What can i realistically do about my neighbors awful kid?
July 17, 2015 8:06 PM   Subscribe

I live in an apartment that's very close to the next building over. In that building, there's a family with a kid i initially thought was a toddler... he's actually 5-6. Every day at the strike of 8 they open all their windows and the kid runs around the house screaming. He also does this for hours after school/summer camp.

I'm well aware that there's kind of two camps on this(as seen in threads like this), and unfortunately their landlord who lives in the penthouse of their building is firmly in the "Kids are kids, kids make noise, get over it!" camp.

Both of the buildings are built like bunkers, and have modern multi pane windows. With their windows closed, i have to stick my head out my window to even hear the kid. The problem is that as soon as the kid starts yelling they open ALL their windows. They have AC and usually keep their windows closed for that. But yelling kid? Open. It's like they want everyone to suffer with them.

I've complained to my landlord, whose spoken to them and their landlord. They were rude and flippant, their landlord basically accused us of hating kids, and that went nowhere. Everyone in my side of my building complained when asked. Our landlord suggested they switch rooms with their kid because their other window faces a blank wall and parking garage, but they balked because "all his toys wouldn't fit in the other room!".

They're methodical about keeping the kid quiet during city noise ordinance hours, but right when the clock hits 8, all the windows open and he's screaming. And it's not like, giggles and play noises. Burned at the stake screaming and shrieking. Occasional toys smashing even.(a couple of days ago, i'm fairly sure he threw a smashed up wagon out his window) His parents just laugh at him like a dog chasing his tail, and i've even heard his dad imitate his screams back at him while stoner chuckling. My upstairs neighbor was crying, and he leaned out the window and screamed fake crying back at her.

What can i realistically do about this, and how do i regain my sanity without committing a felony? The parents are firmly in the "everyone hates us for no reason and they're all so mean!" camp. I love my place, and don't want to move, but i'm asleep at 8am because i work afternoons and i've been sleeping suicidal amounts.

Am i completely wrong for being upset by this? I mean, i guess it's outside of noise ordinance hours and "normal people are awake at 8" or whatever. I'm a champion of putting up with reasonable amounts of other-people noise in shared living situations, but this just comes off as totally ridiculous to me.

I've tried leaving a fan running, but the kid screams so loud and it's so close to my bedroom window that it just overpowers it.

(Earplugs are not an option or solution for various reasons, nor is keeping all my windows shut because it's freaking hot in here and... really?)
posted by emptythought to Human Relations (36 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
There's always the passive-aggressive "noise battle" option. It's not mature or polite but I've resorted to it a couple times in the distant past when all else failed. Kid screams? Right then crank up the radio. Kid screams again? Louder. They'll get the idea.

Otherwise, a more mature option would be to form some kind of coalition of neighbors and have them each take turns complaining until they're truly shamed into stopping.

Or perhaps even a police visit due to "loud screaming?"

Disclaimer: I may be evil, sometimes you have to fight fire with fire when nice doesn't work.
posted by quincunx at 8:14 PM on July 17, 2015 [6 favorites]

They're methodical about keeping the kid quiet during city noise ordinance hours

Does your city have a noise ordinance which mentions decibel levels?
posted by 23skidoo at 8:15 PM on July 17, 2015 [10 favorites]

Two things are true:

1.) They are inconsiderate and awful.
2.) You will not be able to get them to stop, and so must move.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 8:16 PM on July 17, 2015 [34 favorites]

Move? Seriously, if you rent, that's your best option. I had a similar situation with construction from 8am until late afternoon. I just up and left. No regrets.
posted by deathpanels at 8:17 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

If it were me, and was truly driving me insane, I'd try approaching them directly with as much compassion and empathy as you can muster, explain your sleep schedule, and ask them clearly but politely if they'd close the windows. I don't think there's anything else you can do.
posted by latkes at 8:18 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend you invest in a window A/C unit for yourself so you can keep your own windows closed, since it appears you only have a problem when BOTH sets of windows are open.
posted by Andrhia at 8:21 PM on July 17, 2015 [21 favorites]

Get an air conditioner? Then you can keep your windows closed, and it doubles as a white noise generator.
posted by rodlymight at 8:21 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

I should have put that in the original post, but AC is also not an option for several reasons(i believe it might also be against building rules). It also, like the fan -and i intentionally used a quite noisy commercial shop fan-, wouldn't actually be loud enough to make a significant impact on the noise.
posted by emptythought at 8:24 PM on July 17, 2015

I fear this child has some serious behavioral issues and we should all send nice thoughts to his parents. Screaming nonstop (if this is not hyperbole) is not normal.
Or maybe these parents are neglecting him. That's sad too.

