During 4 years on strata council, Sylvia became horrified with the ongoing dysfunction around noise complaints. So she devised a system.
Sounds like the boys living in the apartment below us have invited 20 of their closest friends over for a video-game tournament. A glorious symphony of hollering, electronic gunshots and explosions play for the next 6 hours.
Later, an important hockey game is on and the volume is cranked so loud the boys have to shout to be heard. By the end of the game, all 20 boys are sufficiently medicated.
We can’t imagine what they are doing, but it sounds like the demolition phase of a renovation. Except for those boys who have wandered outside and are shouting, chucking beer cans and urinating off the balcony.
Sleep isn’t friendly tonight. However, seven AM still comes early.
The two little girls who live in the apartment above us are practicing their gymnastics routines. Their Dad doesn’t like being woken up either. He yells at the children to be quiet. But Mom doesn’t quite approve.
Hence Mom and Dad’s argument, that eventually becomes heated. Screaming, stomping, slamming cupboard doors, punctuated with a slamming bedroom door.
We can hear the children crying.
Your knee-jerk reaction throughout is to pound on their doors and make it stop.
Never do that! While at first glance, this might seem cowardly, it’s not.
Never Let Your Noisy Neighbours Know It Was You!
Never approach your neighbours when they’re being noisy. You’re already angry, and this will only escalate during the confrontation.
Even if you’re able to remain calm, all subsequent complaints, whether or not they’re made by you, will be blamed on you. Criticizing your neighbours (even constructively and diplomatically) can cause at best, a cold relationship. Or at worst, you and your family to become the target of ongoing bullying. You’ll regret it for the length of time you continue to be neighbours.
Furthermore, you could be placing yourself in a dangerous situation. News articles have cited people beaten or even killed while trying to break up noisy parties.
You don’t know who these people are. You aren’t privy to their transgressions, or past experiences. Even an educated psychologist can’t predict how people will react. Are they under duress? Stimulants? Don’t make yourself a target!
Unfortunately, short term, your best bet is to endure your neighbours’ noise … this time.
Isn’t it Neighbourly to Have a Friendly Chat First?
It’s true. Your neighbours may not know their noise is bothering you. They may not even realize you can hear them.
So should you forgo the anonymous noise complaint? Every blog, article or website I’ve read certainly advises to have a friendly chat with your noisy neighbours first.
I disagree … vehemently! Protecting yourself and your family is more important than being neighbourly.
Serving several years on strata council destroyed my belief that most folks are good at heart. Thinking your neighbours are rational human beings who actually care about your well-being is a hit or miss assumption.
In fact, I became so appalled at how residents treated one another regarding noise pollution and noise complaints, I wrote these articles.
Use My Experience To Your Benefit
Upon receiving a noise complaint, the majority of the defendants reacted with these four steps:
- Being defensive. “We were only … blah, blah, blah.”
- The indignant attitude that no one had the right to tell them what to do.
- Demanding to meet their accusers. (The answer was always no.)
- Insults and threats. According to the defendant(s), anyone who preferred peace and quiet in their own home was an uptight, conservative prude who just needed an attitude adjustment.
The defendant(s) couldn’t care less about the inconvenience they caused their neighbours. More important was carrying on exactly as they pleased without having to edit themselves.
When people live in a manner that negatively affects their neighbours on a continuous basis, it’s a way of life. Bad habits are notoriously difficult to break. Your noisy neighbours will not change their habits unless prompted to do so through levied fines or a court-ordered eviction.
Be clever from the get-go. Take the precautions necessary to keep your identity secret. You have no idea how far this situation might escalate.
There’s no advantage for your noisy neighbours to know who they’re bothering, only what they’re doing to be bothersome. Your best bet is a well-written anonymous noise complaint, and the next day, slip it under their door, or into their mailbox.
Where's The Noise Is Coming From?
But before you deliver that anonymous noise complaint, verify the source. Be certain the noise is definitely coming from the suspected neighbours.
Noise pollution can:
- Travel great distances
- Spread in all directions
- Be distorted by trees and other landscaping
- Strike a surface, reflect, and bounce until its energy dissipates.
Furthermore, sound can transmit:
- Horizontally and
- Even diagonally.
- From outside the building through the openings around plumbing, electrical and ventilation systems.
- From inside the building through solid surfaces or via the framing that extends throughout the structure.
This makes it difficult to pin-point exactly where noise is coming from.
Get out of your home, go for a walk, and make absolutely sure you peg the correct apartment, townhouse, or house. Even listen at the door of the suspected suite to ensure that’s indeed where the noise is coming from. Due diligence is your biggest key to success.
If the noise is ridiculous, call the police (non-emergency number) every single time. That’s only a short-term solution. You’ll need something that will help over the long haul.
