Noisy Neighbors: How to Turn Down the Volume
By: Sue Mellen
Turn down the volume on noisy neighbors by politely ratcheting up the pressure on them to quiet down.
Show your noisy neighbors how loud they are.
Step one in your noisy neighbor silencing plan is to invite them over
to hear firsthand what you hear. If the neighbors smile, nod, and
ignore your verbal request, write them a polite note about the problem
and keep a copy for yourself. This note and others that youâ€™ll write
will help prove your case if you have to take your complaint to court
later on. But firstâ€¦
Tell the HOA how noisy your neighbor is.
When they continue being noisy neighbors, take your complaint to the first rung on the local authority ladder.
you live in a home owners association, write the board or manager a
note asking what your Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions
(CC&Rs) say about noise. Do the CC&Rs say second-floor unit
owners have to carpet floors so you donâ€™t have to listen to their
clomping feet? Keep a copy of the note to the HOA and their response for
If the CC&Rs are silent about noise reduction,
ask the board to mediate between you and your noisy neighbor, providing
both a neutral ear and a venue for the discussion.
If the HOA
refuses to help, ask your neighbors if theyâ€™re having noise issues and
if theyâ€™ll come to a board meeting with you. Or, run for the HOA board
and work to pass noise-reduction rules.
Ask the city to quiet your noisy neighbor.
If the HOA route fails, or if youâ€™re not in an HOA, turn to city
noise ordinances. City hall can connect you with the noise cops in your
townâ€”probably planning and zoning in a small town, or environmental
quality in a larger city. Write or call the appropriate group, asking
that a noise control officer come out and measure exactly how much noise
your noisy neighbor is making.
If the noisy neighbor is loud enough, then the noise enforcement
officer can issue a citation. You can also call the cops every time your
neighbor gets too loud, which might create yet another citation, or at
least a verbal warning to your neighbor.
Keep a copy of that
correspondence and notes about when you call the cops, as well as times
your noisy neighbor disturbed you, but you didnâ€™t call the cops.
Sue your noisy neighbor
If youâ€™re determined to make noisy neighbors shut up already, and
none of those civil options has worked, you can sue them in small claims
court. You donâ€™t need a lawyer, but you will need detailed records of
all the things youâ€™ve tried to silence your noisy neighbor:
- Copies of letters you sent the noisy neighbor, the HOA, and the city
- A list of times the noisy neighbor has been noisy
- Videos of the noisy neighborâ€™s dog barking at 2 a.m.
- Copies of citations, if you can get them
Such items show how hard youâ€™ve worked to solve the problem before
turning to the courts. Judges like people whoâ€™ve tried nicely and
politely to solve their own problems.
Small claims court is a
lot like the Judge Judy show on television. You ask for compensation
because your noisy neighbor is disturbing the peaceful enjoyment of your
home. Your noisy neighbors, if they show up, argue that youâ€™re a crank.
You whip out your paperwork and other evidence to prove your side of
the story and, hopefully, win.
If your HOA and your town blow you off, and you donâ€™t want to go to court, you still have three options left:
- Move. No doubt, youâ€™ll check the soundproofing before you buy your next home, right?
- Soundproof. Youâ€™ll probably end up creating pockets of air to
channel the sound away and adding sound-absorbing materials in the
walls. An accoustical consultant can help you figure out what will and wonâ€™t work in your home.