Dealing With A Noisy Neighbor
There are basically two ways to deal with a noisy neighbor, one who consistently disturbs your sleep, or simply seems to manage to make noise no matter what the time of day. The one way, which is usually quite expensive, and not always guaranteed to work, is to noise proof your house. The other way which usually, though not always, is much more effective, is to go to the source.
My Dog Doesn't Bark - If you elect to go to the source, the first thing you are likely to find out is whether your neighbor intends to do anything about the problem or not. Sometimes a neighbor is totally unaware that he or she is a virtual noise machine, or at least causing a problem. One example would be a barking dog. Most dogs don't care to be left alone, and will bark, in which case the neighbor is unaware of the situation since the dog stops once the neighbor returns home.
At other times, a neighbor may not be aware he or she is causing a problem, but could really care less. In the case of the noisy neighbor who was unaware of the problem, being nice will often work. In the case of the neighbor who doesn't care, being nice might work, but might not make any difference.
When The Building Is At Fault - Another type of problem, often encountered in apartments, is noise coming from a neighbor’s apartment that the neighbor either doesn't hear, or is so used to it that for all practical purposes the noise doesn't exist. This noise is often caused by vibration through structure. An upstairs neighbor who walks heavily, making a thumping sound, may not actually hear himself or herself walking around, but the vibration travels through the beams and studs in the walls and ceiling, and reverberates in your apartment, which now acts as a sound chamber. In this case, the neighbor might have to walk around gently on tiptoes, which may be a bit much to ask. The problem is associated with the structure of the building, and one only the owner can resolve, if the owner is willing to pay for it. If you live on an apartment, your only recourse may be to find another apartment. This in fact is often the best solution, but check out the new apartment well, by visiting it at different times of the day before you sign a lease, to get a good feel for the amount of quietness you might expect.
Trying to isolate yourself from the noise usually doesn't work well. If you try to soundproof your house, or even a room, you'll soon learn that a soundproof room will usually keep noise from escaping, but may still let outside noise in, although it may be significantly dampened.
Allies, Leases, And The Law - If going one-on-one with your neighbor is your chosen approach and trying to remain reasonable isn't working, there is always strength in numbers, and there is always the law. Most apartment houses have conditions set forth in the lease that makes eviction possible if a tenant is bothering other tenants. One can also check with other close by neighbors and see if they are experiencing the same problem. If so, a group of people going to the landlord will usually out-vote the one neighbor who is causing the problem. It's also helpful to act as a group if the last resort, that of calling the police, is taken. The noisy neighbor is far less apt to take revenge on a group, or seek revenge not knowing who the complaining party was.
Whatever the type of noise is, it's always best to go to the source first if you're comfortable in doing so, getting allies if you need to, and avoiding if you can spend large sums in trying to keep the noise out of your own house or apartment.