Write Your Noisy Neighbour an Anonymous Noise Complaint
Delivering an anonymous note is fair. You haven’t made a formal complaint. You may not have even contacted the police. You’re giving your neighbours the benefit of the doubt they don’t know anyone can hear them.
Something like this:
Dear (suite #) Residents,
I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the barriers separating the apartments are not soundproof. I can hear you when you’re just talking.
Yesterday, I arrived home at about 8pm and had to endure your shouting and howling until around 1am. I even watched a movie with my earphones on and could still hear you! Can you imagine how you sounded? It made for an annoying evening.
Please realize that Saturday and Sunday are not “the weekend” for everyone. I must wake up at 6:30am for work on both days.
There are approximately 20 drinking establishments within walking distance. Please make use of them during visits with your friends. iPods and ear-buds are great for listening to loud music.
I really don’t want to resort to writing to the Council as the fines are now $200 per incident. Furthermore, once the Council gets started on a specific resident, they tend to go a little crazy and I don’t wish this on anyone.
However, as per both the city bylaws and the strata bylaws, it is your responsibility to ensure your noise stays within your suite.
Please be more respectful.
Consequently, upon receiving this information, if your neighbours:
- Did not realize that anyone could hear them and
- Care about the well-being of the people living around them,
Then this anonymous noise complaint will do the trick!
However, downright selfish people will disregard your warning. And when they do, it's time to contact the authorities.
More Information on Noisy Neighbour Issues:
Is This Really What's Going On?
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2010 Sylvia Leong
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on December 13, 2019:
I'm so glad, and thank you, minion89. I hope so too.
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on July 18, 2015:
Hi Linda Edamura,
First, snap a picture of that silver plate that hangs near the metal post.
Do you live in a strata? If so, please scroll up to the end of this article & click on the link that goes to the website, AnnoyZneighbour.com. This website will guide you through a step-by-step process in how to properly deal with your noisy neighbour.
Do you live in a neighbourhood of detached houses? If so, then you'll have to make a trip to your city hall. Take the snapshot with you, show one of the employees & tell them about your noisy neighbour. The city hall employee will guide you on the proper way to make a formal complaint. Your formal complaint will give the city bylaw officer the right & reason to first warn your noisy neighbour. If your noisy neighbour does not remove the silver plate, then the bylaw officer can fine him.
Good luck! And please check back & let us know whether or not you are successful.
linda edamura on July 16, 2015:
as far as we know that our neighbourhood is affected by noise from a owner of the house
we don't know what is the noises for
but we are sure that the owner hangs a silve plate at the balcony near a metal post
we are living in a windy neighbourhood. the owner doesn't really concern our noise problem. the owner is abit selfish at all . the owner ignores all of us when we reach the owner. the plate now is giving us noises at all. we dont know what to do. we HOPE that god could give us a hand,
we don't want to hear any more noises at all
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on June 16, 2015:
That excerpt was from a specific strata corporation's bylaws. They added it to the standard bylaws. I've clarified that in the article. Thank you for pointing it out.
Yuki on June 16, 2015:
Could you direct me to where you found the second bylaw listed above?
((4) An owner, tenant or occupant shall not: (b) make undue noise in or about any strata lot or common property) I'm just having a hard time finding it...
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on May 09, 2015:
Thank you Jaime Sommers. In my opinion, your comment is bang on!
Jaime Sommers on May 05, 2015:
I feel compelled to post @Tony, I, as much as the next person enjoy having a few drinks at home with friends and often do on weekends. However, waking someone up from a sound sleep when you live in a community setting such as an apartment building or condo is not a matter of being a 'prude', it's downright inconsiderate. The general sounds that eminate from neighbors do *Not* constitute waking them from a nights sleep. We all have bills to pay, and cannot afford to be half asleep during deadlines and meetings from an inconsiderate neighbor waking you up at 2 or 3AM. That's just NOT okay. You are free to move to a house near an industrial neighborhood where noise may not be an issue, if you do not want to curtail the noise for the sake of anyone else after a reasonable time. Personally, I don't notice noise unless I am awoken by it, and then, I would take Sylvia's advice and file a complaint. No one needs that, students too cram for exams and also need sleep. I suggest you take into consideration that your lifestyle may not be compatible with community living.
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on May 05, 2015:
I’ve approved the above “hate mail” because it’s an excellent opportunity to show you a prime example of exactly the sort of character you’re likely to come up against.
Quote: “Noise is a relatively small issue, when compared to being served a 2 week eviction notice. An eviction is a huge inconvenience and it is much more stressful to be uprooted from your home, and have to find a new one mid month in a rush, especially if your new apt needs references.”
