Stop The Commotion

By Kristen Castillo

April 17, 2013 4 min read

Whether it's a loud party, deafening music, a blaring movie, screaming kids or just over-the-top conversation, noisy neighbors can be irritating.

You can probably deal with the annoyance once in a while, but if the noise is a frequent occurrence, you need to fix the problem.

*Nasty Noise

"When you're living in a communal environment, it's not going to be 100 percent ideal all the time," says Gary Malin, president of Citi Habitats, a sales and rental real estate brokerage.

Apartment and condo residents know the places they call home won't be noise-free, but there's an expectation that it won't be loud all the time.

"In the end, everyone wants quiet enjoyment of their apartment," says Malin.

Many homeowners have to deal with neighbor noise, too, often from neighbors next door or down the block.

Still, the situation is the same -- unwanted noise and frustrated people who want it to stop.

*Document the Nuisance

"The biggest challenge is that noise can be very subjective," says Debra A. Warren, vice president of client relations for Associa, a community association management firm. "What is noisy to one person is loud to another. Therefore, the first step needs to be a civilized conversation so that each party can hear and appreciate the needs of others."

Before you confront your neighbor, make sure you've documented the problem. For example, if your neighbor hosts a loud party every Friday night, keep track of the dates and times of the noise and specific problems, such as loud music or too many people in the hallway.

Don't wait to deal with the noise until it's become a big problem. If you ignore it, neighbors may not realize it's a problem for you.

"If you know your neighbors personally you can say, 'I'm sure you're not aware, but,'" says Malin, who notes, "Many times people don't realize it's as loud as it is."

*Confronting the Problem

If you've talked to your neighbor about the situation, and they're not respectful of your concerns, "then it is time to address your concern with your landlord," says Warren.

"Put the landlord on notice," says Malin. "You want help to do this peacefully."

In many cases, the landlord will confront the neighbor to help resolve the problem. If the neighbor's not responsive, you could ask the landlord for a favor.

"If you're a good tenant and you're dealing with a difficult neighbor, say, 'I'm willing to move to a different apartment in the building,'" suggests Malin.

Frustrated renters and homeowners have other options, too. You can file a complaint with your city's noise abatement or housing office. You can also contact the police if the noise violates noise laws. Another option is hiring an attorney to write a cease and desist letter asking the neighbor to stop the racket.

"Noise is really an issue of conflicting personal habits and behaviors," says Warren, who doesn't recommend contacting outside parties for help unless it's really necessary. "Third parties can be brought in to assist, but it's really not their battle unless the problem is severe and is impacting the lives within the neighborhood or violating noise ordinances."

*Quiet, Please!

When all you want is peace and quiet, it can be tough not to take things personally.

"You're trying to come up with a solution to the problem, not be the problem," says Malin.

That's why you shouldn't get emotional about your frustrations with loud neighbors. Instead, treat the situation rationally -- like a business deal.

"It's important to retain your composure through the process to reach an amicable resolution," says Malin.

Even though you want to maintain good relationships with your neighbors, don't worry about others' reactions. You deserve to be happy in your home.

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