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Blog July 9, 2021

How to Deal With Neighbors That Complain About Everything

Posted in Moving Day Tips
Michael Vaughan

Moving through the Bay Area, Michael works as a freelance writer in the moving and transportation industry.

Everyone has faced a noisy neighbor at some time in their lives. But how to deal with neighbors that complain about everything? If you are a decent tenant who obeys the rules and quiet hours, and you’re still facing complaints from other tenants, how should you deal with this uncomfortable situation?

There are many questions, and you must know what the proper response is, according to what is socially acceptable and what is required by law. Conflicts with the people next door can be very annoying and stressful, especially if you have only recently moved into your new home. When it comes to your daily (and nightly) regular activities, try to be honest with yourself and look at it from another angle. Put yourself in your neighbor’s shoes and ask yourself whether you are being inconsiderate, or if they are overreacting.

Whatever the conclusion is, you should find the right way to handle the situation. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to do that.

What Is Unacceptable Behaviour and What is a Normal Day-To-Day Routine?

Socially undesirable behavior is defined in some legal systems as an activity that has caused or is going to produce alarm, harassment, or distress to any person. Anti-social behavior in housing has some specific definitions, such as “conduct capable of causing nuisance or annoyance to a person concerning [their] occupation of residential premises” and “conduct capable of causing housing-related nuisance or annoyance to any person.”

Anti-social behavior in housing can include:

  • Loud noise from a neighbor
  • Harassment, such as threats or verbal abuse
  • Property damage, vandalism, and graffiti
  • Dumping rubbish, abandoning cars, and fly-posting
  • Animal nuisance

If your daily activities are acceptable and are related to tasks that have to be done – your walking, cooking, or having a conversation with other family members, you should know that those actions are socially tolerable.

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What Are the Quiet Hours in an Apartment Building?

Quiet hours are set times when tenants must be particularly respectful – usually during the morning and night. Unnecessary or excessive noise is prohibited if it is above a certain decibel level. These quiet hours differ on weekdays and weekends but mostly begin at 10 p.m.

Ask Neighbors About the Details of the Recent Complaint

If the person next door or the landlord has a complaint about your behavior, you should ask them for details. For instance, ask for the date and time when the issue occurred and how it affected them. Sometimes, a neighbor will knock on your door and complain directly to you. You can tell them you need to think about the problem. After a few days, you’ll answer it. If you feel uncomfortable speaking to them in person, you can write a note or take a friend with you as support.

A smile and reasonable conversation can work miracles

How to Deal with Neighbors that Complain About Everything – Check If Their Allegations Are Valid

You can hear accusations and realize that they are not objective. In some situations, the noise might come from a different home. Depending on the level of their allegations and the amount of your fault, you can choose an appropriate reaction. Keep in mind that there is a thin line between love and hate, and you should carefully choose your words to avoid escalating the conflict.

What if the Accusations Are Not Valid

If you disagree with the complaint, the best solution is to explain why you cannot comply with their demands. Be prepared for a new situation you’ll have to deal with if they decide to report you to someone else. Here are several options to consider if the issue reaches a third party:

  • Keep a record of what you say and how they reply
  • Get proof – the best option is to take a photo or video of the object of complaint in case they claim something else happened
  • You can always try to reach a compromise

Try to Change Your Behaviour

If you are lucky enough, your neighbor will act reasonably, and there will be no need for any confrontation. Listen to them and emphasize that you understand the problem. You should know that, usually, even just a tiny change in your habits can solve the problem. Talking on your phone less loudly in the evening hours, or just making the call at a different time may transform the relationship between you and your neighbor. Bad-tempered people next to you can easily turn into kind human beings. When all is said and done, your home is where you make it.

Mediation Can Help

Sometimes, reasonable conversation, photos as relevant proof, or changing your small daily habits aren’t enough to alleviate extreme behavior. If you want to avoid going to court, call an independent mediator to listen to you and your neighbor’s views. After that, they will try to help you reach an agreement or compromise.

If the conflict escalates, consider using the help of a mediator

The Landlord and Board of the Building Should React

When noise is a problem, landlords or boards should step in to work on sound isolation. Whatever difficulties you are facing, they should react to work out the issue. Landlords, local authorities, and housing associations have more power. That’s why you should ask them to provide you with housing-related help.

Sometimes, the Police Must Be Included

Calling the cops can be a radical but efficient measure in case you get tired of dealing with a grumpy neighbor. Instead of calling 911, call your local police station and report harassment. Usually, having an officer show up at the door is enough to get most people to tone it down.

Tips on How to Make Your Apartment Quieter

If thin walls are the root of the problem, and you cannot speak, walk, listen to music, or watch TV without constant complaining, then you should undertake specific measures to ensure peace in your own home. Some of them include:

  • Position a piece of furniture, like a bookshelf – it will act as a second wall
  • If you find a hole, fill it with glue
  • Use soundproofing blankets
  • Place foam mats
  • Use acoustic foams
  • Paint the walls with soundproofing paint if there’s not much noise
Soundproof your walls and enjoy your home

An Immediate Solution If You Rent Your Apartment  – Get a White Noise Machine

A white noise machine is an excellent option if you are renting a place. This machine will provide soundproofing, not only for your home but for yourself as well. They work by neutralizing loud background sounds. You might like this solution as an additional level of noise-proofing, besides all the other methods.

Other People’s Stories and Advice Can Be Useful

Sometimes, other people’s experiences and advice might be precious for solving your issues. If you have a friend who has recently gone through a similar situation, they will know what kind of advice to give you.

If all other tips and methods fail to solve the problem, your last-resort option would be to move out. That is, if this is a viable solution for you and if your budget can sustain the whole process of relocation. Find a new place, get professional moving services, pack your belongings, and schedule your moving date. If you find the right neighborhood to move to, you won’t have to deal with such unpleasant scenarios anymore.

Speak with others and find out how they solved their problems with the neighbors

Let the Environmental Health Department Decide if There’s a Problem

Finally, if nothing of the above mentioned solved your problem, you should think about reaching out to the Environmental Health Department. The environmental health officers are responsible both for monitoring public and ecological health and enforcing it.

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