Imagine this scenario for a moment. It’s 2 AM on a Thursday. You are trying to sleep since you have an important meeting at work in the morning. You need that sleep, and usually, you would be peacefully slumbering away. Unfortunately, it seems like your neighbors have other plans for your night.
Like clockwork, your neighbors have decided to have a massive party at ear-splitting levels right next door. You can hear the DJs spinning, motorcycles revving, people shouting, and is that fireworks you hear? You’re hoping it’s fireworks, anyway. What can you do?
The Issue Of Loud Neighbors: Do You Have A Legit Problem?
Almost every neighborhood has at least one family that is a little louder than the rest. So, before you go crazy, realize you’re not alone in this. There are plenty of people who tend to have issues with noisy, terrible neighbors from time to time.
It’s important to realize that there are annoying noises that you may need to cope with, and there are issues that go beyond typical noise issues. If you’re dealing with occasional dog barking problems or kids in the yard, take a deep breath and try to tolerate it. It’s really not that bad.
On the other hand, you might have a legitimate complaint if the noise occurs during regular sleeping hours. Before you decide to “just deal with it,” check the local noise ordinances first. Most local ordinances ban:
- Excessive Noise During Quiet Hours- Weekdays from around 8 PM to 8 AM are off-limits for wild parties in most areas. However, your specific hours may vary depending on where you live and what kind of neighborhood you’re in.
- High Decibel Noise Levels- How loud the noise is can play a factor. If it’s over the level of a buzzsaw, you probably have a right to a noise complaint.
- Noise Frequency- Most neighborhoods will look the other way if it’s a one-off like a birthday party. If it’s a daily thing, you have a genuine problem.
- Noise In High-Density Areas- No one will care if you shout and holler in the middle of a field. In the middle of a massive apartment complex, things will be different, though. People will notice, and they will get annoyed.
- Unnatural Noise- Things along the lines of dogs barking might get tossed out, but if you constantly hear music playing at night, things will be different. Excessively loud music is something controllable, which is why most courts will expect people to be on their best behavior.
- Criminal Noise- Do you hear loud drug deals going on? Are there signs that the noise might be tied to potentially illegal activities like motorcycle racing or gunfire? You may have a legitimate issue that impedes on your safety.
What if Your Neighbors Are Playing Loud Music During the Day?
Your neighbors can play loud music during the day as long as it doesn’t violate local noise ordinances. Typically, that means that unless the music is excessively loud, there’s not much you can do. A good way to determine if they’re too loud is to turn on a vacuum cleaner. If you can hear your neighbors’ music over the vacuum cleaner, it’s likely too loud, and you can file a noise complaint.
Dealing With Noisy Neighbors
So, you’ve taken things into consideration, and you’re pretty sure you have a problem. Now, what do you do? How should you deal with your noisy neighbors? Here’s what you should do to make sure things get quashed, fast.
- Before you do anything, politely approach them and ask them to tone it down. Most neighbors don’t realize how much noise they make until people tell them to knock it off. Ask them nicely, and you’ll probably be able to nip the issue in the bud.
- Ask yourself if you can just take a walk. This is clearly just a temporary fix, but sometimes, it’s better to be reasonable. For example, if your neighbors’ noise is due to a Sweet 16, it might be better to leave the kids to have their fun for the night.
- Ask yourself if this is going to be a regular occurrence. If your neighbors are currently working day and night on a home remodeling project, you might decide to bear it. These kinds of situations will eventually solve themselves once their project is finished.
- Look up local laws. If they’re breaking noise ordinances regularly and talks haven’t helped, you might be able to give a landlord, an HOA, or police a heads up. From there, you can figure out what to do and what your best option could be.
What About Noisy Upstairs Neighbors?
Are your upstairs neighbors driving you crazy? Do they make a ton of noise stomping around all day? While your first instinct may be to try to soundproof your home or to get revenge, the simple truth is that it’s best to confront them about the problem. Be polite when you speak with your upstairs neighbors, but explain that they’re too noisy and disturbing you. In most cases, they’ll be more considerate and tone down the noise.
How Do You File A Noise Complaint?
The way you file a noise complaint depends on your current housing setup. Most Homeowner’s Associations and landlords will have a noise clause as part of the contract that lets you stay there. Knowing what the clause states is crucial here.
To file a noise complaint, send a written letter explaining your grievances to the landlord or HOA. Before you mail it, make sure that you read over the contract to ensure that you didn’t break any rules. Otherwise, you might end up in a long, drawn-out squabble over rule-breaking.
It’s worth pointing out that breaking noise codes multiple times can lead to an eviction and also cause a drop in property value. If this is a repeat problem, you can expect most landlords and HOAs to step in.
Can I Call The Police If My Neighbors Are Too Loud?
If you don’t have a landlord or an HOA that you can write to, there’s another way to get the peace and quiet you want. If the noise complaint is severe enough, you’ve tried to get them to cease, and they are just not letting up, you can call the police on them.
However, you can’t just call 911. 911 is a hotline reserved explicitly for emergencies, and a noise complaint isn’t an emergency. To call the right police group, use your local non-emergency line instead and explain the situation.
The only time you should call 911 for a noise complaint is if you hear sounds that suggest domestic violence. Domestic violence is a criminal matter, and a person’s life could potentially be at risk. If you hear noise that sounds like a fight breaking out, please call 911!
Can You Sue A Neighbor For Noise Pollution?
Sometimes, you’ll have neighbors who are not going to let up, no matter how nicely you ask them or how many times cops arrive. It’s rare, but it happens. At this point, it’s safe to say that you are now dealing with a serious problem when it comes to enjoying the value of your home.
Believe it or not, you can sue your neighbors over the noise they’re making. This is because it’s considered to impede on your enjoyment of your living space. This is usually a civil suit that’s done in small claims court, so you don’t even need a lawyer to get the claim to be successful.
If you choose to do this, make sure that you have ample evidence in the form of written letters and police reports. If you can, record some of the noise as it occurs. The more evidence you have, the more likely it is that your case will succeed. As one can imagine, most bad neighbors will stop if it hurts their wallets.
There’s good news and bad news to be had when you’re discussing this topic. The good news about having noisy neighbors is that you’re not alone and that there are multiple things you can do to reduce the noise you hear daily. In most cases, the person who complains is the person who “wins.”
The bad news is that not all noise is preventable and that if you approach certain events the wrong way, you could make enemies among your neighbors. So, no matter what approach you take, tread carefully. You don’t want to be “that” neighbor.