Do you have noisy neighbors? Does it interfere with your sanctuary at home? Do you wonder if it will ever stop? If you are currently in a situation where your neighborly noise is getting out of control, here are some steps that you can take to help muzzle the problem:
1. Talk to your neighbor
Based upon individual comfort levels of noise, neighbors are oftentimes unaware that they are even creating a disturbance. Therefore, your first step is to talk to your neighbor(s) and try to resolve your differences in person. Sometimes simply bringing the situation to light solves the problem, quickly and easily.
2. Obtain a copy of your local City/County ordinance
If you cannot resolve your differences by speaking with your noisy neighbor, your next step is to get a copy of your local noise laws. City and County ordinances prohibit unreasonable, excessive noises; i.e. continuously barking dogs, blasting car and home stereos, televisions, etc. In fact, non-compliant neighbors can be subject to a warning or even a fine.
You can find your City/County ordinance at your local city hall or public library. Make a copy to give to your neighbor as a friendly, civil reminder to bring the volume down. In addition to this, keep a personal log of all annoying activities for future reference.
3. Warn your neighbor in writing
If steps 1 and 2 do not deliver results, you can warn your neighbor again—this time in writing. While you should never make deliberate threats, kindly inform your neighbor(s) that if the noisy situation does not improve, you are ready to notify the authorities. Enclose a copy of the previous noise ordinance with your letter and keep a copy of the letter for yourself, in the event you are forced to sue your neighbor in court.
4. Call the Police
If you have taken all of the steps above and your neighbor(s) still refuses to pipe down, call the police. Of course, you can call the police on a noisy neighbor the first time the noise gets too loud, no matter what the situation. But the police will be more sympathetic to you if they see that you have tried repeatedly to solve the problem in the past.
5. Sue for Nuisance
If nothing is still being done to rectify the noisy situation, you can sue your neighbor(s) in small claims court. This is bound to get your neighbor’s attention and warrant some kind of compliance, as within the lawsuit, you can ask for money to compensate for the duress and disturbance the situation has caused you from enjoying the comforts of your own home.
Before heading into court, you will need to show the following:
• The existence of excessive and disturbing noise
• A diminished enjoyment of your property due to the noise
• A repeated attempt to talk with your neighbor(s) to quash the noise; i.e. the first copy of the City/County ordinance, your warning letter, etc.
• Any police reports, recordings or testimony of neighbors and/or other witnesses.
The amount of money you can ask for in small claims court is up to $5,000, depending on your justified level of disturbance; i.e. loss of work, etc.
Further, are you a tenant of a rental property? Apart from City/County ordinances, standard leases and rental agreements contain clauses that entitle you to “quiet enjoyment” of your home. A non-compliant neighbor can be held in lease or rental agreement violation and can be evicted by the landlord/property owner as a result.
With persistence and patience, and sometimes enlisting the help of a qualified Landlord-Tenant attorney, even the most uproarious neighbors can be changed to purring street-mates. Good luck.
This article is intended to be helpful and informative. But even common legal matters can become complex and stressful. A qualified real estate lawyer can address your particular legal needs, explain the law, and represent you in court. Take the first step now and contact a local real estate attorney to discuss your specific legal situation.