Handling noisy neighbors without being passive-aggressive

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LOUD speaker

Hannah wrote in to ask us about her apartment dilemma:

Offbeat Homies, How do you deal with noisy neighbours?

We frequently hear a kid crying, people arguing and loud music during the day and evening. It’s can be very disturbing — I’m a full time student and at home during a large part of the day.

I don’t want to be a cranky neighbour. I haven’t met the people but I don’t know how to approach them!

Noisy neighbors can be such a pain. I never wanted my neighbors to think I was an overly-sensitive stick in the mud, and sometimes even when you talk to the noisemakers they shrug you off. And we’ve probably all been the noisy ones at some point — nothing like a bleary-eyed neighbor knocking on the door when you thought your Rock Band drumming wasn’t disturbing a soul.

What plan of action would you put together for Hannah, a perturbed neighbor who wants to be pleasant, but who hasn’t even met the offenders?

Comments on Handling noisy neighbors without being passive-aggressive

  1. i’m certainly no expert in this type of thing, but i would for sure think that, whatever you end up doing, you shouldn’t mention the crying kids. the parents can’t do much to control it and they’re probably as frustrated with it as you are. but as for the loud music and arguing, go for it.

  2. Perhaps you could try to find some way to meet them and have a general talk so it doesn’t seem like the only reason you’ve ever talked to them is a complaint. You could find a time to mention it then.

    I would also separate controllable noise from things they can’t really help. I once had a neighbor call the police because my colicky baby was crying all day and all night. I felt awful that our kid was keeping her awake, but c’mon… if there was anything I could have done to stop the crying, I would have.

  3. Could you ask the landlord to talk to those people? Or is that too much like running to “mom” to fix the situation?

    Invest in some good headphones? 🙂

  4. This is what landlords are for (assuming you’re in an apartment). They have the authority to actually ask them to quiet down, and you don’t have to be the bad guy or be singled out (especially since other neighbors are probably annoyed to.) People will resent being criticized no matter how nicely you put it, but at least they HAVE to listen to the landlord.

    • My landlord has done nothing he ignores my texts and phone calls. He doesnt care as long as he gets rent. He tried to evict me on grounds that I complain to much. My neighbor gets her two girls from exhusband and she doesnt have custody. Mom and girls follow me around running jumping stomping etc. Found out shes on sec8 turned her in girls arent on lease. Now moms mad cause girls cant live w her anymore. She has 3 month infant that she leaves alone in apt hrs at a time. Every Fri nite someone comes and uses a rolling pin for abt three hrs straight. I suspect they are crushing pills to make meth. I dont have money to move and dont want to lose security deposits. My lease is up end of Nov.

  5. having just moved from the ‘burbs to smack-dab in the middle of sf, i can sympathize. our walls are paper thin and it took only three nights to realize we needed to move our bedroom to an outer wall. we invested in some earplugs and, frankly, just deal with it during ‘normal’ operating hours. comes with the territory, i guess. we’ve got a weekly sunday morning soul-fest to look forward to, courtesy of the kids across the street!

    for legit, post-10pm rudeness, here’s a sneaky move i’ve used in the past: knock on the door during the day and introduce yourself. let them know you’re having a few guests over for dinner. hand over your phone number and ask them to call you if you get too loud. hopefully, they’ll get the hint and trade theirs, too. then you don’t have to get out of bed to let them know you can hear every word.