Call the police. They won't say who complained.

But moving might be your only option.
posted by k8t at 8:42 PM on July 17, 2015 [17 favorites]

I can't sleep with a window open because my neighbor puts their dog out at 6 am every morning and it begins barking loudly and incessantly. Seriously I have found that the only thing that works even a bit is keeping your window shut and using an AC. Even an in-room AC if you can't use a window unit. Often if I don't want to use AC all night, I sleep with the window open and wake myself up to shut my window/turn on AC just before their dog is due to be let out, then I go back to sleep for another hour. Basically you have to figure out imperfect solutions that aren't optimal but that will help you get more sleep.
If you don't want to keep your own windows shut on a hot day, realize they are not going to want to keep theirs shut either. They probably aren't opening the windows to make noise, but because it's hot for them too. You are the one who has the motive to shut the windows so until you can move you really have to figure out a way to make that work.
posted by flourpot at 8:47 PM on July 17, 2015 [8 favorites]

Call in a domestic disturbance to 911, say a child screaming. The police will come and hear the screaming.

You can do this until the habit of noise stops. I recognize that calling the police is not what it used to be, and that there may be unwanted consequences. I can't think of another option, though.
posted by jbenben at 8:49 PM on July 17, 2015 [31 favorites]

Seconding what jbenben said above, but get your neighbors to call the cops as well. You can pretend to be merely a concerned neighbour...
posted by cgg at 9:02 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

Please do not pretend to the police that you think the child is screaming in a dangerous situation just because you need quiet.
posted by flourpot at 9:10 PM on July 17, 2015 [60 favorites]

Neighbor noise can make life hell and you are not a bad or crazy person for hating this.

Otherwise, a more mature option would be to form some kind of coalition of neighbors and have them each take turns complaining until they're truly shamed into stopping.

I think that's the best option. Everybody should keep complaining to the landlord until he's annoyed enough to do something about it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 9:16 PM on July 17, 2015 [8 favorites]

I have children with special needs. I am worried that this child has unsupported special needs or that he is being neglected or abused. Parents imitating his cries? That's not okay. I would encourage you to call police or child protection as a concerned bystander and explain what is going on. If there is a medical concern or a protection concern, perhaps they can get this family some help.

My children scream bloody murder as part of their special needs. There's nothing I can do about it. I am not always great about it and I'm pretty sure some of my neighbours hate me. I have to crack open windows sometimes, because my child has sensory issues and gets overheated during these attacks. But I'm not a stoner, I'm not insulting or mocking my kids and I just get kind of shouty or short with them - I don't insult them or call them names - and that's because it is just relentless.

Maybe this family needs help.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 9:34 PM on July 17, 2015 [51 favorites]

Without going into too much detail about my own experience, you could try the "playing classical music at the 7-11" strategy.
posted by rhizome at 9:41 PM on July 17, 2015 [3 favorites]

You can enjoy these funny YouTube videos about paying back noisy neighbors, noise for noise. Here's another. Here is an insanity-producing mix of annoying music. There was a video of someone spraying someone with a hose, so you could daydream about adding some Super Soakers to your arsenal. Far more maturely, you could consider the idea of bribing them like this nice woman or this (kinda racist) guy. You could also consider just creepily filming them until they stop. There was also a whole lawyers.com video on how to amp up the legal threat related to noise nuisances.

My real advice, though, is to utterly and completely give up on this changing. That's been my best strategy for neighborhood nuisances. It makes them far less annoying.
posted by salvia at 9:45 PM on July 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

Is a portable air conditioner a possibility? Admittedly, they're not cheap. But Amazon has a wide selection.
posted by MexicanYenta at 10:09 PM on July 17, 2015 [6 favorites]

You're not wrong for being irritated by the noise, but there's nothing you can do. Move.
posted by cotton dress sock at 11:22 PM on July 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

They probably aren't opening the windows to make noise, but because it's hot for them too. You are the one who has the motive to shut the windows so until you can move you really have to figure out a way to make that work.

