When to Cope or Take Action With Loud Neighbors

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Loud neighbors are a fact of life for apartment dwellers. Living in close proximity to others includes hearing your neighbors’ activities. Judgment must be used to determine whether noise falls within the expected sounds of daily life or represents excessive noise, which infringes on your rights.

Sounds of Daily Living

Certain types of sound are produced by daily activities. These include:

  • Footsteps
  • Muffled television or radio sounds
  • Doors and cabinets closing (especially on walls adjacent to your apartment)
  • Running water
  • Ringing telephones

Despite our best efforts, we all make noise as we go about our daily life. Since people vary in how they respond to the noise of others, you may be more or less sensitive to sounds produced by your neighbors.

Excessive Noise

Some types of noise fall outside of what you would expect to hear. These noises are produced by activities that are either not part of daily life or are louder than necessary for daily activities. An example of excessive noise is when your neighbor throws loud, late-night parties. There is a difference between socializing with friends and blasting music so loudly that it can be heard down the street. If music is loud enough to be considered high volume, when heard outside your building, it’s too loud.

Using power tools or other loud machinery during your apartment’s quiet hours is another example of excessive noise. As a guideline, any activity producing loud, unnecessary noise could be considered excessive.

Deciding Whether to Cope or Take Action

Once you’ve determined whether your neighbor’s noise is normal or excessive, you can decide how to proceed. Regardless of your opinion on whether a certain type of noise is excessive, think about how it affects you.

Start by asking yourself a few questions. Can you sleep? Can you study? Can you have normal conversations without shouting? Do you have any way to block the noise?

Prioritize each of your responses to establish which is most important. Keep in mind that you can’t live in a completely noise-free environment, when living in an apartment. Therefore, you must focus on the noises that interfere with your own life, not just those that you’d prefer not to hear.

If you can live with the noises, but they occur at a bad time, try asking your neighbor to engage in those activities at a different time of day. In other words, if you can live with the noise at certain times, but not others, work with your neighbor to find a way to peacefully coexist.

When a neighbor won’t cooperate in coordinating schedules, or produces noise so loud that you can’t sleep, study, or work, then it’s time to take action. In such cases, plan to take steps to enforce your apartment building’s noise rules against your neighbor. Be prepared to move out, in the event that you can’t gain compliance. Whichever approach you take, always remember that you must live there while sorting things out, and a conciliatory approach is usually better than a combative one.


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.

10 Responses to “When to Cope or Take Action With Loud Neighbors”

  1. September 22, 2009 at 12:39 pm, S. Sim said:

    Thank you for the well written and balanced article. We are currently on the receiving end of a noise complaint, and I wish the complainer had read this article first. They are complaining of heavy walking during the early evenings (5-8pm) when we return from work. The landlord wants us to change the way we walk to accommodate this person’s complaint. I suspect they are especially sensitive to noise, but what’s next? Tiptoe 24/7? Never have people over? This seems like we are changing our daily lives for their extra-sensitive hearing. Is there any recourse should this escalate?


  2. September 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm, Need to buy a house said:

    I’ve very recently dealt with this situation. I had immature neighbors that lived above me. They were heavy walkers but what bothered me the most was having to listen to the bass coming from the walls whenever they played music (loudly of course). The apartment manager tried to talk to them but wasn’t willing to do more than that. I just had to put up with it. I live in Texas so I don’t know how legally feasible it is to evict a loud neighbor. Even then, I don’t think the apartment managers care to do this; they’re more concerned with getting income from that tenant or any tenant. Basically, my advice is if you are having to deal with a loud tenant, begin documenting all times that you’ve had to call the police or apartment security. Also get an incident number if you can. Complain to the apartment manager in writing as well. That will at least provide some back up documentation for them should they pursue eviction.


  3. January 04, 2010 at 9:14 pm, Sensitive but Realistic said:

    I happen to have neighbors that have a hard foot when they step. I have only lived in this place for a week now and it’s driving me crazy! I understand that some people just walk that way, but when you are sharing a wall with others, it should be common sense and consider how loud you may be. I pay more money to live in a nice duplex/townhouse and the neighbors are owners. You would think that they would talk to the owner of my rental and come to an agreement on making the floors and/or walls more soundproof. Unless you are on the side that has to hear the constant footsteps (believe me, I know exactly where these people are in their house at all times), are awakened by such and can hear everytime something is dropped, doors slammed, etc., you do not understand how it feels. It can be very loud and disruptive. Especially when you are in the middle of relaxing and your disrupted so abruptly that your heart is beating very fast. Not fun… Try to be considerate of others. It’s frustrating to be normally quiet anyway and consider how loud something might be to others, when the ones that are truly loud have absolutely no clue and no consideration.


