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Background info: I live in a large shared house (more than 10 people). Honestly I would like to move but given my lease we're stuck together for a few more months. The company that rents the house tries to rent it out to international students or people on working visa. Though I've lived with several international people before (and had a great time) I noticed there seems to be barriers in this situation, probably from the fact that people aren't motivated to speak a common language given there's usually one other person who can speak theirs. I mention this because it seems very taboo for people to complain about anything or make requests (such as, "can you please not turn on the radio in the morning").

Specific Situation: I am being affected by the noise in the house. It is affecting my ability to do work and rest. I can hear a lot of it from my bedroom with my door closed. For example the person across the hall from me yells into the mic while playing computer games after midnight. Also a lot of one-off things like people ordering food and the doorbell rings close to midnight.

Question: I know the first step to addressing the problem with someone is to simply make them aware of the issue. I find this hard because:

  1. Sometimes the noise is so short it doesn't seem worth it, for example the pizza delivery man ringing the door bell
  2. It's hard to find a good opportunity to address it. Many of the roommates I don't see for days at a time. For the guy yelling at his computer, I would rather not interrupt him at 1am while other people are possibly listening on the microphone.
  3. Sometimes I don't know where the noise is coming from. For example if I hear music, I may not want to search the house if I'm in bed or trying to focus on work.
  4. It seems to be taboo making requests with this group. Once I asked my roommate to keep his door closed while playing music and I felt he went over board with a huge apology. Also no one else ever makes requests of other people.

In general I believe it's best to address a concern as soon as possible, directly with the person involved. This isn't always easy in my situation. How can I address annoying noises when it is late at night and/or I am not sure who is causing the noise? Besides talking in person, I am also able to communicate with my roommates via text or writing notes.

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I found out that the best way to deal with these situations is face to face as soon as possible for a few reasons:

  • People normally are less aggressive face to face because they don't expect it.
  • They can't ignore you (a note, text or email can be easily dismissed).
  • The tone of voice can be misinterpreted in the written form.

You need to be reasonable with your demands.

1 - The pizza delivery doorbell noise be can be too petty. Your flatmate can ask the pizza delivery man to call them when they arrive but I'd let this one slip and focus in more annoying noises.

2 - Knock on they doors to see if they are in and address the issue. Explain you situation that you work early and come to some sort of compromise. It's ok if it's a Friday night, during the week please keep the noise to a minimum. You have all right to interrupt the computer guy if he is making a lot of noise at 1 am. If people in the microphone hear you, well it is what it is.

3 - You may need to investigate this one and talk to people while they are doing the noise. Ask them to use headphones or to turn the volume down. Explain your situation and why you need the volume down.

4 - Just because no one makes requests, doesn't mean you can't do them. Talk about what bothers you. Your flatmates may not be aware of the amount of noise they are making and if no one complaints, it means everything is alright.

Always be polite, smile and be reasonable. Explain why the noise bothers you and how it affects you. It may seem scary to face people but once you get this skill, you'll see life is way easier. You won't let issues escalate and you'll get things out of the way quicker and that gives you time to focus on important stuff (whatever that can mean to you).

I assume your flatmates are reasonable people. If they are not, you may need to report to your landlord and ask him to do something about it. But that would be my last resort.

Good Luck.

  • Often times I have trouble finding out what's causing the noise. I just heard hammering from the kitchen, I go in and it had stopped, I asked people what's going on and all of them say they don't know what I'm talking about. Maybe they're trying to be unhelpful? I don't know how to handle these situations. – bighouse May 11 '18 at 3:12

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