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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.

  • Contacting police.

    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.

    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.

  • Threaten him.

    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?

  • 1
    Did you try going to him when there is no music? Maybe start quickly with "I invite you to dinner", before he has a chance to close the door, to grab his attention? With other words, since you two are now definitely divergent, did you try to get him on your side, and then make him come your way from his own initiative? – virolino Aug 30 at 11:17
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    Since he avoids me during chance encounters (outside of the music–playing context), saying “I invite you to dinner” is somewhat inappropriate. Sure I would like to get him on my side, but I’m at a loss as to how. – A Stressed Neighbour Aug 30 at 11:24
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    From what you've explained this person sounds completely unreasonable, however are you sure he isn't retaliating from noise you have been making? I think most people would be surprised what can be heard through the walls of some poorly built apartment buildings so even if it seems like you aren't making very much noise it's possible that it is amplified in your neighbors apartment. Especially if you have a TV mounted on the shared wall or something. It could be that he thinks you are noisy and loud music is his way of retaliation. – Jesse_b Aug 31 at 13:09
  • Comments are not the place to suggest solutions; they are for clarifying or improving the post. There's also a number of now-deleted answers on this question that were not backed up and/or not interpersonal skills solutions. If you do choose to add another answer here please make sure to read through our FAQ on writing answers first. – Em C Sep 2 at 14:59
  • Its not clear from your post whether you've contacted your HOA/building-manager more than once. Unless you raise the issue with them again (and repeat as required) they have no way of knowing that their efforts to resolve it have been unsuccessful. You pay them to (at least in part) uphold the by-laws in your building - they need to be made aware that their job here is not done. – brhans Sep 3 at 17:15
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I once had a noisy neighbour who was very inconsiderate like yours. Talking to him, knocking on his door and writing him letters didn't help. You should look up the bylaws in your city and see if your city has any bylaw enforcement. You would probably have more luck with bylaw enforcement because the police often feel like their time is being wasted handling noise complaints.

You need to be insistent. Call them every time he's in violation of the bylaws. Even if this means calling them everyday. Your neighbour might get warnings at first but the officers will soon tire of visiting him and will write him a fine. This is what I did and my neighbour received a 500$ fine for playing music at 2AM. He stopped playing his loud music after that.

I would also try talking to other neighbours that share a wall with this problematic neighbour and to those living above and below him. They'll also be bothered by the noise. Explain to them that they have a reasonable right to enjoy their homes and shouldn't have to put up with this noise. Tell them how to phone in a noise complaint with bylaw. You want as many people as possible complaining to bylaw.

I know your question is about resolving this amicably with your neighbour but it sounds to me like you're past that.

Alternatively, you could sound proof the shared walls. This will cost you some money but it'll be cheaper than moving.

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    Sound-proofing has its limits. The cheap foam doesn't dissipate bass well (which noisy neighbors generally have set to max), so unless OP is willing to spend a lot, it likely won't make much of a difference. – BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft Aug 30 at 22:47
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    Sound-proofing of walls, as used in music studios, is to prevent sound reflecting off the walls, not to prevent it being transmitted through. – David Richerby Sep 2 at 18:21
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From your post, at least to me, you've tried almost everything a civilized person can do. Time for action now! As what I'm thinking right now isn't per se an IPS solution, I'll focus on another way to sort this out.

I've seen this kind of individual and attitude (my girlfriend had a neighbour like yours, before we move together, some years ago), and she had tried everything, like you did. No way out, and unfortunately, no success. Until we hear of third-party advisors and local councils (Europe). A quick search was successful, I found that you have the same in Australia. Quick links: how to deal with bad neighbours and What Can I Do About My Noisy Neighbors?.

In your case, I'd seek help. Mediation seems to be the key. And your next step would be to seek the help of a third-party mediator. As we did, some time ago. In our case, this very unfriendly and unrespectful person did it again, and again, and again, but after many other complaints (3 more1), it was clear that he was the one that broke the agreement. And the police took over, helped by the mediator, who had all proofs. This time, policemen couldn't just do a quick move or call, they had to take action. He ended up in court.

Sometimes, when you can't do something by yourself, external help is your best bet. To me, it is, in this case. It's the smoothest way to deal with this, as you won't be the one who escalated.

1. of course, document eveything! Every little misbehaviour has to be reported. You keep a log file of every offense, that you'll give to the mediator once you meet again.

  • Mediation only works if the other party is also willing to talk. I'm not sure that's still a possibility here. Are you suggesting mediation ordered by a judge? – Mast Sep 2 at 10:16
  • 1/2 Mediator takes over. It means they ask for an appointment (phone, letter...), or go to the neighbour's door. They explain everything, and ask for a meeting. Refusing to meet the plaintiff, to listen to arguments, to give and take, negociate, all this means you'll (most probably) end up in court, but the mediator will have reported both behaviours and their will to find a nice way to sort this out. You did, bad neighbour didn't. What will the court think of that? It's not only you, it's also the proof given by an independant third party. – OldPadawan Sep 2 at 10:34
  • 2/2 That's the best way to deal with it that I found, between "do it yourself" and "go to court", and the last step inbetween. So yes, it can work, but if it doesn't right away, it'll help later anyway. – OldPadawan Sep 2 at 10:38
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You mention that he "hates wearing hearing aids". I suspect that this is the root of the issue: If he plays the music at a level that you find acceptable, then he can't hear it. If this is age-related hearing loss, then he might also be in denial about how badly he needs them.

This may tie into why he closes the door on you - if he can't hear you talking, he might decide that the conversation is pointless. It's still rude, but it's a "different type" of rude - actually admitting to you that he can't hear, and ending the conversation properly would mean admitting that he needs to wear his hearing aids.

Unfortunately, unless you can "magically" convince him to start wearing his hearing aids, I doubt there is any solution that both parties will be even partly satisfied with.

Now, I don't know about Australia - however, certainly in the UK, there are multiple types of hearing aid (in ear, over ear, digital, analogue, ones with Bluetooth connectivity, et cetera). Depending on your particular scenario, you may or may not be eligible for certain types on the National Health Service, but not for others - if you wanted those, then you would have to pay an additional premium.

As such, and this is a long-shot, but it is possible that there is a type of hearing aid that your neighbour would be comfortable wearing, but is unable or unwilling to pay for. If so, a donation from all the neighbours could cover that - or, at the least, embarrass him into wearing the ones he already has.

Here follows a relevant anecdote: my grandparents both used to be rather lax in wearing their hearing aids, until once they turned on the TV and saw the rest of the family wince at the wall of sound we were blasted with. Upon my grandmother then putting her hearing aids in, she then realised quite how loud it was set, and quickly turned it down. Since that experience, they have both started wearing their hearing aids far more often! If you are somehow able to convince your neighbour to put their hearing aids in while the music is playing, they might realise that you're not just being rude or intransigent

  • Australia is a pretty well-developed country, you know. It's likely they have exactly the same kinds of hearing aids as in the UK. – David Richerby Sep 2 at 18:26
  • @DavidRicherby Ah, possible wording issue there: I do not know how healthcare and its funding work in Australia. All types of hearing aid might be available free-at-point-of-use for the neighbour, or they might have to pay for all of them. In the UK, you can get basic hearing aids from the NHS for free, but for anything more advanced than that you have to pay. – Chronocidal Sep 3 at 7:40

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