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Dealing with noisy neighbours 10 January 2010 93

Hello all.

For more than two years I have lived in a rather nice and quiet block of units. There are not too many of us. Some are owners, some like me are renters. I get on well with my neighbours. I make a point of never doing anything to my neighbours that I would not want done to me. I regularly ask them if any noise I am making is disturbing them, and they do likewise. In short, it is a great place to live where most of the time all is in harmony. Or at least it was until a couple of months ago.

On the opposite side of my courtyard a woman moved in. Older, with some grey hair. Almost immediately she started playing her television up late at night at a volume that was not excessively loud, but loud enough to be heard very clearly in my unit at night, even with my door to the courtyard closed. So I went around and politely asked her to turn it down. Which she said she would. But she didn’t. A couple of nights later, after having endured some more sleeplessness I go around and politely ask again. And I do mean politely.

This woman immediately gets irate and insists I come in saying that her television is not making any noise. Only it is not only making some noise, it is making quite some considerable noise. I try to point that out to her, but she stands there and yells at me that it is not, and is clearly getting quite irate. I explained that from my courtyard I could hear her television over my own television and invited her to come listen to it but she won’t have a bar of it. She insisted she was not making any noise and is clearly now very angry at me. So I decide to leave and say that the next time she has the television up I’ll call the police.

I have to admit I was pretty unhappy at her aggressive behaviour, and her total inflexibility in admitting she was making noise. Well, so begins two months of living hell.

This woman started to play her television up loud from the moment she got home to the moment she went to work the next day. That is ALL night, EVERY night. 🙁

Now I need my sleep, so I did the only thing I could do, which was to call the police. One night I had to call them three times because after they left (I could hear them talking to her at least once) she just turned the television up again. I didn’t want to annoy the police over what would seem to be a trivial thing. but when you get only 3 hours sleep a night, then some one keeping you awake is no trivial thing. To make it worse, she was clearly repeatedly playing a dvd or video as I soon came to recognise repeated sound tracks and words. This woman was playing some show over and over again!

I’m not the only one affected. My other neighbour who is an insomniac also heard this and we’ve spoken about it. Initially She was kept up by the incessant coughing of the noisy neighbour.

Anyway, before Christmas I contacted my real estate agent and the Queanbeyan Council about the issue. Thankfully the real estate is looking in to it. They can sympasise with the issue, and as I’ve always paid my rent on time and never done anything wrong, as well as looking after the place, they value me as a tenant. So I thought things were on the up and up.

Then this morning I get a knock on the door and there’s a couple of police officers wanting to know if I turned off her fuses this morning. Of course I have not. Though the thought had crossed my mind several times. Why the heck would I climb out of bed when I am sleeping, to turn off the woman’s power though? Early morning is the only time I ever get any sleep. Besides which, as a public slave I know full well that I could loose my job if I do something, anything illegal, and subsequently am extremely law abiding. I mean here’s this rather nice and polite police officer explaining how we all have to make allowances when we live in close proximity and I’m standing there thinking I know that, I live by that, I hope he told her that as well. I was also thinking that I’ve called them enough, they should know by now that if I have an issue with this woman the first thing I’m going to do is call them, not play with her fuses. It also occurs to me that some of my neighbours simply don’t have my patience and have probably flicked the fuses to shut her up. This silly woman has probably put 2 and 2 together and come up with 16.

Then again, as I said, the thought had crossed my mind, but if I was going to resort to sleep deprived insanity I’d make a proper job of it and take to the fuse box with a nice insulated hammer and reduce it to small unworkable parts and then I’d yank out the cable from it to the meter box ensuring that she could not have power for weeks. But in reality, I’ve always been a pacifist, and it is far simpler and easier to just move if she insists on continuing to make noise.

So, I’m in the situation where I barely get any sleep, the noise is enough to keep me awake, but not loud enough to be heard from the street. Ear plugs are not effective, and give me instant headaches. If I leave the courtyard door open I get a full blast of the TV. If I leave it closed I boil in the heat and can still hear the television. I’ve called the council, I’ve called the police (lots), I’ve spoken to my real estate agent who is progressing. Now I’m being falsely accused of flicking switches which may or may not have even happened (anyone crazy enough to play their television all night and isn’t a shift worker, is probably crazy enough to make stuff like this up to cause me trouble). On top of that I’ve become so fatigued I’ve had to take time off work, my doctor has prescribed sleeping tablets and I have noticed I am not as focussed driving as I normally am. I’m basically a walking zombie.