  6. I have lived in apartments all my live, so I’ve had pretty much all types of neighbours I guess…
    The noisy, but friendly ones: We really started off badly here, right the day he moved in he kept moving his furniture all night so at some point my father went up and asked him politely to stop doing that until the next day. He hadn’t realised we could hear it so he stopped immediately. The next day my father went up again to welcome him, to make sure our neighbour knew he wasn’t angry or anything. He told me how you could really see how the boy (he had probably just moved out from home) thought “oh no, that guy again, what did I do wrong this time?” but seemed really happy when he heard that my father just wanted to introduce himself. From that point on problems weren’t completely over, after all it was still a young guy who just moved out from home and enjoyed throwing parties, but we had his phone number and I actually could call up to say “hey, right now I don’t mind the noise but I’ll go to bed in half an hour, just so you know that I’d like some silence at that point” and we’d all be happy.
    Then he moved out and another guy moved in. He was of the shrugging kind: “Hey, I noticed you installed that clock that makes a noise every half hour… we can hear that as if it’d be in our apartment because the wall carries the sound.” “So? That’s what it’s for, to hear what time it is.” – Well, I thought, if he doesn’t want to show some friendliness and respect I’ll simply show him that we have been doing that up to now, but could stop if he doesn’t at least try to be a good neighbour. I listened to some loud music for the next half hour and never heard that clock again. Our relationship was strained, but at least he knew that there were some boundaries everyone should respect in order to live that close.
    Finally I’ve lived next to the violent kind: Not only did he not care what we heard or how loud we heard it, he threatened us, especially if he was drunk, and once actually pounded at our door angrily, threatening to break it. We called the police who told us they couldn’t do anything before something had actually happened, but gave us the advice to move out, since he was obviously dangerous when drunk. We took that advice, which was a pity because the apartment was really nice, but in some cases there’s just no other solution.
    Long comment short conclusion: If possible, speak with the people, introduce yourself, make clear you mean no harm and want to have a good relation with your neighbours. If they want to have that as well they’ll understand and you’ll get along just fine. If they don’t listen and don’t care about your needs, make clear that mutual respect is necessary and that you as well try to behave nice – but don’t have to. Finally if there’s nothing to be done about your neighbours and you simply can’t get along, move out or you’ll never be happy.

      • I’m dealing with this right now and from my experience, there’s no easy or nice way of dealing with it. I work 3rd shift and live in the suburbs. Despite sleeping in a basement with fans running, the sounds of the neighbors’ dogs and lawn mowers constantly wake me up. I’ve tried talking to them and all I usually get is, “Dogs bark, that’s what they do.” You can’t make peace with ignorant people that can’t even be bothered to take care of their dogs. You’ve got mortgage and so do they likely, so nobody wants to move. You’re only option is to make their lives so much of a living hell that they back off. You’ve got to freak them out to the point that they don’t want to start trouble with you and most importantly, you have to play the stupid game within the lines of the law.

        Do your research and find out all the local ordinances. For example, where I live there is a fireworks ordinance that allows you to fire them off on the nights before and after any major holiday until 1 AM. I’ve purchased the loudest legal fireworks in the area and during each major holiday, I have fireworks going of from midnight to 1 AM for three days. Is it a dick move? Yes, but so is mowing your lawn around noon every week when you know your neighbor works 3rd shift or leaving your dog outside for hours on end to just sit there and bark.

        In addition to this, put up some security cameras because now you’ve got a full on war with the neighbors. When they finally do something illegal, nail them to the wall with it. Call the police on them every chance you get. Sure the cops will start to get annoyed with you, but their more likely to take that anger out on the neighbors that they keep having to visit. Another tip for dealing with the police; get everything on tape. Some cops may try to turn things around on you or attempt to write you some trumped up ticket. Bear in mind you’ll now be fighting a war on multiple fronts, but that’s always a risk when bringing in the police.

        In the end you’ll never win a fight like this, but at least if you draw a line in the sand, most neighbors should be less willing to deal with the hassle of making an enemy of the folks in that particular house on the block. Is this terrible advice? Yes, but when dealing with terrible people you have to be willing to be more terrible than they are. The phrase ‘Nice guys finish last’ exists for a reason. When you ask them nicely to keep it down and they continue to make noise, that doesn’t mean that they forgot. It means they think you’re a chump. Don’t be a door mat. If one noisy neighbor makes you move, then prepare to have that moving truck on speed dial, because you can’t spit now-a-days without hitting a loud neighbor that feels entitled to be as loud as they want.

  7. Most problems with neighbors can be avoided with this simple trick:

    -Know where their common room and bedroom are, and let them know where yours are as well.

    We don’t want to tell people how to live their lives, but if they could have their noisy sex/arguments in a different room then the one just next to where you are studying/sleeping, everyone might feel way better.
    Exchanging this info worked for me in 2 different apartments, I’m always going to do that from now on!

