How to PISS OFF Your Loud Upstairs Neighbors! (don't do this)
How to Deal with Noisy Upstairs Neighbors
One of the hardest things about living in a downstairs apartment is dealing with noise from an upstairs neighbor. Whether the noise is from normal daily activities like walking and talking or you’re dealing with late-night parties on the weekends, the first thing you should try to do is to talk to your neighbor. Luckily, in a lot of cases, that helps resolve the problem, but there are also steps you can take if that doesn’t work.
Handling the Problem Yourself
Keep in mind that some noise may be unavoidable.Your upstairs neighbors have the right to enjoy their residence just as much as you do, and the fact that you can hear them might not be their fault. Living in a multi-unit building means you may have to accept a certain amount of noise during normal daytime hours.
- Uninsulated or improperly-installed floors can actually magnify sounds, making everyday sounds like walking, cooking, or talking seem much louder to you.
- Heavy foot traffic around dinnertime is one thing, but late-night parties on a weeknight are another.
Read your lease to see if there is a noise ordinance.Some apartments and condos have a provision in their lease requiring that residents take steps to keep their noise levels down. Before you approach your neighbor or landlord, check to see if any of these are in place, as they may help support your claim.
- A noise ordinance might include observing quiet hours, having a certain percentage of the floor covered by carpets or rugs, or restrictions against loud animals.
Pick a good time to speak to your neighbor about the issue.Don't approach them in the middle of a party or late at night, when tempers may be more likely to flare. Also, don’t try to talk to them when you’re angry, if you can help it. Instead, plan to have a calm conversation first thing in the morning, or you can wait until around dinner time if you or your neighbors are night owls.
Speak politely to your neighbor and try to resolve the problem.Your neighbor might not even be aware that they’re being noisy, so try to stay calm and be friendly. Introduce yourself if you don't already know them, and give them specific examples of the types of noise that you can hear.
- Try saying something like, “Hi, I’m your downstairs neighbor. I don’t know if you know this, but sometimes your music comes through the floor late at night. It was especially loud on Tuesday, but last night I didn’t hear it as much.”
- Suggest a specific plan going forward. For instance, you might say something like, “I have to work really early. Do you think you could turn down your music after about 10:30?”
Write a note if you aren't comfortable talking face-to-face.The best way to handle the problem is with a personal conversation, but if you’re not sure that will go well, send your neighbor a short, friendly note. Try to keep it to about 4-5 sentences, be specific about the type of noise that’s bothering you, and be sure to avoid sarcasm, threats, or passive-aggressive language.
- Make a copy of the letter, and date it, in case the problem continues.
- Your note could say something along the lines of, “Hi #212! I live below you, and I was wondering if you’d mind waiting to run on the treadmill until after 6:30 a.m.? It sounds like it’s right above my bedroom, and the noise wakes me up. I hope that’s not an inconvenience! Thanks!”
Knock on the ceiling with a broom handle for infrequent noise.If your neighbor is doing something that's unusually noisy, they might not be aware that you can hear it, or it might be something that’s unavoidable. If the noise is occurring while you're trying to sleep, a tap on the ceiling might be all it takes to quiet them down.
- If the noise is during normal hours, it might be worth it to just wait it out, especially if you don't normally hear much from your neighbors.
Going to the Authorities
Keep a log where you write down every time you hear excessive noise.Write down the time, date, and the type of noise you’re hearing. You should also include whether you took any action, like knocking on the ceiling or speaking to your neighbor. Having a paper trail can help be helpful if you need to take the problem to the property manager or the police, since it will show an ongoing pattern of noise.
- The log might look something like “Sunday Aug. 7 - Loud party lasting until midnight. Knocked on the door but no one answered,” followed by “Wednesday Aug. 10 - Sounded like a couple arguing. No action taken.”
Ask your other neighbors if they've had a problem.You may find that you're not the only person who can hear your noisy neighbors, especially if the problem is something like loud music, barking dogs, or angry fighting. If that's the case, asking your other neighbors to join you in complaining to the landlord may bolster your claim.
- Try talking to the neighbors on either side of the noisy tenant, as well as anyone who lives above them.
Speak to your apartment manager or landlord if the noise doesn't stop.In many cases, the noisy neighbor will be sent a notice informing them that an anonymous noise complaint has been filed. However, your landlord may also be able to recommend a solution that has worked for their other tenants, they may offer to mediate a conversation, or they may speak to the person on your behalf.
- You should be aware that this could escalate the problem.
Call your local non-emergency police number as a last resort.First responders are trained to respond to a variety of issues, including disputes between neighbors. However, they also have a lot of serious problems to deal with, so you should try to avoid calling the police unless you've repeatedly asked your neighbors to turn down the noise and it's interfering with your quality of life.
- The police can help mediate if your neighbors are aggressive or you're concerned the situation may turn explosive.
Move if none of the other options work.If none of the above solutions have worked, or your neighbors have turned hostile, you may need to move. Ask your landlord if there’s an another unit you can move to, such as an upstairs apartment. If not, you may have to break your lease.
- If your landlord is aware of the situation, they may be willing to work with you on finding another apartment, or they might allow you to break your lease without penalty.
- If moving isn’t an option, you may need to soundproof your apartment instead.
Blocking out the Sound
Put on headphones with music for sounds that don't last long.This is perfect for dealing with recurring noise that’s short-lived. Instead of getting worked up over the sound of your neighbor’s hour-long clarinet lesson, try putting on a pair of headphones with your favorite music. This will drown out the sound that’s bothering you, and you can go back to focusing on whatever you enjoy.
- If you’re feeling really upset, put on calming music, like classical music or the blues.
- If you’re trying to watch TV, get a pair of wireless headphones or turn on your television's closed captioning.
Try a white noise machine to drown out softer sounds.If your neighbors are routinely noisy while you’re trying to sleep, try putting a white noise machine in your bedroom. These machines emit a soft sound, like static, rushing water, or nature sounds, that can gently help drown out unwanted sounds from upstairs.
- You can find white noise machines at most home stores, anywhere that sells baby gear, or online.
Wear earplugs if you need more peace while you sleep.For louder sounds that you can’t drown out with a white noise machine, earplugs may help you get some piece. Industrial-strength foam earplugs form to the shape of your ear canal, blocking out sounds more effectively than other kinds.
- You can buy earplugs from drug stores and home improvement stores.
Soundproof your ceiling for a more permanent solution.If nothing else works, ask your landlord about options for soundproofing your ceiling. Most soundproofing options involve placing a second layer of material over your existing ceiling. While this may not completely block out all of the sounds from your noisy neighbor, it can cut down on it significantly.
- Some options include installing acoustic tiles held in place by a metal grid, adding a second layer of sheetrock onto the ceiling, or painting the ceiling with a dampening product like Green Glue.
- Soundproofing will not be an option in all cases, but it can be worth it to talk to your landlord to see if they'll approve the changes.
Video: 5 Tips for Dealing with Noisy Upstairs Neighbors by Audimute
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