7 Tips for Keeping the Peace (and Quiet) With Noisy Neighbors

updated May 6, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The other night I became a total apartment-living cliché. It was 5am and my upstairs neighbor had been hitting snooze (yet again) on her siren-pitched alarm clock for close to an hour. I finally stormed out of bed, stomped to the broom closet, and gave my ceiling several vigorous whacks. Not my best moment, or morning.

To keep you from meeting the same pre-dawn fate (and well, looking like a lunatic), I thought I’d research more neighborly etiquette. Here goes:

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  • It’s easy to forget when you’re in the moment, but remember to calm down (to be fair, I talked to my neighbor in person before the broom incident) and start with a polite intro. As we all know, you won’t accomplish anything by attacking them and many people aren’t aware that you can hear them. For example, I had an upstairs neighbor who worked late and could only workout at midnight, on his treadmill, above my bed/head. He was testy at first when I brought it up but I finally asked politely if there was another room where he could put the treadmill. Luckily, there was and it was no longer an issue.
  • Sweeten the deal. Bring up some treats as a peace offering (try this no-bake cookie recipe from The Kitchn). I’ve never actually tried this method, but it can’t hurt, right?
  • If you don’t feel comfortable approaching the person in person, you can leave a note (possibly funny but lose the sarcasm) letting them know that you can hear their music playing or sex-making or whatever. Make a copy of the letter though and date it to keep track of correspondence in case this turns into a bigger issue later.
  • If the problem still occurs after a couple reminders, talk to your landlord. He or she may be able to offer a solution that worked for other tenants or encourage the neighbor to put down rugs or address the problem. You can remind him or her if your lease has a noise clause too, which grants you the right to quiet.
  • Try to take the matter into your own hands. Earplugs helped me out when I lived above a bar in NYC. White noise machines also work. And never, ever move above a karaoke bar that closes at 4am!
  • I was once the noisy neighbor because the floors in my apartment weren’t insulated and the guy below could hear my footsteps, which apparently sounded like an elephant. We exchanged cell phone numbers so he could text me when it was too loud. I also never wore shoes indoors and made sure to put a rug pad and rug over the creakiest parts.
  • If all else fails, the broom thing actually worked (fingers crossed, but it’s been quiet for a week!). I had tried #1 and she was apologetic, but this time she got the point. Loud and clear.

Have you had a positive noisy neighbor experience? Share below!