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Should You Confront a Noisy Apartment Neighbor?

Updated on June 17, 2011

I recently read a good hub about noise issues in a building which advised not talking to the person making the noise, but rather contacting the authorities or the property management company instead. First of all, the advice isn’t wrong, as there is no “right” or “wrong” in this case. If you feel your safety is ever at risk, confronting someone is never a good option. And at that point, the police definitely need to be called. But I want to offer a counter-opinion to how the situation should be resolved!

Before we discuss how the situation should be handled, it is important to understand the back story of the situation. Has this neighbor been loud before or is this his/her first offense at being a noisy neighbor? If it has happened before, have you ever confronted this person before? If this is a first offense, it is always good to just let it slide. This is your neighbor, someone who lives mere feet away from you – do you really want to make a big deal out of one night? If they are respectful at all other times, really consider whether this is something you should worry about. As the old saying goes, “pick your battles”.

What Do You Think?

If it is their first time to be noisy, should you complain?

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If Your Apartment Neighbor Is Noisy...

But let’s say that your neighbor is continuously noisy, I would suggest you consider one more possibility – that this neighbor simply does not realize how noisy they are. Some people just don’t naturally understand how loud they are. Or maybe they don’t realize how thin the walls are. If you are a quiet person by nature, and they never hear you, they might assume that the building has great sound insulation, and therefore be more rambunctious than they would if they knew how much you could hear them! In other words, don’t immediately assume the worst. I’ve found over and over that simply explaining the situation makes the person much more considerate just be understanding the issue.

(Note: If you decide to talk to the person, it is best to do it the next day. If the person is already drunk, it could turn into a volatile situation. Plus, you are probably pretty upset yourself. So let things calm down and then approach in a friendly but firm manner. Don’t “complain”, but rather inform them that you can hear everything from your apartment.)

If they have been noisy before, do you talk to them directly or call the authorities?

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What If You Complain?

So let’s take each of these situations and assume you call the authorities, whether it is the police or the property management company without talking to them directly (or letting it slide). In the first case, can you imagine their reaction? They are good, quiet neighbors year-round, and the first time they get a noisy, they get a complaint? Although they should not have been that loud, I believe the reaction is over the top to an extent of being just as rude as the original noise issue. Now if they are continually noisy, you do have more ground to stand on, but have you ever done something that you just didn’t realize was an issue? And if you got a complaint from a third party, I’m sure your reaction would be, “Why didn’t they just tell me themselves? I would have easily quieted down for them!” But now you have essentially “tattled”. Like I’ll go through below, sometimes “tattling” is the right thing to do, but seriously, unless you are afraid for your safety, I think any adult should have the courage to approach the situation directly.

What happens to your neighbors demeanor at that point? They may or may not quiet down. But now, they truly want to find out who complained on them without going to them first. Imagine if they ever found out it was you! If you are worried about things escalating, that is surely a recipe for disaster!

Safety First!

Now let’s go beyond those two scenarios. Let’s say that the situation becomes loud to the point of being unsafe. Or maybe you talked to the person and they continue to be excessively noisy. At that point, I highly recommend calling the authorities. They have lost their right to get upset at that point.

Ultimately, unless it is a safety concern, I think people need to be less passive-aggressive and instead open up a dialogue with other people. Your property management company rents you an apartment, they do not need to be babysitters handling all the squabbles that people would normally handle themselves if there was no “safety net”.

Agree? Disagree?


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    • profile image

      Paul 5 years ago

      Moving to an unmanned location preferabaly away from all civilization is ones best bet. Actually a well made shed would probably be less annoying if it were at all possible than it would be to live with human beings. Although there are plenty of good people out there the cretin population unfortunately is going strong and increasing so regarding apartments, ecomonics and the way such "laws" as it were are in place or should I say not in place, prospects are looking bleak for multiple dwelling renters.

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      Albert 6 years ago

      In a strata, the floors are FOB controlled by the elevator, how can you possibly approach your neighbour on another floor directly???

    • Silver Poet profile image

      Silver Poet 6 years ago from the computer of a midwestern American writer

      I agree. It's not good to start trouble. Kindness and assertion need not be mutually exclusive. One can ask politely, negotiate, etc.