Noise pollution is generally a problem in Nigeria even though we’ve learnt to live with it. However, it could be extremely annoying when your home, which is supposed to be a place of comfort, becomes a quarters for noisemakers.
You’ll be able to relate better if you live in a shared building. I can’t even begin to narrate my personal experiences with noisy neighbors. From barking dogs, to loud music, to frequent noisy parties, to neighbors that decide to use their noisy machines at odd hours, to television noise, crying babies, slamming doors; the list goes on and on. Such noises often result in episodes where you’re unable to sleep or unable to concentrate on your work or study. If you are someone that likes your peace and quiet, these noisy circumstances can pose a threat to your well-being in general. Certainly, noisy neighbor can make your life miserable!
I can go on and on about the troubles noisy neighbors can cause. However, the important thing here is to solve the problem. There are two main approaches to solving this problem.
The first is the prevention step
Basically, when looking out for apartments, try to ensure that the neighborhood is generally quiet. Specify to your agents and landlords that you don’t want a noisy neighborhood. Ask questions from people that already live in the building. If possible try to pick apartments at the top floor as this limits the amount of noise that can get to you.
Now, if after you have carried out the prevention step, you still fall victim to the noisy neighbor, don’t lose hope; there are ways to deal with this.
I call these sets of tips the solution step
While some people opt to keep quiet about it and die in silence, others just get confrontational and aggressive with the neighbor in question. These approaches are not ideal and will not solve the problem. For instance, if you decide to keep quiet, chances are, the neighbor in question doesn’t even realize that they are making noise or that the noise is bothering you. Aggressive confrontation isn’t any better either.
Most likely, the neighbor will retaliate by being aggressive as well. Thus, you won’t achieve anything other than making an enemy. So, what can be done?
Consider the source of the noise.
Is it something that can be controlled from your part or from your neighbor’s part? For example, you could consider using noise-cancelling headphones from time to time if the noise is bearable and not so frequent. You also have to be reasonable. Ensure that you aren’t just overreacting and the noise is really bothersome. For example, if the noise results from a crying baby, there isn’t really much that can be done on your neighbor’s part. In this case, noise-cancelling headphones or earmuffs might be helpful.
Approach the neighbour
Once you have established that you’re not overreacting or your techniques for reducing the noise are not effective, the next step is to approach your neighbor.
Now, it is important that you don’t approach in an aggressive manner. In fact, don’t go there when you are irritated or angry. Go when you are much calmer and can handle the situation maturely.
Also, you have to note that the timing of your approach is important especially when you are not particularly cool with the neighbor in question. Whatever you decide to do, make sure you are polite in your approach.
Explain to them the cause of the noise (that’s if you know), the days or time you normally experience it and how it bothers you. You can also invite the neighbor to your apartment while the noise is on going or make an audio or video recording for them to witness first-hand how uncomfortable it is for you. If they are reasonable, this should make them take some action in preventing or reducing the noise.
If possible you can suggest solutions. For instance, say ‘I’ll appreciate it if you can keep the music down from 10pm”, or “if you could move the machine to another room”. Make sure it sounds reasonable and polite.
Additionally, depending on how they respond to the situation, you could get their cell number or email address (if you don’t already have it), so you can text them when the noise becomes bothersome in the future.
Keep contacting them
Now, after you have told them but they haven’t gone ahead to make things better, you might decide that it’s time to be confrontational. Please, resist the urge to do so. As mentioned earlier, it won’t solve the problem!
Instead, you can text them a few more times, send them emails or send them letters (keep copies for yourself). Ensure you have some evidence should you decide to report to the landlord.
Inform your agent or landlord.
If there is no improvement still, you can then take the matters to a higher authority! I do not mean the police; I mean your landlord or agent (or both). Explain to them what causes the noise, the neighbor responsible, the frequency of the noise and how you have tried severally to resolve the issue with the neighbor. You can show them texts, emails, letters that you have previously sent to the neighbor.
It is expected that your landlord or agent will either visit the neighbor to address the issue or write a letter cautioning the neighbor to refrain from constituting a nuisance. You can tell your landlord or agent to keep your identity anonymous, if you will be more comfortable that way.
The landlord or agent might also decide to set up a meeting between yourself and your neighbour to resolve the conflict, while they act as a mediator. Ensure, that you act civil in these situations.
Call the cops
If all of the above methods do not resolve the issue, then you can call the cops. This should however be your last resort. It is unlikely that your neighbor will be charged to court (except the noise caused you some harm) but the cops can help caution your neighbor.
If that still doesn’t help the situation, my friend, it is time to move out of the apartment or hope your neighbor moves.