If you ever find yourself on the receiving end of a noise complaint, the most important thing you can do is keep your cool. Expressing anger will only make your landlord or the police officers — whoever comes to deliver the message — convinced that you’re to blame. That’s why learning how to deal with unreasonable noise complaints is crucial to living in a world where everyone is getting antsier by the day.
If you believe the noise complaints lodged against you are unreasonable, chances are — you’re right. Still, your accusers are probably going to need some convincing. With that in mind, let’s start by talking about what noise complaints are and when they could be considered unreasonable.
How Can You Tell if a Noise Complaint Is Unreasonable?
Usually, a noise complaint comes in the form of a warning from your landlord. But if you’re a homeowner, rather than a tenant, the noise complaint might go through local law enforcement. So how should you defend yourself? Well, whether your would-be accuser talks to your landlord or the cops, the following factors should be in your favor:
- The number of people complaining (if a complaint is unreasonable, it will most likely be coming from a single person)
- The frequency of the complaints (a single person filing noise reports without the support of other people would make the complaints look unsubstantiated)
- Examples of previous false accusations (which may exist in police records)
- The nature of the supposed disturbance (if the complaint refers to everyday sounds or activities, your landlord and the police will see it as being unreasonable)
Of course, it would help if, when the authorities in question come to look into the noise, they found your place quiet. But even if they don’t, though, certain sounds are usually exempt from being considered disruptive. Namely, most law enforcement officers will disregard complaints regarding the sounds of:
- Domestic appliances
- Squeaky floorboards
- Toilets flushing
- Doors banging
- Children playing or crying
Even in these cases, the noise should be short-lived and infrequent for the authorities to dismiss the complaint. If these sounds happen often during inappropriate times, the police may consider the noise complaint reasonable. For that reason, you might want to stick to using your blender during the daytime.
How to Deal With Unreasonable Noise Complaints
At this point, you should have some idea of what constitutes an unreasonable noise complaint. Now, all you have to do is learn how to deal with testy neighbors.
Diffuse the Situation
If you’re dealing with unreasonable people, sometimes it’s best to swallow your pride and just apologize. In fact, that’s usually the best way to avoid having a noise complaint lodged against you in the first place. After all, most people will speak to you directly before getting landlords and police officers involved.
If you are confronted by an angry neighbor, you should respond promptly and respectfully. Maybe even offer your phone number so they can text you any time they feel like you’re too loud. That should diffuse the situation before the neighbor starts plotting revenge.
Keep It Down
As you know, an apology isn’t worth much if you don’t change the behavior that caused the original offense. So to appease your noise-sensitive neighbors, you’ll also want to keep the noise to a minimum, at least for the time being. They might be going through something that’s made them extra irritable, so you might as well keep your head down.
With that in mind, you can try lowering the volume on your TV and speakers or even using headphones. If you don’t want to do that, you can just move your speakers up from the floor and away from the walls. That should reduce the volume of sound that’s reaching your neighbors.
Read up on Local Noise Ordinance Laws
If you want to avoid evictions and police records, the best thing you can do is abide by the law — as well as your building codes. To do that, you’ll want to study local noise regulation.
Believe it or not, noise regulation is a subject that’s covered by the Environmental Protection Agency. Continuous, disruptive sounds that go on during quiet hours — which can be between 10 pm and 8 am, depending on where you live — are serious infractions. They can actually affect the well-being of people and animals.
So if you’re wondering whether the noise complaint against you is legitimate, consider the time when the alleged noise occurred. If it happened around your state’s quiet hours, try to curb your behavior. Otherwise, the next complaint won’t seem so unreasonable to your landlord or the police.
Train Your Dog Not to Bark
As much as you love your dog, you probably know better than anyone how annoying its bark can be. So if your neighbors are complaining about the noises your dog is making, you should understand where they’re coming from. More importantly, you should attempt to teach your dog some manners.
If you can’t sign your pet up for some obedience classes, there are plenty of online tutorials you can follow to get your dog to stop barking in inappropriate situations. That particular vocalization should be reserved for outdoor play or signaling danger.
