Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Handle Noisy Neighbors

Having neighbors can be a great experience but what happens when they're less than pleasant? Communication is always the key to a good relationship and the same goes for good neighbors. 
The easiest way around troublesome neighbors is confront issues before they start. Here's some great advice from Reader's Digest: 

1. Get to know each other. 

Being a good neighbor doesn’t mean taking family vacations together. Just knowing them well enough to say hi, or maybe borrowing a cup of sugar or loaning a gardening tool, can build trust and understanding. Issues are much more likely to escalate among strangers than even casual acquaintances.

2. Head off problems before they’re problems. 

If you are throwing a party at your place, go to all neighbors who might be affected and offer them two things: a verbal invitation to the party and a card with your phone number. If the noise escalates or there is another problem, your neighbor can call you instead of the police.

3. Talk it out. 

Tell your neighbor what’s bothering you – don’t assume they know what the problem is. Be open and direct, not passive-aggressive. Ask for their input, and wherever possible, propose a solution that splits the difference and demonstrates a willingness to compromise. Stay cool and positive, even if they’re not.

Sometimes getting to know your neighbor just isn't enough. If there are still problems it's time to take action. It's important to be proactive about nuisance neighbors. You don't have to wait for your lease to end to get some peace and quiet. Here are 4 steps to deal with your neighbor issues from Yahoo Voices "Apartment Etiquette 101 - Dealing With a Noisy Neighbor"

Tip #1 - Keep A Record!

When having issues with a noisy neighbor - you should keep a record of dates and times when the noise was an issue - whether it was too loud, a minor annoyance or just plain overwhelming. While it's wishful thinking that the issue won't escalate to a true point of seriousness - it is better to be prepared and safe, rather than sorry later on.

Tip #2 - Remain Polite At All Times!

In some cases, your neighbor may simply be unaware that they're being too loud. Perhaps they simply have a heavy foot when walking across their floor (which may be your ceiling,) or they are unaware that their music is being heard through your shared wall (if they live above you, next to you, or below you.)

If this is the first offense and the first occurrence of the noise, then your safest bet is to go ahead and talk with your neighbor. Explain the issue with them - remember to remain calm and polite. If you go to their door and instantly jump down their throat, they will be less willing to work with you. By all means, do not go to their door and scream at them for being "the loudest, rudest neighbor on the face of the planet." Do not insult their intelligence level - "Are you just completely stupid and unaware of other people who live around you?" This will not help you, and your neighbor could report you to management for harassment.

You are better off with something along the lines of "hey - I live (next door to, above, below) you and I don't think you're doing it on purpose but your (music, or other source of noise) is a bit loud and I can hear it clearly through the walls. Is it possible you could turn it down just a little? I would really appreciate it." Remember, being calm and polite will get you farther than being rude.

Above all, no matter what their attitude may be - remain polite! Your neighbor will be more willing to work with you if you remain calm, kind, and polite - rather than attacking them as soon as they open the door. If you handle the situation correctly, chances are you'll get an apology and the noise level will decrease greatly. If you're really lucky, you won't have to deal with the issue again.

Whatever you do, do not resort to threats or violence. You will only hurt yourself in the long run if you give your neighbor a reason to get back at you. Threatening them will only escalate things into an unnecessary and possibly dangerous situation.

However, if the issue persists - you'll have to pursue more drastic measures.

Tip #3 - Time To Contact Management

If the noise issue continues, becomes more frequent, or becomes louder - it's time to contact your landlord. Again, remember to remain calm and polite. Your landlord will be more willing to deal with your issue if you do not call them and scream into the phone about your "ridiculously rude neighbor!" Keep in mind that your issue is with your neighbor, not the management (not yet, anyway.)

Remember that record you started? You can use this to reference all the dates that were issues and alert the management to the frequency or severity of the situation. Also be sure to inform them that you've tried resolving the issue yourself and that you politely asked them to tone down the noise and they did not. Remember to mark down that you contacted management - and how many times you contacted management if you end up calling them more than once.

Most apartments have a "3 strikes" sort of policy, meaning it only takes 3 complains before more serious consequences are imposed onto the offending neighbor. It may only need to be 3 legitimate complaints by a single neighbor, or 3 different neighbors making the same complaint. If this is the case, it may be beneficial to your case to speak to the other neighbors who share a wall (or ceiling/floor) with your loud neighbor. Chances are if you hear the booming bass (or other noise,) then they can too - and it probably irritates them just as much as it irritates you.

Presenting a united front to your management will more than likely alert them to a serious noise issue. It will also help get faster results in managing your unruly neighbor.

Also, check into your lease. Chances are there are designated "quiet times" which are generally from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. The same applies for city ordinances - this is especially helpful if your neighbor tends to be more noisy later in the night. You can also use this information later if the issue continues to escalate.

Tip #4 - Involve A Higher Authority

The general rule of thumb is 3 complaints - if you've contacted management 3 or more times about the noise your neighbor is making, then it's time to move to a higher authority.

When making a noise complaint to the police - stay calm! Again, your issue is with your neighbor, not the police and chances are if you've gotten to this point, you're probably pretty aggravated.

While you may feel that you are annoying the police with a minor, petty annoyance - it will not help you at all if you just simply allow your neighbor's bad behavior to slide. If you are to the point where the noise is occurring on a regular basis and you are contacting the police on a regular basis, it will only help make your case stronger for more serious consequences for your neighbor. Don't feel bad at this point, your neighbor is no longer being reasonable and is clearly inconsiderate of others around them.

On the off chance that several weeks of police knocking on your neighbor's door to tell them to tone down the noise isn't helping - there are two last resorts.

Take a look at some horrible neighbor stories from Huffington Post! 

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