One morning you sit down to study, read, or spend some relaxing time in your own home when all of a sudden loud music disturbs you. Neighbors playing loud music during the day can be an incredibly disturbing event, particularly when you can’t escape the noise and are not sure where to turn to for help. In this blog, we will review the most common situations so you can quickly create an action plan for getting the noise turned down.
What best describes your situation?
Each city has a noise ordinance that sets specific rules for when loud noises may be played and what is considered an acceptable range of loudness (dB). If a violation is reported, police may come to the scene, or a noise officer may come out with a decibel reader to confirm if the sound is outside acceptable limits. See Los Angeles Noise Ordinance as a reference.
Generally, these rules are not going to help you during the day unless the sound is incredibly excessive (as in hearing damage level). From around 7am – 10pm, your neighbor will not be in violation if the noise is below 60 dB – the equivalent of a vacuum cleaner. But the decibel reading will be from your property line. A great check is to try turning on a vacuum cleaner to see if it drowns out the noise. If you can still hear the music, you should file a noise complaint.
Check your local noise ordinance by typing “[city name] noise ordinance” into search to get the times and decibel ratings. They will also provide specific instructions on how to file the complaint.
If you already filed a complaint and it is not working, you can either soundproof your own home and/or consider small claims court, where a lawyer is not required. You can either sue your neighbor for the cost of soundproofing your home, or general damages.
You will need to prove:
- Evidence of excessive and disturbing noise.
- The person you are suing is the one creating the noise.
- Your daily life in your home is impacted.
- You have taken action in communicating with your neighbor or the noise ordinance board and they have ignored your requests.
Evidence you should consider collecting:
- Police or noise ordinance reports.
- Video and/or audio recording.
- Text messages, emails, or written letters with your neighbor.
Small claims courts have judgments between $2,500 and $7,500. A request of $20/day for your suffering is reasonable, but if the noise is bad enough it impacts your work and daily life, requesting the cost of soundproofing materials may be required.
If you are renting, you have the right to a quiet space and can ask your landlord to investigate with the city or speak directly to the neighbor. The source of the noise does not have to be in the same apartment building for your landlord to step in. If your neighbor also rents, they may be in violation of their rental agreement and can be evicted if the noise does not stop.
Adding another person to the mix can elongate the time that you are experiencing the noise. Make sure to read our sections on communicating with your neighbor directly or contacting law enforcement before proceeding.
It’s hard to imagine, but your neighbor has their own emotional needs for playing this loud music. We don’t know what is going on in their lives. They might be trying to make a living as a musician or creating art for self expression. Having a frame of mind of understanding instead of only anger will give you a higher chance of amenable conversation instead of a heated argument.
Here are some tips for starting a conversation:
- Take a deep breath before saying anything and calm yourself down. Remain polite and respectful, but be firm in what you need.
- Start with explaining how the music is impacting you (ex. I work at home and can’t concentrate) and ask if they could turn it down.
- If you do not have their phone number, try to get it so you can text them for both of your convenience in the future.
- Be clear in how you will escalate the matter if it does not seem like they are taking you seriously (ex. call their landlord or file a police report).
- Write down the date, time, and details of your conversation in case this continues in the future and you need it for reference.
Starting with a conversation directly to the source is always the easiest and quickest way for you to get relief. You may have to try this a few times for it to properly work. Are there compromises you can offer on hours that you really don’t want the noise and other hours where they might be able to play their music?
Consider talking to your other neighbors to see if it is also an issue with them and if you can work together to communicate that change is needed for the neighborhood. If this does not work, contact law enforcement or soundproof your space from the noise.
It is possible to create a quiet zone without changing the behaviors of external things that you simply can’t control. This will help you attain a more comfortable space to reduce your stress and get better sleep, contributing to a healthier life.
First, decide if you need soundproofing or sound absorbing treatments. Noise travels through vibration, which is carried through the air. So to stop noise, you must control the airflow. Noise generated outside, like neighbors playing loud music, calls for soundproofing products. They stop noise from traveling through windows, ceilings, doors, and walls. Here are some examples:
Soundproof Window Inserts
Installing window inserts is an easy and effective way of soundproofing windows. Indow® Acoustic Grade window inserts can reduce up to 70% of outside noise when placed over single-pane windows and up to 50% of noise coming through double-pane windows. In an office or home, soundproofing windows is easy with our inserts that press into your existing window frame—no hassle, nails, or adhesives required. Check out this video of a customer who is a drummer and was dealing with complaints from the neighbors for playing loud music during the day. After installing Indow inserts, his neighbors were satisfied with the noise levels.
Look through your space and find areas where you see gaps between things like your door frame and the wall. While it seems like a small area that might be insignificant, sealing up all gaps will help reduce the noise. Consider it like a mission to find a leak in the bathtub. The leak still happens with even a pinprick. Standard caulks will work, but Green Glue sealant has a specialty formula for acoustic damping.
Noise generated inside your home requires sound absorption products, which reduce echo. If you are in an apartment building with noise coming through the walls, this will help control the sound.
When sound enters a room, it can bounce off various surfaces and continue amplifying in your space. Plush rugs with sound dampening rug pads, wall hangings, upholstered furniture and plants will help absorb sound. If you want to get really advanced, consider placing acoustic panels on the wall where sound is being transmitted and/or the wall opposite to the incoming noise.
While you may be fantasizing about pranks you can play on your neighbor as payback for the stress you are receiving, we applaud you on your efforts to find a more peaceful solution. It may be difficult, but finding compromise to create a healthy space for you both, and a peaceful neighborhood for all, will give you the biggest win in the long run.