  8. Whatever people do, please don’t be the asshole that pounds on the walls/floor/ceiling/what-have-you. I’d rather have someone knock on my door and yell in my face than pound on the floor with a broomstick, especially since there’s no reason to know what you’re actually thinking when you do that. “Do you not think I should be making any noise at all right now? Do you not like this particular noise? Is it just a little too loud? Way too loud? Do you have a sick child trying to sleep?”

    • This! At our old apartment we would get a knock on the wall every time my husband and I tried to sit in bed and TALK let alone do anything else! Hell, if you keep knocking just because I’m holding a quiet conversation I’m not going to give a damn about the knocking when I’m knocking ;).

      • I had a neighbor who would do this when I listened to music (quietly!) on my computer. One day he angrily came over to my apartment. I don’t know what he was expecting, but when he saw li’l ol’ me at the door, he seemed surprised. He said, “Your music is way too loud!” and I said, “Well, I’m listening to some classical music right now” (I actually was) “and it’s not that loud. Would you like to come into my computer room and see for yourself?”

        He never banged on my wall again.

        • Sometimes sound plays weird tricks. The landlord talked too me about being too loud at our last apartment after a quiet night of watching regular television. The whole building was weird — people complained about two other friends’ non-existent parties.

    • Honestly I’d just assume they were moving furniture or something and it kept banging on the wall. Definately not the best form of communication.

    • I would say yes to this, but with my downstairs neighbor it’s the only option. I’ve talked to him in person a few times but every time he got weirder and weirder, and ruder and ruder, and I’m a small woman and my roommates aren’t always at home. At least if I just bang on the floor I don’t have to deal personally with someone I don’t believe is trustworthy.

    • To that I would say fuck off, well not the first couple of times but the people that live in the flat below us play loud music at random times, we never complain on the weekends but they will suddenly just put on really loud music at 2-3 or even 4 in the morning (on a Tuesday!) and I have been down before to politely ask them to turn it down so they know what is too loud. At that point I bang on the floor, I was just woken up and its freezing and there is no way in hell I am getting up and dressed to walk down there and tell them to turn it down(yet again). The landlord has done nothing and in the UK I guess the police can’t do much either. So I guess I am one of those assholes.

      • I’m in the same boat you are. My neighbors are Latino’s and they are very rude. They love them some church preaching at 4 and 5 am every day, so loud that Jesus himself can hear it. My landlady had giving them notices after notices but they don’t care. My landlady is also a people-pleaser so that doesn’t help much. The police just told them to keep it down and if I would like, I can have this taken to court. It’s so tempting. So I guess I am one of those asshole’s too.

    • While moving in my neighbor stood in front of me blocking my doorway while I was carrying a heavy box and demanded that I tell her who was moving in. Felt like telling her to fuck off but told her it was me. She basically told me Id have to put up with the noise girls are only here on wkends and it bed by 9:30pm, all lies. Landlord told me he only wanted to rent to no more than two adults. And rented apt to me w a pregnant woman an two kids. Its a small one bedroom ans walls and floors are like paper. Cant wait till lease is up. Neighbor has keyed my car for complaining abt her.

  9. Oh goodness, I had this problem, with my friends of all people, when we moved into an on-campus apartment together last year. Despite knowing I had sensitive hearing and an early bedtime due to student teaching, they insisted on having the TV turned up loud late at night, and gave me a hard time when I asked them to quiet down. There wasn’t much I could do to stop it aside from try asking politely, but I did discover a few tricks to minimize the noise:

    – Rolled up towel under the door, as there was a 1″ gap there.
    -I had a lofted bed, and took a couple old heavy blankets, folded them in half, and hung them from the ceiling around my bed to muffle out the noise. This was also nice to block out light from the window.
    -After doing some research, I started taking melatonin about an hour before bedtime, which really helped.

    The best advice I can think of though, at least for myself, is do some investigation on how well sound carries in the building before moving in, or don’t live in an apartment at all if you can avoid it.

    • Not living in an apartment doesn’t always help, especially if your neighbors enjoy playing really crappy rap music at full volume and shouting drunkenly in their backyard.

