We’ve all had the experience: that neighbors who won’t take their barking dog inside at night, who consider treble to be inferior to bass and makes you think there’s an earthquake every time the stereo comes on, who has loud, erm, relations on an alarmingly regular basis. If you’re living in such a situation now, the first step is to take a deep breath and remember the days when you partied five nights a week until three a.m. We’re all only human. That said, you should be able to enjoy coming home to your apartment; below are some steps that might alleviate the ringing in your ears.
1. Evaluate Your Breaking Point
Your neighbor shouldn’t have to give up his passion for drums just because you moved in next door, but he also shouldn’t be playing at sunrise on the weekends. When you’re feeling calm and reasonable, talk to some friends and decide what is a reasonable expectation for quiet.
2. Speak Up
Some advisors will tell you to do this anonymously, others in person. Regardless of how you approach your neighbor, do it politely. He might have no idea how well sound travels between your homes. Also, keeping your cool will make it more likely that he’ll feel sorry, rather than defensive or, even worse, vengeful. And say something sooner rather than later—I once ignored the screaming of children for eight months before losing it and drying my sneakers after midnight every night for a week. Revenge goes both ways, and I can tell you from experience, it’s not productive. The longer you go without addressing the problem, the more angry you’ll be, and the more surprised and entrenched-in-noisy-routine your neighbor.
3. If Necessary, Take Further Action
Hopefully, one or two reminders will take care of the problem. If not, you can speak to your landlord about the issue. Tell your neighbor before asking for landlord intervention; it might be enough incentive. Review your lease for clauses about noise, or “quiet enjoyment.” It’s possible other people living nearby would sign a petition expressing discontent with noise levels. If the situation still does not improve even after speaking with your landlord, there are legal avenues for recourse, depending on when the noise occurs. Most cities have noise ordinances, times after which residents must respect the sleep of their neighbors. Complains must be made at the time of obnoxious, illegal loudness, however.
4. Keep Records
From your first complaint, document all communications about the issue, and any instances of unreasonable noise. This documentation will make it easier for you to specify your concerns with the guilty party, and will hopefully keep you from looking like a Complaining Connie when you speak with your landlord.
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