This is the shitty part though. They HAVE AC. It's just that when the kid starts yelling/screaming they open the windows and turn it off if it's on. They have no reason to have their windows open for cooling reasons. When it gets past noise ordinance hours they just close the windows and turn the AC on(i can hear it buzzing along right now, in fact).

I really it's probably the asshole center of my brain talking, but it really feels like some kind of "well if we have to suffer everyone else does too" sort of thing

And to clarify, it's not continuous every breath screaming in the sense that crying is, but it's at the volume level of almost a cockatoo probably every 30 seconds-1 minute, fairly consistently and often with continuous tantrums that last a few minutes. And it's usually most consistently loud and frequent right at 8.

And yea, i'm very much aware this is probably a special needs situation involving unequipped or crappy parents. I'm really bummed out about it actually... but thems the breaks.
posted by emptythought at 1:01 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't assume they just wanted to bother everyone too- it's probably really expensive to run their air con, perhaps they can't afford it all day. Sometimes it helps to choose the more charitable reading... Easy advice to give, hard to do- I know. Good luck!
posted by pairofshades at 1:42 AM on July 18, 2015 [19 favorites]

I like the idea of neighbours taking turns complaining. I also think a call to child and family services to see if the child is being properly taken care of is in order, not out of revenge but because there might be a real problem.

In the meantime, something like this white noise machine might give you some relief. It even has a "mask" setting for outside noise.
posted by rpfields at 2:16 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

You're like, "the solution to my problem is so logical, all they have to do is close these brilliantly efficient sound-proof windows" and "if they're not doing that, it must be intentional". The thing is, they are not really thinking about your problem, they're just hot, or maybe they just prefer fresh air - either way, they like things how they are. And they're thinking, "these buildings are really well constructed, if any neighbour complains, it's because something's wrong with them, we can't be that loud". (Plus, they're probably used to the noise.)

Asking other people to make a substantial change to their habits and comfort is a big ask. (FTR, I personally feel like I'm suffocating unless at least one window is open, year-round, in Canada. This would be a huge ask for me.) You can't force them to agree with you, it entirely depends on their willingness to comply. They're not going to be willing to do that, so you can only mitigate it on your end, and either see what you can do about some kind of air conditioner, or move. Or get into a long and likely unsuccessful war that is only going to make living there more uncomfortable, but I think the other two options are preferable. (But mostly, I think, move.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 2:18 AM on July 18, 2015 [6 favorites]

Maybe they're opening the windows to get some fresh air before sending the kid to bed? We have modern multi-pane windows and AC and there is NO AIR at all if the windows stay closed the whole day. So we air the place in the evening and then crank up the AC again. And tantruming before having to go to bed is a standard occurance at every age.
posted by gakiko at 2:36 AM on July 18, 2015 [2 favorites]

As someone who gets terrible sleep on the regular, I have huge sympathy. But your neighbors aren't doing this AT you. Your getting them to change their window opening habits is both unlikely and also unreasonable. You should just forget even asking them.

Your options are to mitigate the noise in your own place, continue complaining to the landlord (will take a long time to resolve, if ever), or move.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 3:43 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

Flourpot has it in both comments. Get an AC unit that doesn't go in your window, and keep the windows shut. Do not call the police.
posted by amro at 3:52 AM on July 18, 2015

Well, a big thing you need to do is put on your own oxygen mask: get a cheap hotel room, airbnb, crash at a friends' house: whatever it takes to GET SOME SLEEP. Maybe even do this twice. Then you will be much better equipped to deal with this.

I'm terribly sorry.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 5:55 AM on July 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Please do not call child services or the police unless you are actually worried about the child's welfare.
posted by bitterpants at 6:49 AM on July 18, 2015 [8 favorites]

I get your frustration, but think it's unreasonable for you to expect them to keep their windows shut when you're not willing to keep your windows shut. Whether or not they have a/c is irrelevant; you're choosing NOT to install a portable unit yourself.
posted by metasarah at 6:51 AM on July 18, 2015 [10 favorites]