      Ask how I know. -_-

  10. I am in the current situation right now. We have a neighbor up above that we call “Stompy McStomperton” or Fred Flinstone Feet, because he walks around ALL THE TIME. Im staying at home right now because I don’t have a job, and I can attest to the fact that hes up at 9am, hes up at 11am…hey he just slammed the door RIGHT NOW. And he was up stomping at 3am. We had to move from the master bedroom to the guest room which SUCKS because that room buts up against a garage, so if those people leave, we get to hear their comings and goings, thank goodness they are only there once in a while.

    I’ve lived before where I’ve used a broom on the ceiling or stomped on the floor and all that does is piss people off and you get dog shit on your door – no lie. So this time I went straight to the apartment manager. It took three times, but he is somewhat quieter…And when I talked to them I simply said, look, I dont want this guy to hate us, he has every right to live in his apartment too, and walk around but this guy does it ALL THE TIME and for Christ’s sake, I need some sleep. They are obligated to let them know. Let them be your liasion. I dont care if its crying to mommy, it really is better than dog shit on your doorhandle. Besides, sometimes it’s akward as hell to go up or downstairs at 3 in the morning. I mean I’m in my skivvies and my hair is all crazy!

    If we’re lucky we move out in four months. I. CANNOT. FREAKING. WAIT! 🙂

  11. I have neighbors above me whose music is horribly loud, especially because they love them some wall shaking bass…

    At any rate, my first step was to go and ask them myself if they wouldn’t mind turning it down a bit. I very calmly and politely explained that their music could be heard very clearly in my apartment when I was trying to sleep, and if they wouldn’t mind keeping it down, that’d be great.

    That worked for…. eh, 3 or 4 days.

    That’s when I got the landlords involved. I called them and let them know that I was having trouble with noise with the neighbors above me. I was the third complaint that they had gotten, evidently. I kept a record of the times of day their music (and arguing, some days) was loudest and when it bothered me most. The consistent pattern showed that most of it was happening at 10 pm to 2 am, from both me and the other neighbors complaining.

    The landlords spoke with the noisy neighbors and told them that they would need to find a new apartment (yay for lease-free renting in Sweden) in a new building, if they couldn’t learn to get along with the rest of us, when we’d already asked nicely for them to keep it down.

    Needless to say, we aren’t exactly friendly with these particular neighbors anymore (they think we’re tattle tales; we’re appreciating the sleep), but getting the landlords involved really does help.

    NOTE: If you live in the U.S. and you’re hearing consistent, loud arguing, night after night, call the cops AND the landlords. It could be a domestic abuse situation, and even if it isn’t, the neighbors are more likely to learn to keep their dirty laundry quieter when they have the cops on their door step.

    • That’s pretty much exactly what I do/did. Our upstairs neighbors are a couple of college kids who are prone to both loud parties, drunken screaming and laughter in the middle of the work week (between 11 PM and 4 AM) and the occasional violent domestic dispute.

      We went up to speak to them politely in person a lot, then tried calling the landlord, then tried calling the cops (when one of them was clearly beating on the other one). The last time I heard them partying in the middle of the night, I went up and was extremely rude and sarcastic (in a non name-calling, non-threatening way).

      Now I just keep a record of whenever I hear them after 11 PM. The landlord has heard from me enough about them that she’s pretty fed up with them, too. Unfortunately, a lot of getting something Official done about rude and inconsiderate neighbors involves having a landlord who cares, and who is on your side.

      • One thing to consider: Your work week may not be their work week. Or work day for that matter. I don’t complain about my neighbors’ Friday night parties when I have to be at work at 8am on Saturday, or for that matter, the 10am Saturday apartment renovating when I got off work at 4am and to bed at 6am. I expect the same courtesy when I have my parties on Tuesday. That’s not to say that anyone needs to be rude, and if either party is really too disturbingly loud then something needs to be said. But judging people for having a party on Tuesday night is fairly inconsiderate.

        The crappy part about it is, I’m the one who ends up having to pay more in rent, because I’m the “offbeat” renter. I have to find the more secluded apartments, I have to rent a house to get some peace and quiet while I’m sleeping, and I’m the one whose lease gets broken by the landlord with no security deposit back because of my perfectly normal noises of cooking dinner at 3am after work without even any music on get me evicted (fortunately not in my case, but to a co-worker of mine).

