendly option for soundproofing an apartment. If you have a space between the bottom of your door and the floor, seal the gap with a draft-stopper and lessen the amount of noise that enters from the other side of the door. Or create the same effect with a rubber door seal attached to the bottom of your door.
Invest In a White Noise Machine or App
White noise machines emit a steady sound similar to TV static that can mask disruptive sounds in your apartment complex and help you sleep more soundly. If you don’t want to invest in a physical machine, there are plenty of white noise apps available for mobile devices, and even white noise tracks on audio streaming services like Spotify.
Use Noise-Cancelling Headphones or Earplugs
If disturbances from your neighbors prevent you from concentrating on your work, entertainment, or hobbies, noise-cancelling headphones with active noise cancellation technology can block out ambient sound and allow you to focus. Or, wear noise-cancelling earplugs as a smaller alternative to help you sleep through your neighbor’s disruptions.
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