Call the police and keep calling them until the people do something about their noise pollution that they are foisting on the neighborhood.
posted by mccxxiii at 7:01 AM on July 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I work for an actual child welfare agency and am a mandated reporter, and hearing a kid scream like that for hours at a time without abatement would cause me concern, even outside of the lack of sleep frustration and even outside parental discussion or lack thereof. It's my opinion that it would not be unreasonable to call child protective services to express your concern without the editorializing. (i.e. "There is a child in the building next door who screams in a way that sounds like he is being hurt or neglected for hours on end without stopping, and the only time I do not hear him scream is when the windows are closed. I love children and I am concerned that he is in trouble or the family is in trouble, and I want someone to make sure they are okay. I don't know what's up with the parents but it's my understanding that they're generally hostile to the other neighbors.") You come across as at your wits' end, which is totally understandable due to lack of sleep, but I can tell in between the lines that you are a concerned person. Just think about the framing of your concern, and call. It's okay. Let the experts determine what's up.
posted by juniperesque at 7:24 AM on July 18, 2015 [24 favorites]

I've had that neighbor. My wife works in mental health, specifically with kids, and we would both call the police and CPS. In fact, my wife would probably have to call CPS as a mandatory reporter in our state. The key words you're probably looking for are asking the police or child protective services to do what's called a wellness check. Basically its just the police, or CPS going and checking out the scene, making sure everyone's okay. Its the lightest trigger for both the police and CPS to get involved. Its not a bad thing, and it should be implemented more often*.

This will serve two purposes; first it will put the parents on alert that someone other than (in their eyes) their shitty neighbors who hate kids are paying attention to the situation…or at least it should. Once police and CPS are involved, this should put the parents on alert. Sometimes this is enough to actually rectify the situation. The second reason this is a good idea is that you don't know whats going on inside the house, and you're not qualified to make the call as to what may or may not be abuse. Calling in a CPS wellness check puts the professionals who make those calls on the scene. There is no way to tell based on your post if CPS will get involved permanently, and its not important.

In many jurisdictions, CPS can help parents like this actually get services they need. In a few jurisdictions, CPS can actually mandate therapy and other services for the child and parents. These are all good things, and you should be given a high five for calling CPS if you do. CPS isn't going to fuck with a family, unless there's good reason to. CPS are the good guys, very much so. They're not always perfect, but yes, mos def the good guys.

*I've actually had a wellness check called on our family before because my son has some behavioral issues too. Its not a huge deal, and CPS was like 'oh shit, yeah, you guys are in services and taking care of business, sorry we bothered you and glad everyone's okay!'

posted by furnace.heart at 7:41 AM on July 18, 2015 [36 favorites]

Calling police/CPS seems to be the sentiment. In the meantime, I recommend TWO fans (box fans seem to be louder - so try two of those). We live in a "lively" neighborhood and with two fans I hear NOTHING.
posted by Toddles at 8:40 PM on July 18, 2015

Ha ha. I see my ex-neighbors have moved in next to you. I know you've tried to get a message across through your landlords but have you tried talking to the family directly and acting all super sweet about it? Asking them to keep the windows closed at 8am because you're sleeping seems perfectly reasonable. I think quiet hours in most places are 10p to 10a. Sure, people are up at 8a but that's way too early for any kind of loudness.
posted by Jess the Mess at 9:05 AM on July 20, 2015 [2 favorites]

As an update on this, new neighbors moved in to their building a few days after i posted this. I heard them loudly talking outside a nearby ice cream shop about their "neighbors annoying kid" and imitating the exact sounds he makes. I realized, upon seeing them enter that building, that we were talking about the same kid.

Apparently their landlord cares when it's someone in their building complaining(which i do not believe for a second hasn't happened before because seriously?) because now... exactly what i suggested happened. Their window is almost always closed with the AC on if it's hot enough.

My partner says they've been loud in the mornings once or twice since then, but it's basically over. Still pretty annoyed that at least observably, their landlord sided with them until someone new moved in and complained.

But hey, at least i can sleep now and don't have to listen to AGHHH... BRAAAA every 30 seconds for hours.

I regret not just calling CPS and putting up with it for so long, and will do that if it becomes a thing again or if i encounter this in the future. My partner really didn't want to go there and basically talked me down from it.
posted by emptythought at 5:03 PM on September 10, 2015 [5 favorites]

Whew, all's well that ends well.

I had a partially-similar situation with my downstairs neighbors and I wrestle with the fact that I never called CPS on them. On one hand, it was bad, like BAD, for several years, and on the other hand I'm not a fan of that system.

If it makes sense, bake those new neighbors some cookies.
posted by rhizome at 5:10 PM on September 10, 2015

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