  12. I would definitely go the “make friends first” route, if your neighbors are friendly types. It is easier to bring up a touchy subject in a roundabout manner if someone already likes you at least a little bit 🙂

  13. If it’s something minor like someone playing music a bit too loud or too late it’s probably best to just go round and ask, at least as a first attempt. I know we can be somewhat loud sometimes and I’ve worried about disturbing the neighbours so if anyone actually said anything I’d be willing to turn it down, and try to keep it down in future. As long as you ask nicely it shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

    Of course then theres my parents neighbours who came around at 8pm on New Years Eve and started in with “THAT is much too loud! And just how long are you expecting to keep this up?” without so much as a hello first, but then they also called the police as soon as they saw a drum kit being carried into the house instead of waiting for the presumed band practice to start. Which actually worked out better for us – the kit was just being stored there overnight, no one had so much as tapped it and they were told not to call again unless there was a real problem.

  14. We just moved in a couple of days ago and the guys across the hall moved in a day after us. Somehow their apartment comes up to where our bedroom is, so I can hear them being boys at night. It isn’t too loud considering we can hear every car pass and the car radios, but it’s good to know that we can hear them and vice versa. It helps that the one guy used to work with me, so I wouldn’t feel weird about asking them to be quieter.

  15. Best advice I can give (it worked for me!) is make friendly with the neighbors when you’re not super irritated with them. A simple greeting whenever you see them goes a long way. And, like everyone else said, if politely asking them to keep it down doesn’t work, that’s what landlords are for.

    I have a friend who would warn all her neighbors with sharing walls whenever she’d have people over – even invite them over for a beer if they’d like – and tried to make sure that they knew it would be no hassle for her to turn down the music/voice volume if they’d knock (or call, if knocking was inconvenient) and let her know if it was bugging them. She still had a neighbor who would rouse the landlord to go across the apartment complex to ask us to turn it down. Every time. Plus side? She got friendly with the landlord and he’d usually be over there with us, he ultimately realized that the complaints were mostly unfounded (a burst of laughter at a movie at 7PM was cause for a noise complaint for this particular neighbor). So the constant complaints didn’t work so well for her neighbor.

  16. My approach has always been to introduce myself, explain to them why what they are doing is disturbing my peace, study time, sleep, and then nicely ask them to stop it. I have always had pretty good results with this, I think it’s important to be polite but also very direct so they understand that they need to change the habit for good and not just for a few days. I just repeat this process as long as they are the nice type. If they are mean or don’t care, then I go to the landlords. If they are plain old aggressive I might call the cops. I have since sworn off of apartments and have moved on to duplexes, then you only have one set of neighbors to deal with 🙂

  17. I’m probably going to get jumped on for this, and I freely admit that I don’t know exactly what times you’re talking about, as you only said ‘day’ and ‘evening’…but I personally think that daytime noise is just something you have to live with. I am on the other side of this, as our neighbor that moved in about a year after us hates barking dogs, and our dog is a big loud white shepherd. But we have always made an effort to be courteous-if he’s out in the yard after about 5 p.m. when people are home, we make sure he doesn’t bark excessively, we don’t put him out at all after dark (or 7 p.m. whichever is first) so he doesn’t disturb anyone. But we’ve had the neighbor come knock on our door at 1 in the afternoon to ask us to take him in, and I feel that’s excessive. Lawnmowers are loud, kids are loud, but you don’t have the right to ask people to not mow their lawns or let their kids play. Not to mention that if they kept their 4 cats off our yard they would cut the barking in half, so I feel it’s uncalled for to complain about my animal when yours are running loose crapping all over our place. I think the same thing about your problem-asking someone to not play music during the day (and again, I don’t know if you mean ‘I can maybe sing along with it’ or ‘It’s shaking my whole place’, which is rude), not argue, not, uh, have a baby?…does kind of make you the cranky neighbor, no offense intended-as I said, just trying to show the other side a little. Night time noise, past noise curfew noise, people are screaming, music is shaking your house, dog barking excessively after about 6 p.m.? All unacceptable. But people living their lives during the day? Meh, turn your music up a little and realize that having neighbors is always going to be irritating.

    • Totally agree. Daytime noise is just apart of life. I was on the other side of many, many rediculous noise complaints. Its such a hard thing to say whats acceptable and what isn’t. But having a neighbour who called the cops anytime we had any people over on the weekend was terrible.

