Jessica Sommerfield on November 18, 2015 0 Comments Along with the freedom of a mobile, minimal, mortgage-free lifestyle, living in a small apartment or tiny home (unless isolated in the woods) comes with the challenge of living particularly close to other people, separated only by thin walls with few places to retreat. For the non-confrontational person, dealing with a consistently noisy neighbor is uncomfortable, because it will probably involve having to talk with them before the issue can be resolved. To the easily irritated and unabashed, a noisy neighbor provides an all-to-easy temptation to become that neighbor who goes off on someone about their barking dog. In either case, how should you deal with noisy neighbors in a way that resolves the problem without hard feelings? Step #1: Deal With Noise Issues Before You Overreact The longer you stew about something that irritates you without actually doing anything to resolve it, the more volatile your emotions may be when you finally knock on your neighbor’s door (no matter how quiet-spoken you are, normally). This doesn’t necessarily mean the first step is marching over and presenting your complaint, but actively thinking through all aspects of the problem, and how best to resolve it. Step #2: Differentiate Between Normal and Excessive Noise If you live in an apartment, thin walls might be to blame for hearing every little, routine noise your neighbor makes–walking across the floor, watching television, putting away dishes, or running a compact appliance. Recognizing that your neighbor isn’t unusually noisy will help you point the blame on a lack of insulation and avoid getting angry. That being said, all apartment dwellers should be conscious that noises may carry farther than they think. If you have the opportunity, visit a neighbor’s apartment while someone is in yours, and pay attention to what you can (and can’t) hear. It could be eye-opening! While no one should have to tip-toe around, remaining conscientious is important. For instance, do you know if some of your neighbors retire early or have young children? Playing the radio, watching a loud movie, or running a noisy appliance late at night could be inconsiderate. Communal living respects other people’s rights to peace and quiet as well as your own. On the other hand, if a neighbor is obviously creating excessive noise (music that vibrates your walls, a dog that barks at all hours, or wild carousing in the wee hours of the morning), feel free to take the next step. Step #3: Document It Everyone gets carried away once in a while and loses track of how loud they’re being. An occasional late party with loud talking and laughter should be tolerated. Write it down on the calendar, and if it becomes a consistent pattern, take further action. Meanwhile, follow one of the next few tips. Documenting the frequency of occurrences is important because it reminds you to be reasonable and rational by noticing patterns instead of single incidents. Having times and dates when you talk to your neighbor will also show you’ve put some thought into it. Step #4: Deal With Occasional Noises by Drowning Them Out If you’re easy-going or don’t have proof of a pattern, a temporary solution is to come up with ways to muffle or drown out the noise. In the summer, air conditioners and fans might do the trick, and in the winter, a humidifier. At night, use a noise machine to drown out distractions. A device-based strategy serves multiple purposes of climate controlling your home, helping you sleep better, and maintaining your sanity. Step #5: Use the Courtesy Knock When a neighbor is being so loud it can’t be drowned out, and for long enough that it’s disturbing sleep, a quick and effective solution is to knock on the adjoining wall (or ceiling, or floor). Don’t just tap–knock loudly enough you can be sure they’ll hear it, but don’t pound angrily, either. Think of it as a polite way to make them aware their noise is carrying beyond their apartment. They probably aren’t aware they’re being that loud. If the knock doesn’t work, you may have to change out of your pajamas and make a personal visit. Step #6: Polite Confrontation If knocking doesn’t work, a visit at the time the noise is occurring visually communicates the problem. You might not even have to say a word, since many times they will know instantly why you’re there, and, in their embarrassment, apologize profusely. When you’ve documented a recurring excessive noise problem, it’s important to talk to the neighbor first before going to the landlord or authorities. Remain polite, and instead of telling them they can’t engage in the activity, share your routine and how the times or the volume of their activity affects you. The goal is to increase understanding between yourselves and come up with a mutually-satisfying solution that will last (for instance, no loud media after 9pm, but weekends are fair game). Step #7: When Confrontation Doesn’t Work Even if you follow these calm, logical steps, sometimes certain neighbors might not get the point, or care. Now is time to write them a formal letter of complaint. If they haven’t responded to a verbal complaint, it’s doubtful they’ll respond to a letter, but it will make the complaint more official. Be sure to keep a copy of your written complaint for your records. You can show your copy of the letter to your landlord or the authorities as proof of your efforts if they continue to ignore your request. If there’s a noise ordinance in your city that’s being violated, mention it. This pushes the problem beyond you. Going to the landlord or the authorities should be a last resort because it might result in retaliation from your neighbor if fees are involved. Then again, if they’ve had enough complaints from other neighbors, it might be the last step to getting them forcibly evicted and providing you with new, quieter neighbors. Ultimately, when dealing with noisy neighbors in a small living space, try to resolve the situation quickly and on the friendliest terms possible.