How Should You Deal With an Unruly Neighbor?

You’ve put down a deposit on your dream apartment. The ceilings are super high, the hardwood floors are gorgeous, you have tons of space, the kitchen is huge, and you live in a quiet, convenient location. However, after moving in, you’ve discovered something you couldn’t quite have known before moving in: One of your neighbors is nightmarishly loud. 

What do you do in this situation? You can’t quite control other people, especially ones you don’t live with, yet you can’t just let your neighbor’s racket go unacknowledged. That loud music blaring through the wall at midnight is eventually going to transform from a nuisance to a serious problem that interferes with your comfort and happiness. Don’t let it – you’ll need to be tactful to deal with an unruly neighbor. Here’s how to make your needs heard and, hopefully, acknowledged.

See whether you’re alone

If your apartment is one of many in your building, talk with your other neighbors about the unruly neighbor. Do your other neighbors share your concerns? If so, you’ll know for certain that your concerns are validated (but if not, maybe you’ll need to reconsider whether your neighbor is truly being unruly). 

You can also work with these neighbors to deal with your unruly neighbor. Maybe your neighbors have dealt with this unruly neighbor in the past. No matter what, talking with your neighbors will shed tremendous insight and serve as a vital first step.

Talk to the unruly neighbor

Unless you think the unruly neighbor is violent or standoffish – screaming matches and the sounds of objects being thrown, loudly dropped, or otherwise destroyed are your cues to avoid the neighbor and choose other routes – a simple knock on their door and a calm, casual conversation might do the trick. It’s completely possible that your unruly neighbor has been unaware of how loud their music is or that anything else they’re doing might be making its way into your apartment. If they apologize and say they’ll clean up their act, they might just mean it.

Call the landlord

If you’re unable to talk with your neighbor or they don’t budge when you do talk to them, it’s time to get your landlord involved. Most leases involve something akin to a “quiet enjoyment” clause that requires all renters in a building to respect the spaces of not just their roommates, but their neighbors. Unruly neighbors are thus violating their leases, meaning that the landlord can step in. However, some landlords can be reticent to enter arguments between tenants unless potential property damage is involved. Even if the matter is relatively minor, your landlord may be more sympathetic to you if you tell them you’ve already spoken with the unruly neighbor, so calling your landlord should always follow the attempted neighbor conversation.

As your last resort, involve the police

Generally, involving the police in housing matters is an extreme overstep. However, if your unruly neighbor is consistently having shouting matches or displaying signs of violence, you may want to take this step. When you suspect violence, you may actually be helping a person stuck in an abusive situation or even saving a life if you call the police. In all other situations, though, police involvement should be an absolute last resort, even for that obnoxiously loud 4 a.m. party – that one’s better addressed with a calm, polite conversation the next day in hopes it won’t happen again.

If you’ve had unruly neighbors, how have you dealt with them? Share your advice in the comments!

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