Is your neighbor blasting his stereo at 3 a.m.? Does your neighbor’s dog start barking five minutes after she pulls out of her driveway? Noisy neighbors can wreck your sleep and ruin your day. What can you legally do to make it stop?
When it comes to noisy neighbors, retaliation is not the answer. Revenge will only make the situation worse, and probably provoke your neighbor. Resist the temptation to turn your stereo up and fight back. Your neighbor may have no idea how loud her stereo or barking dog may seem to you. So talk to your neighbor about the noise level problem. You should make a specific suggestion for solving the problem. Maybe you and your neighbor can agree no loud stereos past 10 p.m. on weeknights. Or perhaps your neighbor’s pet can be kept indoors while she is away, so barking won’t disturb others.
If the noise continues, get a copy of your local noise ordinance. Most noise ordinances limit the level of noise and restrict the time when noise can occur. Check with other neighbors to see if they’re also disturbed by the noise. If so, they might be happy to join forces to put a stop to the noise.
Put your complaint in writing. Write a letter to your neighbor, describing the noise problem, and include information about your previous conversation(s) asking the noise be quieted or stopped. Suggest in the letter that if the noise doesn’t stop, you’ll be forced to call the police or start a lawsuit. Enclose a copy of the noise ordinance with the letter and the signatures of other neighbors who are also affected by the noise. If nothing else works, you should call the police while the noise is occurring. The police may simply warn your neighbor, but later if called again, they will issue a ticket or summons if the noise continues.
If all else fails, you can take your neighbor to small claims court. You’ll likely have to prove that the noise is excessive and you’ll also need to show the steps you’ve taken to try to stop the disturbances – here’s where copies of your letter to the neighbor can come in handy.
Regardless of the approach you take, the more polite you are, the more likely you’ll come to a livable solution to the problem and get along with your neighbor in the future.
I’m attorney Eric Rudolph with your Legal Buzz.