On the other hand, if your neighbors are primarily complaining about the sound of your dog’s paws clicking on the floor above their hands, there are other solutions you can apply. For one, you can clip or grind down your pet’s nails. Additionally, you might want to lay down some thicker carpets or at least restrict your dog’s access to rooms that don’t have any.
Replace Loud Appliances With Quiet Counterparts
As you know, if the person behind the noise complaint objected to your use of household appliances, no one would bother you about it. Unless you’re aggressively vacuuming your place during the local quiet hours, there’s nothing you can do to reduce the sound your appliances make. Well, there’s one thing you can do — get newer, quieter devices.
Ultimately, most of the appliances in your home can be quieter — from dishwashers and coffee grinders to electric toothbrushes and hair clippers. Even if you can’t afford a better device at the moment, you can simply adjust the way you use them. For example, you could make it a point to only grind your coffee in the middle of the day and make sure to do it behind closed doors.
Even equipment like treadmills and exercise bikes can be quieter. You just have to identify the true source of the noise.
If your neighbors are mainly complaining about squeaking sounds, the problem is with the machine itself. You’ll either have to get a new one or fix the one you have. On the other hand, if the main problem is that your exercise machine is amplifying impact noise, you can solve the problem by sliding a rubber foam mat under it.
Soundproof Your Home
If you want to dampen the volume of sound that’s leaving your home, you should use soundproofing techniques and materials. That’s the best way to make sure your irritable neighbors have nothing to complain about. So what are some of the most effective ways to soundproof your home?
Well, that all depends on the kind of home you’ve got. If you live in a penthouse apartment, your main focus should be the floor. You should either upgrade your carpets with underlays or do a full remodel of the surface. If you have people living in the surrounding units, you’ll also need to address the walls.
On the other hand, if you live in a house and the complaints are mainly to do with backyard parties, you’d have to use a different set of guidelines. For example, having an outdoor structure like a shed or a pergola should reduce the noise somewhat. To increase the structure’s insulating properties, you could also use soundproof room divider curtains.
Notify Your Neighbors When You Have to Be Loud
Sitting in traffic is only frustrating if you got in the car expecting a green wave. Otherwise, it’s just a mild inconvenience. Similarly, loud noises are usually even more annoying when you aren’t expecting them.
With that in mind, the best way to avoid noise complaints and effectively placate your neighbors is to let them know when you’re planning to be loud ahead of time. Some of the occasions you might want to warn them about include:
- Music lessons (or, if you have set aside time for practice sessions, you can let them know about that)
- Renovations around the house (unless you’re just painting walls)
- Yard work that requires power tools (although some of them, like lawnmowers and leaf blowers, also have quieter components)
- Parties that are bound to get raucous (though one way to keep your neighbors from getting testy would be to invite them over, too)
Notifying your neighbors a few days in advance would allow them to leave the premises before the noise starts. Alternatively, they’ll have a chance to arm themselves with noise-canceling headphones. Either way, the heads-up is sure to be appreciated.
Besides, having issued a notice ahead of the noisy event will be an advantage if the police comes calling. After all, you’ll be able to produce evidence that the person who issued the noise complaint was notified. Hopefully, that will prevent any unpleasant encounters.
Why Should You Placate Neighbors Who File Unreasonable Noise Complaints, Anyway?
Ultimately, dealing with unreasonable noise complaints is something we all have to do at one point or another. When that happens, the best thing to do is just try to reduce the volume of noise you’re producing and carry on with your day. After all, you never know why people are grumpy enough to file a complaint so you might as well stay out of their way
Either way, receiving multiple noise complaints could reflect badly on you. On the one hand, you may end up having to fork over thousands of dollars in fines. In the worst-case scenario, you could find yourself facing eviction! So if being quiet for a few days is all it takes to prevent all that — why wouldn’t you do it?
- Can You Make An Anonymous Noise Complaint To The Police?
- How To Annoy Your Upstairs Neighbors Into Being Quieter