This is so specific that I have to believe that he’s writing from experience. This is very telling. British Columbia’s Residential Tenancy Act is heavily skewed in favour of the tenant. The fact is that a tenant would have to be quite inconsiderate over a long period of time in order for a landlord to legally be able to evict due to noise.
Personally, we can hear the lady upstairs chopping-up food on her countertop. Sometimes they wear hard-soled shoes while walking across their tile. We know when she’s vacuuming. We know when one of them drops something.
We can sometimes hear the folks downstairs talking (if there are a few of them down there).
These are the normal activities of daily living. These sounds are short-lived, perfectly acceptable & pretty much expected whilst living in a multi-family dwelling.
No one is expecting silence.
I don’t own a television. However, when we watch movies on our computer, the volume is never above talking levels. We never hear our neighbours’ televisions either. We don’t hear our neighbours’ music. They definitely never hear ours. If anyone regularly has 6-person dinner parties, all the power to them, we certainly can’t hear them.
It doesn’t matter what you’re actually doing. The fact remains that as per law & logic, each of us must be responsible to ensure our noise stays within our home. This is called respect & consideration. It’s part of strata living. It’s part of being a decent human being.
Consider if the bylaws were reversed. Imagine if each & every resident of a strata complex was inconsiderate of one another & made as much noise as they wanted. The complex would cease to be a community of little sanctuaries where it was possible to rest, relax & regenerate. Instead it would become a ghetto where it was impossible to recuperate from the stresses of the outside world & get a good night’s sleep.
As for holding B.C. housing to a higher standard: we know of a residential building in our neighbourhood that has no insulation in the walls between the suites. I have a friend who rented there for a very short period of time. You could hear the telephone receiver being placed on the cradle through the wall! My point: it is unbelievably easy to tell if noise is due to poor construction rather than human inconsideration. My friend had no problem getting out of her lease. Like I said, the Residential Tenancy Act is heavily skewed in favour of the tenant.
Case-in-point: this is an example of a man who cannot be rationalized with. Most likely the inconsiderate neighbour keeping you up at night cannot be rationalized with either (no matter how nice he seems to be in the elevator). If you confront him directly, you’ll have to live with him causing you further anguish for as long as you remain neighbours. Keep your identity secret!
Tony on April 17, 2015:
The fact that you admit that you were on a Strata Council is very revealing. I am going out on a limb to guess that you are a conservative prude.
I only say this as you often quote a US ruling that states that acceptable decibel level in a unit should be 48db. That is 12 decibels less than normal talking level of . As most people watch TV above talking levels, and commercials on TV are programmed to play at a higher volume than the TV show.
Why do we always want to oppress our neighbours/brothers. Normal people want to listen to music while cleaning, or want to have a dinner party with a few friends over. Even with just 6 people in a 1 bedroom apt the noise level can and is well above 65db.
Noise is a relatively small issue, when compared to being served a 2 week eviction notice. An eviction is a huge inconvenience and it is much more stressful to be uprooted from your home, and have to find a new one mid month in a rush, especially if your new apt needs references.
How about taking on the responsibility yourself. How about looking at the issue from the reverse angle. You are the issue. You are uptight. You should wear ear-plugs. It is not your neighbours fault that you have to wake at 630am on a weekend.
You are probably offended that i say it is your fault...No problem. It is no longer your fault. How about we hold the BC housing to a higher standard. For 30-40% higher cost, the builders could use thicker drywall, and a better sound absorbant insulation. This would curtail the problem instantly.
My wife and I can hear our neighbours have a conversation through the wall, and we know what tv shows they like to watch. That is not their fault.
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on September 26, 2014:
Thank you for your comment Min. Your situation is intolerable. Party rooms in residential buildings are ridiculous.
As you can see above, both my city bylaws & my building’s bylaws allow no room for parties at any given time night or day. Furthermore, even if the floor of your party room was sound-proofed, chances are you’d still hear parties through the windows.
Personally, I would not tolerate this situation!
I would write a letter to the strata council (emailed through the property manager making it a legal document) requesting that the party room be shut down permanently & the following special resolutions be brought forth at the next AGM:
➢ The Party room floor to be properly sound-proofed
➢ The Party room to be converted into a livable suite
➢ The suite to be rented out to tenants with the profits going to the building’s operating fund
You will need 75% of those attending the AGM to vote yes. So you need to do your due diligence. The more work you do up front, the more likely your resolutions will be passed. Gather the following information & include in your letter:
➢ Point out that allowing parties in the party room are in direct contravention of the city’s & the building’s bylaws (if this is true). List the specific bylaws.
