Manners Matter: Annoying, Noisy Neighbors

Dear Mary Pat,

The people who live right beneath me in my apartment building “treat me” to their loud music at various points during the day. The people across the hall entertain several nights a week – loudly and well into the night. (I wish I had that many friends!) It seems that one of the two occupants isn’t capable of saying anything at a normal volume because I can always hear his voice shouting above all the others during their parties. Don’t even get me started on the probable lack of mask wearing by the partygoers.

I’ve discussed these situations with the apartment managers, but I understand that there’s only so much they can do to control behavior. Plus, I hate to be “that person” who complains every few days. One manager suggested that I call the police when things get too loud, but that seemed like an extreme reaction and a waste of police resources. 

I realize I could knock on either door to politely ask the occupants to keep the noise down, but it’s very much not in my nature to have such interactions – even friendly, respectful ones – and there’s always the chance that things could turn ugly if my request is not well received.

Do you have any suggestions?

Just Want My Quiet

Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin

Dear Just Want My Quiet,

You could certainly try asking politely once. I suspect that it might fall on deaf ears because they’re already showing a lack of concern for their neighbors. Simply put, they have to be at least aware that they’re loud and don’t really care. In apartment/duplex/townhome living, you’d hope that people would show more consideration, but it’s not always the case. 

There are a few things that you could try from your end that might be helpful. 

• Try renting in another part of the building.

• Make sure that your front door doesn’t have any cracks where sound is getting in. Ask your landlord to seal any cracks, or try getting a door draft stopper. Check your windows for cracks as well. 

• Add more artwork to your walls to help absorb some of the sound. Adding rugs with rubber backing and soundproofing ceiling panels might help as well, but check with your landlord before affixing anything permanent. Better yet, ask the landlord to pay for some of the soundproofing. He or she might say no, but it’s still worth checking and will serve as a further alert to the seriousness of the problem.

• Invest in a white-noise machine, or keep a fan on during the evening hours. 

• Consider rearranging your furniture in a way that will put more distance between your neighbor’s apartment and where you need the most quiet – most likely your bedroom. 

Calling the police for noise complaints usually makes the situation more tense, so use that as an absolute last resort.

Good luck,

Mary Pat

Miss Pat was educated at the Finnish Finishing School for Fine Ladies. Eloquent in edifying etiquette, she is fluent in seven languages, including the language of love. Mary Pat has generously extended her counsel to you and will answer any and all inquiries. Email Mary Pat at [email protected].