10 Ways for a Renter to Deal With Difficult Neighbors

April 7, 2014
If you have rented for any period of time, you’ve likely had to deal with bad neighbors: the shrill screaming fight, the drunken merrymaking, the heels that sound like they’re about to pierce your skull (not to mention the floor).

No one wants to pick a fight with folks who live under the same roof, but, at the same time, you’re paying good money for a place that now feels tortuous.

What’s a renter to do?

1. Check your lease. Some leases stipulate no loud noises after a certain hour, or early in the morning. In buildings with hardwood floors, clauses may require rugs cover a certain percentage of floor to help insulate the noise. This might give you a leg to stand on with your landlord or the offending neighbor.

2. Talk to the non-offending neighbors. Do they share your concerns? This gives you more justification for your issues—and also support should you decide to confront the troublesome person or go to your landlord. Your neighbors might also have suggestions for solving the problem or approaching the troublesome tenant.

3. Make nice. If the offender isn’t dangerous, and you don’t have reason to fear a confrontation, a polite knock and calm conversation might be all you need. Perhaps the person didn’t realize how loud their footfalls sounded, that you have an early morning job, or that their smoking had been creeping under your door. They could be receptive to your concerns—you won’t know until you ask.

4. Asses your own lifestyle. Maybe you don’t live in a glass house, but you could have habits that annoy the neighbors. If you approach a neighbor about their bad habit and they mention one of yours, don’t argue—try to do your best to figure out a compromise or change the situation. Perhaps your reasoned approach will inspire the same in return.

5. Call the landlord. If you tried to make nice, but no one’s budging, calling the landlord or management company may be your next option. The landlord may not want to hear your worries about sound from above, and your hands may be tied. But if the issues are extreme enough, or threaten the property, the landlord can step in. For quality-of-life issues, saying you tried to talk to your neighbor before pestering the owner shows you are not a tattletale.

6. Go straight to the top. Sometimes, it’s not worth being nice. Consider, for example, what happened at a high-end loft building in San Antonio, TX. Neighbors who threw constant drunken parties were so loud that half the building’s tenants kept their lights on. The partyers’ guests mistakenly buzzed other apartments from a downstairs call box, and by morning the very pricey security system guarding the entrance had been busted—wires were out of the call box, the heavy electronic door off its hinges. The partying tenants had passed nuisance and gone straight to threatening the safety of the entire building. Most landlords don’t want people like that in their buildings either.

7. Call the cops. If you hear violent fights accompanied by screams or what sounds like items being thrown, or you feel threatened in any way, you may have no choice but to call the police department. The police can keep your identity secret. You might help someone. And even if the fight is just sound and fury, perhaps having officers come to their door will scare them into being quiet. The same goes for very loud parties. Most cities have noise ordinances, some tied to decibel levels. If you can hear Guns ‘n Roses note for note across a courtyard, you can bet on a legal violation occurring.

8. Take notes. We say this a lot at realtor.com®, but that’s because it’s true. If your neighbor repeatedly violates the lease, causes a hazard or responds negatively to your reasonable requests, copies of your emails, voicemails or other records of your reasonable requests will help your cause with the landlord or, should it escalate, with the police. Plus, letting your troublesome neighbor know that you are officially tracking their behavior may serve as a deterrent.

9. Be creative. Sometimes, you have to fight fire with fire. We’re not encouraging law- or lease-breaking activities of your own, but if the offending neighbor refuses to put his garbage in the can and leaves it outside where animals can get to it—well, what if that bag mysteriously ended up back on his doorstep? Maybe he’d learn a lesson? Maybe you’ve left some very nice notes, but they’ve gotten nowhere. Perhaps stronger language is in order. Of course, escalating the situation could backfire—big time—so this isn’t a route we recommend.

10. Deal with it. Some things aren’t going to change. Your neighbor with the infant can’t do much to quiet 4 a.m. screaming. If noise is the issue, you can try to soundproof your place a little, but the walls can’t get thicker. If the problem isn’t a health or safety hazard, but an annoyance, you have to ask yourself: Is staying in your apartment worth the neighborly hassle? Only you can answer that question.

Author: Anne Miller
Original Article: http://www.realtor.com/advice/10-ways-deal-bad-neighbors/