How to handle a really loud neighbor?
October 1, 2010 8:27 AM   Subscribe

My next door neighbor is a very loud talker/yeller and seems mentally unstable. How do I handle?

I live in an older building with very thin walls, so I can hear everything through them. Recently a couple moved in next door and the woman is incredibly loud - just a loud talker, I'm not referring to music or anything else that others have complained about. Loud, irritating, incessant talking.

This is bad enough, but for the second time she has woken me up in the wee hours yelling at the top of her lungs at her husband. The first time I put in ear plugs, and then immediately moved my bed so it's not near the adjoining wall. Now my bed is across the room, and I still heard her being insane last night.

I know the answer is going to be "talk to her." I suppose that would make sense with a rational person, but since I hear her conversations the entire day long, I can tell you she is certifiable. She's very immature, so I think she's the kind of person who would complain loudly about me and then be even louder.

Since it's just talking/yelling I'm not sure even the landlord would be interested - so I guess these are my options, and please let me know if there are more:

- Move - this will be happening in 8 months, but it would be a pain to move now for less than a year and move again, so I'd rather not

- Complain to landlord - not sure I really have grounds: "she's annoying and loud"?

- Talk to her husband - he seems to realize she's really loud, but... awkward?

posted by rainydayfilms to Human Relations (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Call the police when she gets into shouting matches with her husband. They shouldn't be so loud and, who knows, perhaps they need to be told to calm down from an authority figure. Maybe you'll even stop a domestic abuse situation (mental abuse is still abuse).
posted by inturnaround at 8:31 AM on October 1, 2010 [12 favorites]

Talk to your landlord. Loud noise is loud noise.
posted by murrey at 8:32 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

I would approach it through the landlord (you don't want to be on the bad side of a loud, possibly crazy person). If you don't think "she's annoying and loud" will get the landlord to act, you can say, "I hear the couple in [apt #] arguing loudly in the middle of the night, and the yelling frequently continues into the daytime. I'm concerned." It's not a lie, but it stresses issues that would be more check-in-with-them worthy than the bulk of what's going on. I doubt anything will come of it, but you should definitely try.
posted by phunniemee at 8:32 AM on October 1, 2010 [3 favorites]

- Complain to landlord - not sure I really have grounds: "she's annoying and loud"?

YES. You have a right to live there in reasonable peace and quiet. It's the landlord's job to make sure that happens as best s/he can. I do not think you should talk to the neighbor or her husband; chance are nothing will change except more crazy -- being direct at you.

I really feel you. I really, really do.

I ended up moving to a new unit in the same building. Can you ask your landlord if that's an option? I was lucky enough to have the landlord in the apartment fixing my bathroom (as far away from Crazy Neighbor as possible) and then have him say to me, "Wow, he's so loud it sounds like he's in your living room."

Definitely call your landlord, explain the situation. If you're doubted, record the clamor. Keep calling the landlord until it's resolved one way or another (hopefully a new unit....this will keep crazy being flung at you to a minimum).
posted by motsque at 8:34 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

Knowing your location would be helpful. We're having noisy neighbour problems, and I was surprised to find that my local bylaws state that any noise that disturbs residents is unlawful - there are no limits on hours or what constitutes a disturbing level of noise. Check out what your local bylaws say and then bring it to the landlord's attention.

Generally I would say that talking to the noise-makers is a good first step, but it sounds like it may be counter-productive in this situation. Our noise-making neighbour has responded to our notes and requests for quiet by leaving his stereo on full blast 24 hours/day.

If the landlord refuses to do anything or is unable to resolve the situation, it's time to involve the cops. Start documenting noise outbreaks now - date, time, volume, etc - so you've got something to back up your complaints with.
posted by flipper at 8:37 AM on October 1, 2010

I know the answer is going to be "talk to her."