➢ List possible pubs & banquet rooms in the area for people to hold their parties (including the cost)
➢ Party rooms are often used for a building’s AGM. You’ll need to find another area for this important yearly meeting. Cite that the profits from the rental suite will more than cover a space rented elsewhere for the AGM.
➢ Talk to as many neighbours as you can, get them to understand why you want the party room shut down & how converting it to a rentable suite will benefit the building.
The more well written your letter is (proper spelling, grammar & sentence structure) the more chance you’ll have at being taken seriously.
Now, if the strata council fails to put forth your requested special resolutions, or if the special resolutions fail, you have two options:
➢ Hire a lawyer, take it to court & force the resolutions through.
➢ Sell your condo & move.
Good luck & please check back & let us all know how it goes.
Min on September 19, 2014:
Hi, I just had to read this.
I have different but similar problem:
I am having noise issue with common property. we live under the common area room, and sometimes people rent the room and have a party.
the problem is that the floor that is installed is too bad that we can hear people walking very clearly.
I have contacted the concierge, the manager, and the council. what they did is they gave the renters 30 more minutes to clean up without our consent when the common area closes 11 sharp. so basically, we have to be kept awake till 11:30.
I don't know why the council is doing this, but what i know for sure is they are not helping.
Would you happen to know any solution or help that I could get for this kind of problem?
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on December 30, 2010:
Ha, ha! Yeah, earplugs are a must in our neighbourhood as well.
Thanks for the comment & I'm following you now too!
b. Malin on December 30, 2010:
Very good and informative Hub. We normally live in a house, in a lovely neighborhood. Our bedroom faces the front of the house...I've mastered the use of "ear plugs" because I am such a light sleeper. Now we are away for a few months in Florida, lots of NOISE here, I was smart...I bought along a BIG BOX OF EAR PLUGS!
I look forward to reading more of your work, as I will be following you. Hope you will join me as well.
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on December 23, 2010:
Thank you for reading, commenting & linking! I read your awesome hub & I totally see your point. A possible compromise could be to slide the letter under their door first (anonymously) as an initial warning.
I think it really depends on the situation, the culture of the building & even the culture of the area you live in. We live in a neighbourhood that although now trendy, was a dreadful down & out area a very short time ago it. Hence the type of people living in our building – many have been here for 20 years.
I used to believe all people were basically “good at heart”. Then I spent 4 years on Strata Council. Each resident who received a noise complaint knew they were being noisy & didn’t care. Rather they were under the impression that it was their “right” to live their life exactly as they saw fit. I was appalled at how people treated each other.
From my experience:
It’s really shockingly simple. If you stomp, shout, turn your electronics’ volume any higher than a normal speaking voice, slam your cupboard/bedroom doors - then your neighbours are going to hear you. If you do any of the above on a consistent basis, your neighbours are going to be annoyed.
If people live their life this way, then it’s habit. Some people have loud talking voices or are heavy on their feet when they walk. Changing a habit is a gargantuan effort. People do not change unless it’s in their own best interest – like they’re tired of paying fines.
The man who owns the unit below us rents it out. When we first moved in, his daughters lived there. We checked with each other on several occasions – we never heard them & they never heard us. Bliss!
Then the daughters moved out. For the last 4 years that condo has been a revolving door for young men under the age of 25. Show me a 25 year old who cares about someone other than himself & I’ll show you someone lying about his age. The entitlement is astonishing!
It is not my responsibility to educate each new tenant that moves in on how much noise is acceptable. That is the owner’s responsibility – he’ making the profit, not I. So I have him fined each & every time his tenants bother us. Although the owner still only rents to young men (I think the suite is trashed & that’s the only people he can find) they get quieter & quieter. The owner is warning them.
Do they know who we are? No! They never will. Both our cars are in the underground garage. It would be nothing for the young men to knife our tires or key our paint.
Perhaps when we move into a more upscale building that doesn’t allow rentals I’ll approach my neighbours more openly about issues. I guess it’ll depend on the culture of the building & neighbourhood.
brentwilliams2 on December 23, 2010:
Great hub, Sylvia, but I tend to disagree about whether you should contact a neighbor directly or call the cops. In fact, I wrote a hub response: https://hubpages.com/living/Should-You-Confront-a-...
I hope you don't mind! I like talking about issues like this, so I hope you are not offended! (When I use the word "you", I am referring to the reader, not yourself)
I linked to your hub - feel free to comment and debate! :)
Sylvia Leong (author) from North Vancouver, Canada on December 19, 2010:
Thank you, Pam!
Pam Roberson from Virginia on December 19, 2010:
I also think approaching a neighbor about a noise issue may start problems because many people consider this confrontational. I suppose it depends on who you're dealing with. The problem is that many times you don't know who or what type of person you're dealing with until you start dealing with them. ;) Very nice hub.