      • I completely understand where you are coming from, but as someone who has to work nights, there are times when i just sob from sheer exhaustion when our neighbours do DIY or the dog barks when the postman comes. i know i can’t expect the world to stop when i’m on night shift, but being awake for 48 hours straight is truly awful. i work in the children’s hospital on our street, so thankfully people are usually pretty understanding when i complain about noise at 12.30 in the afternoon. calling the police is out of order, but it might not be about you when they complain, circumstances can come in to play as well. x

        • Have you thought about investing in some earplugs? My husband is a much lighter sleeper than me, and they’ve always seen him through noisy nights at hostels and other people’s homes.Just a thought!

        • I wonder if telling one’s neighbors that they work night shift would make any difference. I live in a house in the burbs, but I did notice one of my neighbors had a sign on the door that said, “Day Sleeper”, presumably to tell any door-to-door salespeople to beat it. Don’t know if it worked, though.

        • My Mum works night shifts at the local hospital quite often. When she moved into the neighbourhood (or when someone new moves in) she went to the source of the barking dogs, explained the situation and requested they keep their dogs barking during the day. A couple of days later, she baked them some muffins to thank them.

          I ended up meeting the recipient of the muffins a couple of years later who remembered Mum. She was a bit annoyed to have to quiet her dogs, but happily surprised to receive muffins for it!

          While the world doesn’t stop for shift workers, I think a bit of politeness and explanation, followed up with kindness goes a long way 🙂

          • the dog barking was curtailed by treating the neighbour’s baby when he was sick and on my ward. aware it’s not an option for everyone, but muffins also sound awesome!

      • I used to work evenings at a hotel and graveyards at a truck stop, and asking nicely for the neighbor to not be ridiculously loud (loud tv, loud music, stomping, screaming at his girlfriend on the phone, etc) at 9am was fruitless. Calling the landlord did nothing – he told me it was unreasonable for me to expect to be able to sleep during the day. What did the trick? Doing all my noisiest housework – like vacuuming – in the middle of the night when I knew they’d been in bed for half an hour or an hour when I had a night off. Did it twice, and never had an issue with the neighbor again.

    • Agreed! When I lived with my parents in a regular suburban neighborhood, we had a guy who lived over the fence from us (our backyards were next to each other) who called Animal Control multiple times and threatened to take us to court over our dogs barking. Mind you, our dogs slept in their kennels in the garage, so this was mostly during the daytime. The guy was retired and I guess just had nothing else to do but sit around and listen to dogs bark.

    • I agree with this, too. When I was in an apartment, I got a snarky note taped to my door informing me that my downstairs neighbor could hear my music and he worked nights so I was RUDELY disturbing his sleep.

      It was perplexing to me, since I never listened to my music very loud (in a 1-bedroom apt, I couldn’t hear the music in the kitchen) and I listened to girly, indie folk music so we’re not talking rap or metal.

      But, since he wasn’t particularly nice about it, my attitude was, sorry buddy, but that’s just one of the many downsides to working nights–the rest of the world is awake and making noise.

      Of course this is an example of why passive-aggressive solutions don’t work: I later realized that he could hear my music because the computer’s subwoofer was on the floor. I moved it onto the desk, and when someone else moved in downstairs, I asked if they could hear anything and they said no.

      Had he just been nice and direct about it, I might’ve been more motivated to figure this out sooner.

    • I wholeheartedly agree with this comment too. Obviously, if these people are doing this at all hours of the night, or if the noise is VERY loud, I might think otherwise.

      I live in an old apartment in San Francisco with relatively uninsulated walls, so I’ve dealt with a lot of noise issues too, on both sides of the fence.

      We used to have some REALLY noisy neighbors who would hold concerts on their roof and party all night long. We tried talking to them but they were really rude, so we ended up having to call the cops on them when things went too late.

      But, during the day, we always hear our neighbors on either side of us. The people next to us are a family with a hyper kid and a baby. I don’t think it’s fair of us to expect them to keep their baby from crying or their kid from playing in his room. And the old lady next door plays annoying music (loud enough that we can hear it pretty clearly) from about noon to 4pm. If she were a young person, or if she wasn’t otherwise an exceptionally good neighbor, we’d probably complain…but she has a hearing problem, so the volume’s understandable.

