You may know the scenario: Music blaring at 2 a.m; chairs scraping across the floor as you settle in to watch your favourite television show; and children squealing as you try to get in some extra snooze time on Sunday mornings. Your noisy neighbours may have you pulling at your hair, but before you go charging upstairs to give them a piece of your mind -- and possibly starting a war of words -- hit the pause button and carefully plan your strategy to muffle their sounds.
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Invite your neighbour down for coffee. This may be a welcome gesture if she is new to the building or to the neighbourhood. As you become acquainted, inform her of the noise level coming from upstairs and discuss ways to alleviate the problem.
Call a truce and tell your neighbour how the noise is affecting you. Don't assume she knows and resist the urge to make personal attacks when you meet. This is not meant to be a confrontation, but a negotiation. Be specific in pointing out where the noise is coming from or where it is loudest. Note the types of noise and in general the noisiest time periods. Being specific may help both of you to pin down concrete solutions.
Investigate solutions with your neighbour, if possible. For example, the problem could be solved with carpeting or area rugs. Or you could investigate debarking services for her dog.
Write a letter to your neighbour if a face-to-face meeting seems out of the question. Outline the issue and possible solutions. Refrain from snarky comments and accusations; your intention is for a peaceful resolution. Be specific as you would in a conversation and copy the letter to your landlord and tenants
Ask the landlord to intervene. He has a vested interest in having the issue resolved and may offer to assist by installing carpeting and addressing other areas such as windows, floorboards and cracks that could help to reduce the decibel level.
Get your tenants' or residents' association or committee involved, if other measures fail. The committee may be able to negotiate a solution, offer ideas, put pressure on your neighbour to change her errant ways or even recommend that she be evicted. If others have also complained about the noisy neighbour you could work with the association or committee to put pressure on the noisemaker to conform or you could team up to take the matter further.
Call the police. Team up with others who are also being disturbed and make a joint complaint. Police in some jurisdictions will only respond if two or more people complain.
Take legal action. However, be prepared to present a solid case if you decide to go through the court to silence your neighbour. You will need to show how the excessive and continuous noise is affecting your enjoyment of your home and present evidence that you have asked your neighbour to stop.
Move. If all else fails and you're not prepared for a legal battle or the ongoing disruptions, your only choice may be to find another place.
Tips and warnings
- Resist the urge to fight fire with fire. Blasting your television to give your neighbour a taste of her own medicine may backfire. Chances are, she has a higher tolerance level for noise and chaos than you do.
- Do not take the law into your hands or you may quickly find yourself going from being the person who is wronged to the wrongdoer. Don't give away your rights.
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