No, it's not. And definitely don't go to the husband. This is something your landlord needs to take care of, anonymously. If that doesn't work, you go to the police as it is happening in the middle of the night. Stress "yelling at" rather than just "yelling." You might need to do it more than once but if you go to the police enough times and they'll go to the landlord.
posted by griphus at 8:37 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm in a similar situation right now with downstairs. I waited it out for an entire year and in a way that was good. I recently had to talk to the person in question about something totally else, and she was behaving quite reasonably and not nearly as insane as I had made her in my imagination.
What I also learned is that the flat below is occupied by her grandma as well (whom I had interpreted as "the other girl, the reasonable one with the soft voice") who seems to be more or less immobile. So the odd hours (as in all night long), the venting of stress, shouting fits, agonized phone calls with daddy (half of which I can understand verbatim) etc. do actually seem to have a reason beyond "this person is insane".

My recommendation would be to first make sure whether your analysis "mentally unstable" is all the way correct. So either try, kindly, to contact the person in question directly, or at least, even more kindly, her husband in order to fish out what the deal is.
Make clear that you have a problem sleeping due to odd-hours noise, ask them kindly to try keeping their voices down if they happen to have to discuss stuff at night. It will be immediately evident whether these people are reasonable or not.

If this doesn't work, contact the landlord and find out whether they are willing to act on your behalf in any way. This is better than to guess about their attitude. Of course you have grounds. You pay rent for a living space, meaning that you can't be ending up in an unlivable situation. No sleep is out of the question.

If none of this works, you might consider making a stink of some sorts (to which I'd count: call the cops), or move.
posted by Namlit at 8:54 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oof, that's a pain. I say go through the landlord, but also realize that she probably can't/won't change this behaviour quickly so you may wanna do a few things on your side of the wall to lessen your irritation. Hanging acoustic foam and/or a thick curtain on the adjoining wall and putting foam sealers under the outlet plates on that wall should help a bit with the noise.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:09 AM on October 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

Call the police each time it happens. This isn't really the sort of thing you should be sorting out on your own. If you're lucky, they'll cite the person for a noise violation each time.

I figure this is your most viable option, as many people are predisposed to ignore any concern or complaint directed their way, no matter how reasonable. Where some financial disincentive is attached, however, you are much more likely to see an otherwise impossible change in behaviour.
posted by astrochimp at 9:17 AM on October 1, 2010

I had an issue like this a long time ago, and the couple lived above us. Shouting and crying and thumping added up to domestic violence to me, so I began calling the police. I would have never forgiven myself if something awful happened and I did nothing.


I second calling in a domestic violence sitch to the police. Make sure you tell them you don't want them to stop by your apartment first, or at all, in fear of reprisal. After a few of these calls, let the landlord know that you will continue to call until the sitch has been addressed and resolved.

No landlord wants the police hanging around their building every night. Bad for business.
posted by kidelo at 9:20 AM on October 1, 2010 [2 favorites]

I had an emotionally unstable woman live above me for a while. She used to scream and shout at her boyfriend, who always seemed to stay quite calm. He eventually got sick of her, and thew her out! Happy days. Hopefully your neighbour will do the same.
posted by derbs at 9:54 AM on October 1, 2010

Do you pay rent?

If so, then you are paying for service and a habitable apartment. The age of the building and the thin walls are the landlord's problem. You pay for this to be the landlord's problem.

Call the landlord.

Yelling in the middle of the night?

Call the police then notify the landlord.

Yes check your local bylaws. Yes look into another unit. Yes be reasonable when you speak with the landlord, but do understand this problem is 1 million times his (hers?) and not yours.
posted by jbenben at 10:05 AM on October 1, 2010

I talked to the landlord, who immediately said he sent them a note and will let me know what happens. I guess this is actually worthy of complaining, thanks for the sanity check on that.

And I will call the police next time, I'm glad to hear that's considered reasonable.
posted by rainydayfilms at 10:10 AM on October 1, 2010

I vote for calling the police. Just do it anonymously!
posted by easilyconfused at 3:43 PM on October 1, 2010

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