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Dealing With Noisy Neighbors the Pacifist Way

Joe Landlord just received a phone call about a busted water pipe in apartment 3c, an overflowing washing machine in 2d and a broken window in 4a, so Suzy Tenant’s complaint about the “noisy neighbors” will remain low on his list of things to attend to. Perhaps, at a better time, Joe Landlord will be happy to help Suzy with her noisy neighbor dilemma. Sometimes, though, there just never is a “better time.” So what can she do in the meantime?

Because the duties as a landlord can become a bit overwhelming, sometimes, tenants don’t always get what they feel they need. Depending on how much help your landlord has, managing and maintaining a rental complex is a big job. If those work orders continue to pile up on Joe Landlord’s desk, your noisy neighbor problem might keep getting pushed aside. This is something you, as a tenant, need to be prepared for.

True, you are entitled to the “law of habitability” and that covers your right to peace and quiet after a certain time of day. True, if the landlord ignores your written complaints about your noisy neighbors after a reasonable amount of time, you may have grounds to take the situation to court. Maybe you’ll win. Maybe you’ll lose. But maybe you just don’t feel like going through the whole process.

While you shouldn’t simply learn to live with unbearable noise, you shouldn’t kill yourself trying to silence the offender. If you have approached the neighbor and explained the situation and had no luck, you can go one of two ways:

The “Fight Until Things Finally Go Your Way” Way

  1. Approach your neighbor about the problem

  2. Complain to the neighbor in writing and let them know you’re willing to tell the landlord there’s a problem if nothing’s done.

  3. Talk to your landlord and present him/her with the situation.

  4. Possibly withhold rent from the landlord until situation is fixed.

While you will definitely have results... they might not be the ones you desire. If you end up having to withhold rent from your landlord, you should be prepared for Housing Court. In court, you could lose the case, lose your money and still end up living next door to the noisy neighbors - only this time, your landlord might hold a grudge against you for making them go through all of that mess for nothing!

There’s nothing wrong with being aggressive in order to get results... I actually prefer it. However, some people would rather take the pacifist route. This is perfectly acceptable, and while the results achieved won’t be perfect, they will always be safe!

The “Pacifist” Way

For those who cringe at the thought of confrontation, there are things you can do to lessen the noise in your apartment without rocking the boat. In the article Foolproof Ways to Tune Out Your Neighbors, written by Isabel Forgang of the New York Daily News, Architect David Rockwell is quoted as saying "Fabric absorbs sound, so use plenty of it, with carpet and padding on the floor, draperies at the windows and upholstery on the walls."

Also in that article, Interior designer Bruce Bierman elaborates on Rockwell's idea. An unhappy client needed a sound barrier between his bed and the wall connecting to his neighbor's living room. Bierman wrapped a series of 18-inch high by 18-foot long plywood panels in fiberfill, then used decorative fabric over that. Once hung, the panels covered the wall between the two apartments.

Some landlords are uncomfortable allowing their tenants to nail anything to the wall. If this is the case, you can purchase bookshelves or storage units of some kind, and place them in front of the problem wall. For extra sound protection, you can cover the backs of these units with Homosote - a type of pressed cardboard. Homosote is an inexpensive material available in 4x8 foot sheets and is typically about a half inch thick. Since Homosote is not widely used, you will probably have the most luck finding it at your hometown lumberyard.

Whether you prefer to fight for your right to silence or to adjust your environment to fit with those around you, either way will lead you to having a less noisy and happier home.

Submitted by:

Dan The Roommate Man

Since 1989 Dan The Roommate Man has helpe 1000's people find roommates. Need help? Contact him at 800-487-8050 or www.roommateexpress.com

info@roommateexpress.com





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