I live in a large shared house and it's a miracle things work as well as they do. There's one problem that's come up a few times and I'm not sure how to address it. One of my roommates has a boyfriend who often visits. He has a really loud voice (actually not so much loud, but very deep so you can hear it through walls). Her room is right beneath mine. Oftentimes they stay up late watching movies and I can hear them talking and laughing (mainly the boyfriend).

What's the best way to address the issue?

Normally I would just ask someone directly, but since this is a guest of someone else, it seems different. I was thinking of leaving an anonymous note. Should I single him out, as it really is only him who speaks loud at night time, or should I word it as a general request to whisper after night time? What specifically should the note say? My goal is to not be disturbed by his voice while resting and not offend anyone or make enemies with his girlfriend/my housemate.

When I say late, I'm talking about after midnight.

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    You don't actually say what you want from this situation. Do you want the talking to stop? Do you want the boyfriend to go home? Do you want trees that grow money? We need to to tell us what you want from this situation so that we can tell you how to achieve it.
    – Catija
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 20:44
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    @Catija isn't it kinda obvious? It sounds like they just don't want to be kept up past midnight by their housemate's boyfriend talking... Is it really necessary to state that directly?
    – apaul
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 20:55
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    @apaul yes. Yes and yes. We can not be expected to guess at what the OP wants.
    – Catija
    Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 20:57
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    In which country/culture did this situation arise? (That information is often relevant and may affect the aptness of answers.) Commented Oct 9, 2017 at 21:28
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    I agree with @Catija: What do you want to achieve? Absolute silence after a certain point, or is still hearing them, but quieter (say, low volume that doesn't keep you awake) also acceptable?
    – Tinkeringbell
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 15:50

5 Answers 5


I would avoid leaving an anonymous note... These can come across as being passive aggressive, see http://www.passiveaggressivenotes.com/, and it may be easy enough to handle it more directly in person anyway.

Having lived with a great many roommates, it's often easy to make a general request to the group, like:

Hey folks would you mind making an effort to keep it down after midnight? The walls are thin here and I can hear you talking at night. I don't mean to be harsh about it, but I have to get up early in the morning.

And leave it at that.

If the problem persists, you may need to go down stairs and tap on their door and ask them more specifically to keep the noise down, but hopefully it won't come to that.

  • "a large shared house" -> a general request to the group: good luck to gather all of them at once! And if this happens, most of them will think "hey, it's not me, no big deal". you'll have to go downstairs and talk to the ones involved...
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 5:10
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    @OldPadawan, everyone I know who lives in a shared house and they have a What'sApp group. I don't think getting a single message across to the house will be difficult. Your second point is valid though, people will assume it's not about them unless specifically told.
    – ESR
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 5:19

Normally I would just ask someone directly...

If you're on good terms with your roommate (the one with the baritone friend), you can simply ask her to ask her guest to speak softly after a certain hour so you can get your rest. You don't have to ask the baritone at all. If she's a thoughtful person, she'll understand.

Katy, I don't know if you realize how well Baritone's voice carries through the ceiling. If you want to sometime, you can have him talk/laugh, and come up and listen. It's fine until I need to wind down for bed. Do you think you could speak quietly after X o'clock? Thanks so much!

If that doesn't work, a few polite reminders (and a white noise machine) might help.

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    " you can have him talk/laugh" sounds a bit like talking about a pet of hers, doesn't it?
    – dhein
    Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 6:49
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    Nah, just sounds like she's talking about her boyfriend to me. Commented Oct 10, 2017 at 14:27

In situations like these, the problem is not the boyfriend but the roommate. The roommate is renting the room, not the boyfriend.

You need to address the issue directly with the roommate, preferably when the boyfriend is not around. You need to be polite and direct. Joking about it won't help your situation at all.

If you talk to her and the problem persists, the next step is to knock on their door when the noise gets too loud and ask them to be quiet explaining that although it might sound strange, the sound insulation on the ceiling is really bad and you're unable to sleep.

Do that a few times and see if the situation improves. If it doesn't perhaps you can contact the landlord/leasing company/association and register a complaint.


As someone who's been on both sides of that, I can say that the most simple approach is the best, if they are being loud while you're trying to sleep, just go downstairs knock on their door and say:

Hey, guys, do you mind being a little quieter, I'm having trouble falling asleep

If you have a good relationship with them there is nothing weird about just asking. And if I see a sleepy looking person in pajamas asking me to be quieter, I'd know why, and wouldn't think they're being unreasonable


Don't leave a note, I once got a note from a room mate and it definitely felt passive aggressive. Most people prefer to hear any requests for different behavior in person.

Just be frank and polite in your request. If you can throw in a genuine compliment in your request all the better.

Also, you may consider earplugs. I once had a room mate who would have shouting matches on the phone at 4:00 in the morning. And he would stay up all night watching TV. It was miserable, until I started using earplugs. Earplugs saved my sanity.

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