5 Tips for Dealing with a Noisy Neighbor

Noisy neighbors are the worst. Maybe you’ve been woken up by the rhythmic sounds of a high powered vacuum at 2 a.m. Maybe it’s spring break and your college neighbors are on a three day party bender (complete with ear-splitting music.)  Maybe It’s 3 in the afternoon, your kid has just gotten home from school, and the people you share a wall with are sharing some… loud quality time together. No matter the situation, the noisy neighbor must be stopped.

We’ve all been there. Noisy neighbors are a common annoyance of any renter’s life. But there are ways to get some peace and quiet while keeping things cordial between you and the people you have to share a yard with. Here are five tips for turning the volume down in a neighborly way.

1. Put Away the Broom

If you want to keep things civil, don’t start by lunging for the nearest broomstick and jabbing it into the ceiling. Similarly, don’t yell at the wall or out the window. Be civil. Approach your neighbor in person, and calmly ask for them to reduce their noise level. They might be surprised to see you — many people don’t understand how loud they’re being, or how well sound travels through certain materials. Being calm, friendly, and direct can help keep tensions low — and, if it’s a problem like loud music or a blaring television, relief can be almost instant.

2. Or Pick Up a Pen

It’s not always convenient, possible, or reasonable to confront your neighbor directly. So instead of barging in on their raging party, or interrupting their afternoon delight with a firm knock on the door, try the literary approach: Write a direct, polite, and — this is important — non-passive-aggressive note. Try to be friendly, and if your lease has “quiet hours,” mention them. Something like:

Dear Mike,

I notice you really like Migos’s hit song ‘Bad & Boujee.’ I do, too. But in addition to being bad, I am also bougie — I have to get up to go to work in the mornings at 7. Would you mind using headphones after 10? That’s when our lease’s quite hours start.

Thanks man,

Your neighbor

3. Don’t Demand Absolute Tranquility…

Because as En Vogue once sang, you’re never gonna get it.

Part of living in a building with other people is that you’ll occasionally hear them. When you ask your neighbors to keep it down, what you’re really asking is for them to be reasonable, not absolutely silent. So don’t take any noise at all — a breaking dish, an occasional loud conversation, the odd Netflix explosion — as a personal insult.

Instead, play music of your own, wear headphones, and try to deal.

4. Take a Recording

But if things don’t get better — if the parties keep raging, the music keeps playing, and the dogs keep barking — take an audio recording with your phone. Document the time, duration, and intensity of the noise. You’ll need proof when you escalate things up to your landlord.

5. Talk to Your Landlord, And If That Doesn’t Work, the Police

If, after repeated conversations, letters, and reasonable discussions, your neighbors are still hitting the upper decibels, take the issue to your landlord. Explain the situation, being sure to note your own attempts to solve the problem. Present audio documentation and any notes you might have. In essence: Be the reasonable, responsible party, and let your landlord do the rest. If they don’t, file a noise complaint with the police. It’s harsh, but it gets the job done.

Nobody likes a loud neighbor. But you know what else nobody likes? A killjoy. When you’re dealing with neighbor noise, a little bit of friendliness goes a long way. Be direct, be nice, and don’t escalate unless you have to. Chances are you’ll be able to get some peace and quiet without starting an apartment-noise cold war. Because at the end of the day, you still want someone you can borrow butter from, right?