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How to Deal with a Noisy Neighbor

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By Javier Lavagnino, Esq. on April 22, 2009 9:16 AM

We've all had those nights...You know, the ones where you lie in bed and simply can't believe anyone would play music so loud, at such an un-be-lie-vable hour of night. Or perhaps your upstairs neighbors are night owls and like to do their vacuuming, dish-washing, or exercise routine after midnight. Regardless, now that the winter months have passed, the likelihood of loud parties or other potentially noisy activities may rise too.

So what do you do when you just can't take it any more and you would like to be able to get through a workday without having your forehead hitting the keyboard in front of you?

Generally, the first thing to do is to talk to your neighbor to see if the situation can be resolved without resorting to the legal system.  This will likely be simpler and less stressful for all concerned, and it's important when doing so to keep your cool. Being nice (or at least polite, if you can't work up the will to be nice) is far more likely to achieve results than, say, pounding on a door, wall, floor, or ceiling.

If this attempt fails, it's a good idea to next document your complaint, perhaps by writing a letter to your neighbor and saving a copy. This will be helpful in case legal proceedings occur later on down the line (make sure you save any written response from them too). If that also doesn't resolve the issue, check your local noise ordinance, which you will probably be able to find online.  There is likely a municipal ordinance for your area that limits the decibel level of permissible noise, and once you've found out, you can notify your neighbor of the law.

Should none of these informal approaches work, you have the option to call the police to ask your neighbor to turn the noise down, and possibly issue a warning or ticket. If none of these steps gets the job done, and you've determined that your neighbor's noise violates the law, you have the option of proceeding in small claims court for money damages, or you can seek an order to stop the noise in regular court.  Before you take this measure, make sure to document your complaint, as discussed earlier, and look for other people in your area who may be able to corroborate your claim as witnesses.

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