      I don’t think there’s any reasonable, appropriate way to tell your neighbors they shouldn’t argue or allow their baby to cry during reasonable times of the day. It isn’t their fault you work from home (I do too) and I’m sure they don’t like fighting or their baby’s crying any more than you do. On the music front, however, I think the critical thing to think about is how loud it actually is. It’s possible that confronting them about it will only make it worse, so only ask them to keep it down if it is seriously a problem and really worth the risk.

    • I agree and disagree about the daytime noise. My neighbors have a dog that they leave outside all day so it barks all day. I don’t mind being woken up occasionally by the barking (I work 2nd shift, so it would be nice if I could sleep until 9am). What I mind is that the dog wakes me up at sunrise, and at noon when I leave for work, the dog is still barking. There’s the occasional 5-10 minute pause, but the barking is pretty much constant. It’s the constant part that gets to me. I understand that dogs bark, but if your dog has been barking for an hour straight you need to bring it inside.

  18. We had a couple of noisy neighbors who used to have extremely loud sex. We didn’t really mind (we’re pro satisfying sex, after all) until they woke us up at two-thirty AM on a weekday.

    In a fit of evil genius, I hopped on top of my boyfriend and started slamming the bed up against the wall, clapping my hands together and encouraging him to “Take it.” I also suggested that he liked it and offered a suggestion as to his new name. The boyfriend immediately commenced some very high-pitched squealing of “Yes”es and “Ai, Mami!”

    Never again did we hear those neighbors. Never again.

  19. I’ve just always accepted that part of living in an apartment is that walls are thin and you are going to hear other people. One of my exes used to get so horribly upset about this and would just freak out over the tiniest little sounds he would hear from other apartments but I guess that’s part of the reason why he’s an ex – but it might explain why we get complaints when we aren’t really being loud. Irrational people exist. One thing I don’t really understand is that with my current boyfriend and I, when ever I stay over I don’t think we are particularly “loud” at night *ahem* and I’ve been staying over there on a fairly regular basis for atleast 9 months now from what I can figure and his neighbors have never made a complaint, never said anything to us in the halls, the wife of the couple even smiles at him and winks (so inappropriate… but whatever). Then suddenly about 2 weeks ago they started doing that passive aggressive knocking on the wall thing! And then he got a letter from the landlord about a noise complaint. So I don’t understand that – it wasn’t a problem for this long but now out of the blue it is? And I know in my building some times the other tenants play music, and in my old building there was a couple who would just scream at each other and I just ignored it or played my own music if it bothered me because it’s an apartment – I could have called the cops about the screaming couple but for the part of town it was in screaming people were just common and it got to the point where it was like ok that’s just how they communicate. I guess not everyone is as easy going as me about these things but seriously, apartments are not known for being havens of tranquility – who moves into one expecting that? I don’t try to infringe on the rights of others, but are we all supposed to just sit in our rental units not moving and not making a peep?

  20. Two stories:
    My husband and I lived in the basement of a DC row house before we got pregnant. Two days after we moved in the upstairs neighbors asked if it was okay that they had a party planned. We said sure, of course. It was our worst mistake living there. They had no rugs on their floors and set up their stereo right above our bed and encouraged jumping to the music (playing rap music from the mid-90’s in the late 2000’s). Around midnight the smell of pot permeating our back door was too much to handle, but when we went up to complain there were so many people we couldn’t find an actual neighbor. This lasted until 4am on a Saturday night, and I work at 8am Sunday mornings.

    Two days later we had it out with them over the issue. We let them know what weekends we were out of town. They could throw parties then. We’d be open to the occasional Friday night. If they did throw a party on a Saturday, we’d call the police the second the noise curfew went into effect.

    Our neighbor for months got a new boyfriend. We didn’t meet the boyfriend, but knew about him because of the very vocal sex they were having. A few weeks in, my husband went over and when a guy answered the door my husband told him they had to keep the noise down a little. In the afternoon the neighbor came over to say that was not her boyfriend, but her brother my husband had talked to. Boyfriend had left early in the morning and brother had come over for breakfast. There were apologies all around.

