I live in an apartment, and my neighbour who is retired, lives by himself, and partially deaf likes to play loud music most days per week (morning or evening). This completely stresses me out, and can’t function at home while this loud music is going on.
I feel sympathetic towards him — after all, he has the right to enjoy music in his own home and make the most of his retirement (as long as the noise doesn’t propagate!) — but as I can’t function without a peaceful environment, I’m at wit’s end.
How can I get him to stop playing the loud music?
Things I have tried:
Talking to him.
He’s very reclusive. If I knock on his door and try to talk to him, I can only get 1–2 sentences in before he closes the door in my face. I only ever see him in a “chance encounter” in the apartment common areas every couple of months, and if he sees me, he tries to avoid me. I haven’t managed to have a proper conversation with him.
If I were able to have a conversation with him, I would explain how the noise affects us, and that it would be appreciated if it could be kept quieter.
I would also try to remain respectful towards him: after all, he has a right to enjoyment in his own home. (As long as the noise doesn’t leak through!)
(One exception to the talking-to-him rule: shortly after he moved in, before the noise was a problem, I invited him over for dinner and had a pleasant chat. He was a little “odd” but nothing concerning. During the conversation I learnt that he hates to wear hearing aids, something I feel sympathy towards.)
Knocking on his door when there’s loud music.
It’s hard to get him to open his door, I would assume because he’s partially deaf (or he could be trying to ignore me).
If I knock with my bare hands, he doesn’t open the door, so I need to use a rolling pin. (Last time I knocked with my bare hands, I injured my knuckles and my hands were sore for a whole month.)
I don’t want to use a rolling pin (it feels unnecessary, and I have to hide it behind my back when he opens the door because I don’t want to appear threatening), but I’m forced to.
When he answers the door, I can only greet him (as friendly as I can manage), start my second sentence, but closes the door before I finish.
He does always turn down the music after being asked. (For that day.) But the next day, it’s just back to loud levels again. He looks very annoyed each time he opens the door.
It seems reasonable to expect that eventually he would get sick of answering the door and being asked to turn it down, but after a year it seems not.
Writing him a letter.
Because I couldn’t get a word in edgewise, I wrote a friendly letter and dropped in his mailbox explaining the situation, expressing an appreciation for his love of music, and asking to keep it down.
I had some workmates look over the letter, who not only approved it but expressed admiration for how friendly it was.
The day after I dropped the letter in his mailbox was the loudest I have ever heard the music be played, which leads me to believe he was trying to take revenge on me.
(Later on, there was a period of quietness for a few weeks, so I dropped off another letter thanking him for the quietness. But a few days later, the noise started right up again.)
Contacting strata (homeowners’ association / body corporate).
There is a strata manager (off-site), and an building manager (on-site). I have raised this with both, and quoted the fact that the strata by-laws explicitly forbid noise that disturbs other residents (time of day unspecified). While they acknowledged the issue, and claimed to have talked to my neighbour, it hasn’t solved the problem.
Sometimes, my neighbour was playing loud music at 2 AM. In those cases, I called the police (the non-emergency line).
In each case, the police took over 2 hours to arrive. I witnessed them knock on the door and walk off straight away. (They walked off so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to catch them and talk to them.)
I went to the local police station to talk to an officer. Contrary to my expectations, the officers were incredibly unhelpful and unempathetic, and told me there’s nothing they can do.
Use noise–cancelling headphones.
I got a pair of noise–cancelling headphones. While they get rid of white–noise, they don’t get rid of the deep bass thumping noises that come from next door.
Get used to the noise.
For two months, I decided to try to increase tolerance towards the noise. Think about it positively, accept it as a thing, observe my reaction to it in the third–person, and move back to the task I was doing.
Unfortunately, this didn’t help at all. Though I thought the thoughts, my blood pressure was high and heart rate did not go down at all. It’s now been a year of this noise, and it feels worse then when it first started.
Things others have suggested but don’t work:
Getting him to mark the acceptable spot on his volume dial with a marker pen.
This is a good suggestion, but only works if I can properly talk to him. As it stands, I can’t (see above). But I would be willing to try if it were possible.
Things others have suggested but have serious negative consequences:
Moving out would leave us significantly financially worse off (apartment has dropped 20% in value since purchase), and are 2 years into a 30 year mortgage.
Not to mention the unfairness, stress and expense of (a) looking, and (b) actually moving, and (c) the risks of experiencing the same problem in a new place.
If I could predict the future I could have bought somewhere else or rented instead. But I can’t, so I didn’t. I’m only interested in solutions that fix the real situation, not fix the immutable past.
I don’t want to do anything illegal, unethical, or things that will cause him to take revenge.
Cut his power, or remotely change his TV volume via Bluetooth.
Again, illegal and unethical, and then I’d be worse than him.
How can I communicate to my neighbour that he has to stop disturbing with loud music?