Remember that horrific tune, sung(?) by none other than Eddie Murphy called “Party All the Time?” Yeah I know, it does bring back some images we’d rather not remember. However, why is it that some of our neighbors seem to use that song as their mantra? You know the ones. The frat boys who come home close to three in the morning and party from the car to their apartment, leaving beer bottles strewn along the way; the three guys in Apartment 3C who are trying to form the next power-rock trio; the Hugh Hefner-wannabe whose friends take over the pool area, and the half-deaf woman living above you who gets a hankering for Neil Diamond when the sun goes down. Ah, the joys of apartment living.
While these people may be harmless during the daylight hours, like a vampire, they become a true nuisance at night. If only they were as easy to deal with as those of pointed tooth. In the case of the loud neighbors, who seem to live to party, you’ll have to look at ways of solving the problem, and no, you can’t use a wooden stake, as much as you’d like to.
Keep It Civil
Most apartment complexes are like their own mini-civilizations. They have their own constituents (the tenants), their own government (the landlord or property management) and their own set of rules (usually the bylaws). When you have to live with an unruly or loud neighbor, it’s usually best to keep it civil and bring it to their attention personally before taking the issue up with the landlord.
You will want to avoid going in with guns blazing and yelling at your neighbor as this will probably only spur them on to louder or more annoying habits. Be polite and explain the situation to them. They may not even be aware that they are being so annoying. Calmly explain that you have a right to quiet in your living space and you would really appreciate it if they kept it down.
“I had a neighbor who had the most annoying habit of talking on his speakerphone to his friends at 1 am,” says Matthew J. of San Diego. “His voice would be amplified through the complex because he would sit right next to his open window! I eventually asked him to keep it down because all of the neighbors were listening to his conversations, and ever since, he’s been much better about it.”
You can try to take it a little farther and invite them over for a community barbecue. Perhaps if Mr. Loudly got to know the rest of the people living in the community, he would be less likely to act up. You never know and it certainly doesn’t hurt to try before bringing in the reinforcements.
Time for Plan B
If all of your attempts at a peaceful resolution are fruitless, then it may be time to talk to the landlord. Explain to him or her the frustration you feel and the efforts you have taken thus far to try and resolve the issue on your own. If possible, talk to other neighbors who are also affected and band together to convince the landlord to take action.
The problem with taking it to the landlord or manager is that they commonly face numerous issues and problems each day, and a noisy neighbor may not be the most important issue of the day. So, it may not look like the manager is doing anything about the problem. If this is the case, don’t let the issue drop–return to the apartment manager and inquire about what’s being done about it. A little persistence never hurts; there’s a reason for the saying, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease.” Ask other neighbors to personally question the manager as well. Sometimes it takes a little pressure from a handful of tenants before a neighbor-issue gets handled.
“My landlord could care less about noise,” says Fiona M. of San Diego. “He says that he is too busy chasing his tenants for late rent to bother with the noisy tenant. Then he says to me, ‘At least he pays his rent on time.’ Yeah, noisy neighbors who pay their rent on time, they double suck.”
If you have tried unsuccessfully to solve the issue on your own and your landlord offers no relief, then you may be forced to call the police to try and restore peace to your apartment complex.
Bring in the Blue
Calling the police is a step that nobody wants to take, but sometimes, it’s unavoidable. When you do call, be sure to ask for the officer to keep your name anonymous when they speak to the loud tenant. Some tenants will look at a police call as an act of war and they may want to retaliate, so it’s important to remain nameless.
In most cases, having the police come out will cause the loud neighbor to tone it down. However, in the most extreme cases, it could backfire and cause them to turn it up a notch as soon as the police car drives away.
Taking it to the Courts
Most states have a law that states that each tenant or homeowner has a right to the quiet enjoyment of their homes, which you would see as part of the rental agreement. If you have a perpetually noisy neighbor, they are breaking this law and thus, you can actually sue them in small claims court.
If you’re at this point, you will need to build a solid case. Record the neighbor’s loud and obnoxious behavior using an inexpensive digital recorder. Get affidavits from your neighbors, or even better, ask them to serve as witnesses in court. You should also show that you have taken the steps necessary before bringing the case to the courts, such as talking to the neighbor personally, involving the landlord and calling the police. Bring a copy of the police reports with you to court.
In most cases, when facing a monetary judgment, the neighbor will finally cease their noisy ways or move out themselves.
Ways to Help Yourself
If you have a neighbor who is just slightly or occasionally noisy, you can try installing acoustical panels on your ceiling or walls to help soundproof your apartment. (Of course, you should always contact your apartment manager to notify them of the changes you are making.)
In addition, you can look to purchase a white noise machine for your bedroom to help drown out any outside noises while you are sleeping. Sometimes a small tower fan will work just as effectively.
If you live upstairs, adding thick rugs to your apartment floor can help insulate the room even further. For other ideas, see this post.
Can You Break a Lease Because of a Noisy Neighbor?
While most landlords or managers will tell you that you can’t break your lease because of a loud neighbor, the fact is you can. Since it is a law in every state that you are entitled to quiet enjoyment of your home, you may have a legal right to move out without further liability for future rent. Of course, you may have to fight it in court, but if you followed the ways detailed above to handle it on your own and you have kept a thorough record of your attempts at a peaceful resolution, then you should not have a problem. Check with your local or state tenants associations for more information.
In closing, our apartments are our homes. We want them and need them to be our haven of peace and serenity. Obnoxious partying neighbors can certainly impact your level of tranquility, so if you are faced with one and you’re losing sleep over it, give these tips a try and perhaps the noisy neighbor will learn the error of his ways and you’ll be returned to a state of sublime consciousness before you know it. But you will definitely want to nip it in the bud as soon as you can, it’s been proven that listening to “Kentucky Woman” every night at full volume can lead to mental instability and an insatiable desire to live with dozens of cats.