The frustrating thing about this though is that this woman has not bothered to do anything reasonable to come to a compromise. Right from the start she said she’s made no noise. Instead she could have spoken to me calmly instead of being intimidating and we could have worked out any number of compromises. She could have used teletext on the television, headphones, wireless headphones. If she needed the television on to get to sleep why not use a timer to turn it off when she was asleep? Why not close her courtyard door at night?

If anyone knows of any approaches I have not yet taken to remedy this situation please let me know. They have to be legal though. While I may have evil thoughts of jumping up and down on her television that will not solve anything. In the mien time I will probably have to spend yet another night sleeping in the heat in my van in the back yard.

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93 Responses to Dealing with noisy neighbours
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Cameron 6:52 pm 10 Jan 10

Your other neighbour was kept up by this lady’s incessant coughing? HAH! Please!

Mordd 6:39 pm 10 Jan 10

Wow, that really is an impressively long whinge, life must be so hard for you….

Ok now without the sarcasm my response is: Awwwww, poor diddums!

Sounds like there is more to the story anyway that portrayed, personally the line of “im a public servant so I never break the law” is just too much for me. Let me put this to you real simple like: Get…. a….. life…..!

Holden Caulfield 6:28 pm 10 Jan 10 said :

If anyone knows where to get the soft foam ones, please by all means post here.

Your local chemist, perhaps.

Good luck, sounds like a pretty crap situation, even if we are only getting one side of the story.

If all else fails, watch the “Communication problems” episode of Fawlty Towers, that will most likely give you a giggle at the very least.

sunshine 6:28 pm 10 Jan 10

Conflict Resolution Service, ACT (CRS)
The Conflict Resolution Service (CRS) was established in 1988 as a not for profit community organisation which provides dispute advice, mediation, facilitation and community education to assist in the prevention, management and resolution of conflict within the wider ACT community. The service is confidential, impartial, easy to use and mediation is free in most cases. The service is suitable for multi-party disputes such as workplace disagreements and is accessible to those individuals with disabilities and from non-English speaking backgrounds. CRS can also provide Training and Professional Development courses for any size company, organisation or government department. Course content can be tailored to suit the individual needs of the business including role plays and activities which allow participants to relate the theory of the course to their everyday workplaces and situations.
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Canberra City ACT 2604

Woody Mann-Caruso 6:10 pm 10 Jan 10

Get yourself a bowler hat, a crotch protector, some big black boots and a glass of milk.

jennybel75 5:38 pm 10 Jan 10

Generally you can buy the soft foam earplugs at any chemist. 5:31 pm 10 Jan 10

Eby said :

Have you thought about contacting the Conflict Resolution Service? I believe they can deal with neighbourly disputes.

This is by far the best suggestion. Any idea how to contact them? Google is being too friendly and giving me results from every where but Queanbeyan. I found the conflict resolution service in Google but their web page does not open for me. A phone number would be great.

MrPC said :

She’s probably half deaf and doesn’t know it. To her the volume is normal. Dig up a flyer for your local audiologist, make copies, and leave one under her windshield wiper every day.

I thought she might be, and suggested this to my neighbours and the police, but the police officer who visited on Friday said she wasn’t and he’d tested that theory. Which has me even more mystified as to why she would need her TV up so loud that neighbours can clearly hear it.

troll-sniffer said :

Buy a bag full of foam earplugs. …
Hand out some of the plugs to your neighbours as well…


I actually quite like the idea of handing them out to my other neighbours. I used some when driving around in Europe back on 2007 and they were great. Parked in road side rests with no issues. I wish In could find some soft ones like I had then. The hard foam ones give me an instant head ache. I’ve tried Bunnings and Magnet Mart and they’ve both got the hard foam ones. If anyone knows where to get the soft foam ones, please by all means post here.

puzzlepunk 4:26 pm 10 Jan 10

Ive noticed that in a lot of apartment complexes in Canberra there is usually no consideration for sound dampening between units. For example in apartments above the Coles in Manuka I could her my neighbours switch their lights on and off quite clearly through the wall, so them watching the TV at a normal volume level was also very loud. If she is keeping her noise levels in the legally accepted levels for the time of day then here is not much you can do I mean without installing sound dampening products in the walls.