  21. For the day time noise, there is really nothing you can do without being THAT neighbor. Invest in some noise canceling headphones. My partner and I are loud peoples, and our roommate works from home, and this was a problem until we bought her noise canceling headphones.

    For the night noise, let them know as nicely as possible and make it about you, not them. Say something like “Hey, I know you guys are blah blah blah, but I have to wake up at blah time and I was wondering if you could keep it down a bit.” Don’t use accusatory language because it will just make people angry and defensive. Don’t write notes either. If you put your pretty face on the problem they’re having, they are more likely to realize that they are disturbing an actual *person* rather than a piece of angry paper.

    I wouldn’t go to the landlord or the cops unless you talk to them and it gets you nowhere.

    Also, earplugs. I use Mack’s silicon ones. They are lifesavers.

  22. I can understand the noisy neighbor thing perfectly. I live in a tiny studio in a low end complex. The worst offenders are the folks living above me. There seems to be a revolving door of neighbors moving in and out of that apartment.

    First it was a family with a small child that would seemingly run sprints around the apartment at 11:00 at night. If the child wasn’t running around then the parents were playing music so loud that I could not only identify the melody but hear the lyrics well enough to sing along.

    After they moved out the Night Owls moved in. I think these people work a swing shift or something. They seem to come home around 11:00 PM and take to living their lives as if it was the middle of the afternoon. Cabinets banging closed, vacuums running at all hours, balcony door sliding open and shut and open and shut, loud conversations and *ahem* intimate moments that seem to take place in the MIDDLE of the night. I’m talking 2 or 3 in the morning. Our walls are so thin I don’t just hear the headboard banging but springs squeaking and the occasional moan.

    It can’t be that the landlords are just putting the noisy people in the apartment above mine – as tempting as it is to believe that. The fact of the matter is that living in an apartment, you’re going to hear your neighbors. Day time noise I just deal with. I turn on my own music or just plain get out of the house. Nighttime noise I put up with to a certain extent. The loud music at all hours of the night is just rude. I spoke to our landlords about it and it hasn’t been such a problem.

    A note on the nocturnal lovin’ – My boyfriend and I joke that although my upstairs neighbors get it on frequently enough it doesn’t seem to be very exciting. One night after five nights in a row of bed springs and moaning I had enough and invited boyfriend to come over and spend some quality time with me. Once it got to be about the time I usually hear them get started we started our own session. Louder. More passionate. And I’m going to go out on a limb here, WAY more satisfying.

    Since then I haven’t heard their intimate moments at all. Either we made them realize that I could hear everything they were doing or they’re afraid they can’t live up to the wild nights we have. 😉

  23. This is such a great post!
    We live in an older building with questionable characters upstairs. When they started pounding music well into 2 a.m. on a weekday (when I had to work at 7), and 2 phonecalls to the landlord had no effect, we called the police AND the city to make a formal noise complaint. While a noise complaint on a Friday night was not a top priority for city police, our complaint to the city was fully followed through on — they contacted the landlord with a warning and told him that if there was another complaint, they would be forced to take action.
    As helpful as it was though, maybe the most important thing was just letting go of my anger. When I can hear Upstairs’ television as I’m going to sleep (I’m a reeeaaally light sleeper) and start listening for the telltale bass of TV voices, my anger rises and rises. The angrier I get, the less I sleep, and the louder the sound seems. Realistically? The TV probably isn’t that loud, and he really doesn’t mean for me to hear it. It’s an old building from the 70s! Once I accepted that his intent was NOT malicious, and that our neighbours could probably just as well hear our TV, my anger started to dissolve. And with that, I stopped listening for the sounds that were bothering me and just went to sleep.
    Moral of the story? Apartment living can be tough. Understanding that you may be causing just as much disturbance involuntarily, that someone is causing you, is key. Tolerance!

  24. Maybe pick a time when they’re being relatively quiet to knock on their door. Introduce yourself, maybe get to know them for a minute, and then mention that sometimes when they’re doing a particular activity, you can hear them in your place. Maybe bring some sort of peace offering like cookies or something, just to show that you’re trying to be nice, not the evil “keep it down” neighbor.

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