Unless you are very fortunate, you will eventually encounter the neighbor from hell. This type of neighbor seems oblivious to your existence, even though you live right next-door. Their behavior includes many disturbing activities including noise, constant traffic in and out of the apartment, slamming doors, and leaving garbage in the hallway for days. These can be mild compared to other possibilities, the neighbor from hell may engage in illegal activity (such as drug dealing), which could jeopardize your safety. When moving to a new apartment, or watching a new neighbor move in, you hope for a good neighbor. But, what do you do if you end up with a rotten neighbor?
Taking Action to Curb Bad Neighbor Problems
Once you’ve concluded that your neighbor’s behavior is harming your quality of life, it’s time to plan your course of action. To begin, keep a log of their offending behavior. Write down the dates and times of each infraction, along with a detailed description of what happened. You’ll need this information later.
After recording several infractions, have a word with your neighbor. The goal of this contact isn’t to stop them immediately, it’s to put them on notice of the problem. Wait for the offending behavior to occur and then knock on their door to tell them it’s bothering you. No matter how annoyed you are, stay calm. Regardless of their response, thank them for listening to you and politely leave.
Wait a few days to see if there is any improvement. Should the problems persist, you’ll have to move to the next step, contacting the management. Call your property manager or landlord with your log in hand. Give specific examples of your neighbor’s disturbing behavior and ask them to speak to the occupants of the offending apartment. If your neighbor is breaking any of your apartment’s rules, be sure to mention which ones; also mention that you’d like them to follow up with you.
Allow a week for the management to get back to you and then call again. Make a note of whatever the manager or landlord says to you. Use this information to draft a letter to your landlord, outlining your complaint and any conversations that you had with the management.
At this stage, consider filing a complaint with the police for something like a violation of your town’s noise ordinance. A call to the police during a loud, late-night party will suffice. Any evidence of illegal activity should be reported to your landlord and the police. Using an anonymous tip line to contact police for illegal activity may avoid a confrontation with your neighbor.
When All Else Fails
If the above steps yield no improvement, ask your landlord to evict your neighbor. You are legally entitled to the quiet enjoyment of your home. Your neighbor’s lease gives your landlord the right to evict them for making the building uninhabitable or endangering other residents. Alternatively, using your log and complaint history as a basis, ask your landlord to release you from your lease and move elsewhere.
Lisa Bernstein: As a long-time apartment dweller and seasoned condominium trustee, I have dealt with numerous landlord-tenant, property management, and day-to-day apartment complex issues. My extensive, direct experience has led to invaluable insights into apartment life from both the tenant and management perspectives.