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We are living in an apartment, so obviously there are a lot of 'living' noises surrounding us. Even though we don't mind the regular noises (someone listening to his music a little louder, someone walking on heels ready to get going, kids playing), our neighbours are constantly fighting verbally.

I'm not overreacting if I say that at the moment it's pretty much all day. They are very loud and at some occasions the cops were involved.

They are a family of 4 consisting of a husband and wife and their 2 daughters, which are about 6-8 years old. If it's of any relevance it's a Maroccan family. They aren't communicating in Dutch.

Lately the fights are more constant and we understand that a couple might fight sometimes (we do as well), but I'm really sick and tired of listening to them all day long.

We greet each other and have the occasional chit chat, but nothing more.

Other neighbours are fed up with it as well, but we're directly living next to them.

Is there an interpersonal solution in which I can ask my neighbours to mind their surroundings? I am afraid things will just escalate between us as well.

18

(Been there, done that)

First of all, let's abandon the "none-of-my-business" mindset, if any: itself, the fact that you would like to let them know they are disturbing you to some extent can't come without you snooping into their business even if maybe minimally.

I think that, if things between you and them are to escalate, they will only do if you directly tell them to "shut up" or to "calm down" or to "quit it", etc. etc.; in my humble opinion and experience so far, statistically people do not like to receive "orders" although well-motivated.

Rather, it might be a good idea to low-key offer help, something among the lines of:

Hey good morning. [smile] Is everything OK? I think I might have heard voices from your apartment last night, not sure if it was the TV, but I would like you to know that I'd like to help if I can.

The point is:

  • almost surely you can't help
  • almost surely they don't want you to help anyway

but the main point is that this way they're clearly receving a message from you that their voices landed on your ears no matter how thick the walls are (and that they are being watched/monitored, should any actual violence take place); at this point, there are two alternate options:

  • a. there's some politeness left in them and therefore they'll stop/hush down
  • b. they are just rude and/or self-centered people and therefore ignore you completely.

In case of option a., good job; in case of option b., I'm sorry but there's really no way to deal with rude people other than either ignoring them or deliberately escalating.

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    "Is everything OK?" => This. If there's yelling and screaming frequently to the point where the police have been called to the residence multiple times, then sooner or later it's going to escalate to physical violence and someone, probably the wife, is going to end up injured or dead. Instead of asking "how can I get them to stop bothering me?" ask yourself instead "is there anything I can do to help them/her?" – shoover Nov 24 '17 at 16:28
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    One possible thing that can happen with this, is the person might open up to you, and proceed to share with you some or all of the emotional baggage they are carrying. Even though it is rare, it can happen. So before asking, be sure you are not in a rush and are mentally prepared. – Anketam Nov 24 '17 at 19:18
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    I'd prefer a phrasing of "I heard shouting from your apartment". Saying "I think I might have heard voices" just undermines your own credibility and understates how loud and bothersome it is (if I can somewhat hear my neighbours speaking at any volume if I sit in complete silence, it doesn't mean it's bothersome). – NotThatGuy Nov 25 '17 at 18:16
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    @D_S He couldn't have known, but the husband pushed her through a (glass) door once. At the time we didn't live there though. Child services won't do anything, because the wife won't press charges. – Kevin Nov 27 '17 at 6:43
  • I am accepting this answer, because I think it does a better job of being direct (I am hearing noises) and asking if they need help. – Kevin Nov 27 '17 at 6:50
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I'm assuming that because you're trying for an interpersonal solution, you don't want to get police or the landlord involved.

You say:

They are very loud and at some occasions the cops were involved.

That suggests that they know about it, but don't care or don't think it's that big of a deal. Oftentimes, trying to tell them that they should mind their noise level because it disturbs you is a surefire way to not have that happen.

What I found works better personally (at least in the 2 instances where I've had to find a way to quell noisy neighbours) is to try and spin my request into a positive for them. Use points like

  • If they keep being so loud, a complaint may be lodged against them with the landlord by other neighbours
  • Their noise level is alienating them from other neighbours, whom they might need help from (This carries the "I want to help you by telling you this in case you're not aware" with it)
  • The cops could be called again and neither of you want that

The goal here is to spin this from a request on your behalf ("I want you to do this for me because you're bothering me") to a conversation where you're trying to help them ("I don't want you guys to get evicted or arrested or be hated by everyone else"). I found this works much better than outright demanding they be quiet.

  • Thanks for your answer. Would you ask them this in a chit-chat or would you ring their doorbell? – Kevin Nov 24 '17 at 7:52
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    @Kevin I would bring this up when you're talking with them anyways – Magisch Nov 24 '17 at 7:53
  • thought so. What about when I don't speak with them all that often? When I meet them outside, they often have their kids with them. – Kevin Nov 24 '17 at 7:54
  • @Kevin Them having their kids with them shouldn't really detract from what you have to say. After all you're trying to help them avoid the wrath of your neighbours / the landlord / the cops – Magisch Nov 24 '17 at 7:56
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    It should be noted that it can be hard to make "the other neighbours might..." approach sound like it's not just a veiled threat of something you might do (because "if you keep doing this, we'll [call the cops / ...]" is assumed to be a bit too confrontational for most people). @Kevin – NotThatGuy Nov 24 '17 at 12:35
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Always try for a peaceful solution first. Assume the best of them. Do they actually realise that they can be heard through the walls? They may be horrified to learn that you can hear them arguing and this might make them modify their behaviour.

Call round and speak to them. Be calm and reasonable. Also do this during daylight hours and when it is quiet - if you go round in the middle of an argument they will already be angry. Some noisy people are also drunk, you won't have a reasonable discussion with someone who is drunk.

Perhaps say:

Hi, I'm sorry to have to bring this to your attention but recently there have been a few occasions where you have been quite noisy and this has disturbed my family. Did you know that we can hear raised voices (or music / whatever) quite easily through these walls?

If you don't have any safety concerns you could even briefly invite them into your home - seeing the layout of your adjoining property might help them visualise you on the other side of their walls and make them think twice about being noisy. For example, they may not realise your living / sleeping area is adjacent to the room where they listen to music / argue!

So that is the interpersonal bit answered. If they don't respond well to you raising this then seek advice from your local authority. They will probably ask you to keep a log of specific incidents with dates/times. Also, have you tried putting your own music on at a low level? This might mask some of their normal 'living' noise.

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    One possible approach: don't complain about your neighbors' behavior. Complain about the thin walls that let everyone hear each other's business, and how you had to learn to be quieter when you moved in. This family may come from a place with different cultural norms, after all, and may not realize that Dutch apartment dwellers expect a moderate level of peace. – arp Nov 24 '17 at 19:03

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