How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor

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How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor
Most people have to deal with this problem (Thinkstock/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Unless you live in a huge mansion nestled deep within a rustic, 500-acre plot, odds are that you've had to deal with a noisy neighbour at one time or another. Whether you're complaining to the guy in the next apartment who blasts free jazz at 1 a.m. or the folks in the adjacent house who have all-night summer cookouts, here's how to approach the matter calmly and tactfully.

Skill level:


    Dealing with noisy neighbours

  1. 1

    Decide if you're being reasonable. As a general rule, excessive noise after 11 p.m. on a weekday is grounds for complaint-and perhaps as late as 12 midnight or 1 a.m. on a weekend. Unless your neighbour's music or conversation is literally shaking your furniture and causing your cat to shed its fur, it's not kosher to knock on his door at 8:30 at night and demand complete silence.

    How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor
    Be reasonable about the time and noise levels (Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)
  2. 2

    Try to muffle the noise. Because confronting neighbours is fraught with uncertainty, you should first do everything in your power to try to ameliorate the noise. Consider turning on a fan, investing in a white-noise machine or simply going to bed wearing earplugs (which are surprisingly good at blocking high-frequency noise, though not the thrum of a pounding subwoofer).

    How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor
    Try soundproofing before confronting (Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images)
  3. 3

    Talk to your neighbour in person. If the offending party is in an adjacent apartment, it'll be tempting simply to bang loudly on the wall (or floor, or ceiling) to get his attention. This isn't a good idea; if your neighbour is making that much noise, he/she probably won't hear your urgent banging, and even if they do, might be more offended (or amused) than genuinely concerned. (If you know their phone number, calling is okay, but a face-to-face is always best.)

    How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor
    Speak to them in person (Siri Stafford/Digital Vision/Getty Images)
  4. 4

    Speak in a level tone of voice. If you and your neighbour are complete strangers, the last thing you want to do is yell at them and point at your watch as they blink at you from their open doorway. In a friendly tone, tell them you've got to get up early the next morning and you'd really appreciate it if they could turn down their stereo a bit. The same strategy applies if you're dealing with the house next door, though of course it's more of an inconvenience to get dressed for the trip.

    How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor
    Talk reasonably (Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images)
  5. 5

    Call the police only as a last resort. If you've been dealing with a noisy neighbour for weeks or months, things may eventually reach the point where you have no choice but to call in the authorities. Before you do this, beef up your case (and protect yourself against possible recriminations) by contacting other neighbours who are also suffering and presenting a united front to both your neighbour and the police.

    How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor
    Call the police only as a last resort (George Doyle & Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Tips and warnings

  • Never call 999 to register a noise complaint; this number is strictly for emergencies. Instead, look up the phone number of your local police precinct or department.

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