… or move, your sleep is important.

troll-sniffer 4:13 pm 10 Jan 10

One more thing, the body corporate/units dwelling laws have clauses stating that no tenant or occupier may cause noise sufficient to interfere with the peaceful enjoyment of another unit or words to that effect, so the managing agent/body corporate can arrange for the matter to be dealt with permanently.

troll-sniffer 4:11 pm 10 Jan 10

Buy a bag full of foam earplugs. You can get a box of 200 on ebay for $50.00 delivered. Moisten the ear canal slightly to ensure they slide in all the way and seal the ear canal properly. Then she can do what she likes, you won’t hear a thing. I used them on a recent holiday and there wasn’t single yobbo or truck kept me from my sleep, despite their best intentions.

And yes, a smoke alarm will get through to alert your sleeping brain, it’ll be audible rather than piercing.

Hand out some of the plugs to your neighbours as well… 🙂

Harriet Vane 3:30 pm 10 Jan 10

Is she renting? If so, report her to the real estate managing the property. Similarly, report her to the body corporate, who can get in touch with the owner about the issue.

If she is the owner, report her to the body corporate and ask that it be passed on to the owner of your property (or do this via the real estate agent–though, if they’re anything like the property managers I dealt with while renting, don’t expect them to do much at all). The owner of your property has an interest in protecting their investment.

Make sure you get similarly affected neighbours to do the same thing, so it comes off as more than just you complaining.

Eby 2:12 pm 10 Jan 10

Have you thought about contacting the Conflict Resolution Service? I believe they can deal with neighbourly disputes.

bd84 1:34 pm 10 Jan 10

Did you happen to write this at 3am when you couldn’t sleep?

I think you’ve done pretty much everything that you can do to silence the old bird. Body corporate, council and police. The body corporate issuing a directive for her to turn the volum down or if she is renting it would be the responsibility of the owner of the unit.

I personally liked the idea of jumping up and down on her tv, the fuse boxes of most units are normally on the inside of the unit so it sounds a bit strange that someone flicked the switch, it’s a good idea though! I wouldn’t worry about the police questioning you about it, they did it as their duty to shut the old bird up and keep her happy with an attempt to keep the peace. Even if it was you, they couldn’t do much about it. Maybe do it a few more times and she will learn.

knuckles 1:33 pm 10 Jan 10

Any chance you can get the women to post her side of the story? Nearly as good as Jerry Springer.

zig 12:31 pm 10 Jan 10

Sounds like you need to drink a cup of cement but I there again I can’t really relate to your issue. 😛

You could try buying one of those “turn off any TV” style remotes and keep turning her TV off when you think she isn’t actually watching it or has fallen asleep.

sunshine 10:40 am 10 Jan 10

not making any excuses however maybe she’s deaf and has no idea how loud her tv is – she may have gotten pissed off with you for pointing out her issues.
i care for a couple of elderly relatives so i know how cranky they can get over losing their hearing as they age – as anyone would.

good luck – hope you find a resolution asap – it’d drive me crazy

Feathergirl 10:39 am 10 Jan 10

I can sympathise with you as the dog next door barked all night (and I mean ALL night) last night and, without aircon, I had to sleep with the window closed – very stuffy.

You seem very pro-active, and that’s great! At least you are doing something and sound very calm under the circumstances. Since you are friendly with the other neighbours, perhaps you could host a units meeting and make it clear you are hosting a meeting so even if she doesn’t show she knows everyone else is meeting. Maybe have a speaker from the police or some issue-resolving type govie person attend. Peer pressure may break her stubborn streak.
Good luck, I really do feel for you. Some people may suggest you just need to harden up, but loosing sleep for long periods, weeks on end is a horrible torture.

MrPC 10:02 am 10 Jan 10

She’s probably half deaf and doesn’t know it. To her the volume is normal. Dig up a flyer for your local audiologist, make copies, and leave one under her windshield wiper every day.

toriness 9:59 am 10 Jan 10

the utter frustrations of modern urban living 🙁 sounds like you seriously have done everything you can. my only question which may help with a solution is do you live in a body corporate – if so, report the problem to them as there are rules about reasonable noise etc in body corporates and you may be able to force solution that way ie if she is a renter too, she could be evicted. alternatively, if she is a renter too – do you remember who advertised her place, and report the problem to them?

the woman sounds beyond inconsiderate – ie completely irrational.

I-filed 9:54 am 10 Jan 10

How awful for you – if you’re a renter, surely it would be less hassle and stress to move house yourself than try to fix what seems to be an impossible situation?

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