  4. October 08, 2010 at 10:09 pm, Dennis Teel said:

    I believe that most apartmenst managers expect residents to tolerate normal noise at 3am as well as 3pm,which is absurd.i can understand having to tolerate the muffle of the neighbors tv and music at 3pm..but that same muffling in the middle of the night is not acceptable.many people wake up when there’s any audible noise ..that doesn’t mean they’re noise sensitive.it means that the neighors are too loud..period!! you shouldn’t be hearing neighbors music or tv AT ALL in he middle of the night!


  5. July 13, 2012 at 2:10 am, Paul said:

    I don’t expect to hear the neighbors music, doors, car locking, etc. at any time of the day or night. I make no noise to inconvenience them, don’t do it to me. In Las Vegas where the workers are on shifts 24/7. Sorry guys and gals, never do I expect to hear you or your habits.

    Got it going on now in a townhouse where, because of the downturn, most have short saled their homes. Now many are section 8 and don’t work. Too bad. So now I just give it back to them. They bang the doors, I bang more. They have to back their SUV into a 1 car garage rumbling the whole building, I pound on the walls in the middle of the night. If they like, they can continue or get the message.

    F— them.


  6. November 13, 2012 at 10:59 am, cheryl said:

    My neighbor allows her children to bounce off the walls, literally, and fall to the floor. I have put up with this by listening to the radio a little louder just to muffle the house shaking. She is now complaining to the landlord. My complaints, though, have fallen on deaf ears. My landlord is threatening me with eviction. Wow! Really! How do I muffle the noise without being evicted? I don’t have a lot of money, either


  7. November 20, 2012 at 8:50 pm, under a microscope said:

    I live in a house apartment and I have new neighbors, they are complaining to our landlord I am making too much noise. They are not coming to me, just tattling. One day they came to me and told me what I was talking to my mom about. What! How rude! What should I do?


  8. January 06, 2013 at 10:12 pm, cheryl said:


    I have the exact same problem you do. New tenants below, 4 completely uncontrollable children, 2 parents in their 20s. I have talked to them and they ignorantly respond with “we have kids.” I told him when one of them runs it sounds like they are hammering, he said “oh yeh, and gave me the childs name.” I have to keep my tv up at night or I am woken up to the pounding. They throw toys, stomp and throw themselves on the floor and run all day long. I can tell anyone when naptime is because that is the ONLY time it is peaceful. I told my landlord I would move if it continued, he said do what you have to do. Yet, in my lease, there is a peaceful enjoyment clause. Theres nothing peaceful about it. I too turn up my stereo to drown out the constant running. When I walk, I in no way, shape or form try to be quiet cuz of the ignorance. Then he pounds on my ceiling with a broom. I drop a hammer. It amazes me how such ignorant people can be such hypocrites and yes, what are we to do about it? Where are our rights?


  9. June 19, 2013 at 6:24 am, LaDawn Williams said:

    Some of that advice is awful…it’s not always recommended to greet/meet neighbors…if someone is so thoughtless/inconsiderate as to continue to play music above their own listening level…the best thing to do…is not move! May encounter the same situation…somewhere else…I’ve notified management(they leave a lot to be desired anyway)…the best that I can do/anyone is to make our own environment…not hear/feel…the intrusive loud booming bass that accompanys loud music. I’ve found that by placing the speakers agains the wall in the direction of the noise…offers some level of comfort. Although, I do not play my music loud…I would rather hear my selection in music vs theirs/someone else’s. This is the best solution that I’ve come up with. I leave the residents in this public housing complex alone…as many of them are bitter/disagreeable/confrontational…and feel simply because that they pay rent(only for their unit)…this gives them the right to “serenade” the entire building. No wonder this housing authority is “up for grabs”. Maybe someone that is able to pick a “better” resident will be able more effectively manage this complex. I’ve been here for ten years…this loud music became an issue after another resident was transferred due to asbestos issues at their previous complex…should’ve let this inconsiderate s.o.b. stay there and…well, figure it out!


  10. June 19, 2013 at 6:39 pm, LaDawn Williams said:

    I suggest that we the above…decent tenants/residents/apartment dwellers…start a coalition to stamp out the types of issues listed here. The place where one lives…is their santuary…and if one wants to be quiet…this needs to be accomodated.


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