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Dealing with noisy neighbours

UrbanAdventure.org 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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Gobbo 9:02 am 12 Jan 10

Did I miss the post where the decibel level this woman is reaching was given?

Perhaps the Police aren't doing anything about it because her level of noise is within acceptable guidelines. It could just be the unfortunate design of your house.

Perhaps you could rent elsewhere?

Pandy 7:55 am 12 Jan 10

Really, you could have done one of the many other things than to whinge to the coppers yet again.

I suggest you set-up a video camera and ointed in her direction and record her over several nights, and then present it to the authorities

baldilocks 6:04 am 12 Jan 10

Heard this story some years ago & hope it is not an urban legend.

Similar kind of story but from Rockhampton in Qld.

A shift worker would come home and then play classical music very loudly from 11 pm to 3 am and keep all the neighbours awake. Complaints followed but the guy totally refused to do anything.

Neighbours then got together and hired some good sound equipment and placed speakers right around this guys property. 15 minutes after the guy stopped playing the classical music, just in time for him to go to bed, the neighbours started playing country music very loudly and kept it going until about 7 am. Kept this up for about a week, during which time no one got much sleep.

Result - the problem classical music player was no longer a problem and no longer bothered the neighbours.

I've got a similar problem with a neighbours barking dog. We cannot go out on our deck without the dog barking, and he frequently wakes us up at 3 - 4 am. When we first moved in, the neighbours introduced themselves as the ones with the noisy dog, so they were well aware of the problem. I'm thinking about recording the dogs barking, and whenever he wakes us at night, I will phone the neighbour (whatever the time) and play the barking back at them.

UrbanAdventure.org 1:10 am 12 Jan 10

Well 1 am, after trying to sleep I'm still awake. She's still playing her TV, the police have not bothered to come around, funny though, when I was listening to their chanel through the live streaming (http://anwgans.dyndns.org/cgi-bin/scanner/launch.pl) it was remarkably quiet. They seem remarkably reluctant to do anything about her.

UrbanAdventure.org 11:38 pm 11 Jan 10

Damn, the quiet was short lived.

It is 11:37 on a stinking hot night and she is at it again. I rang the Queanbeyan police, and then drove down there to report it but I've been told that they are too busy to deal with it.

I have run out of sick days, so I expect that as I will be too tired to go to work tomorrow that I will have to take a day off without pay. How is it fair that she can take money away from me like this?

Bugger it for a joke, I guess I do have no other choice but to move. :(

Postalgeek 11:27 pm 11 Jan 10

Get one of those citrus no-bark dog collars and put it around her neck. You could stick bling on it and call it a necklace. If she makes too much noise, it'll give her a squirt. Or better yet one of the static shock collars. They come with remotes that work over 100 meters. That way you can zap her from your bed, or your bathroom, or out on the street in the car.

Vic 9:47 pm 11 Jan 10

[quote comment="246029"]Musical instrument stores generaly have a huge range of high quality reusable ear plugs.[/quote]

They also sell TRUMPETS.

Have you seen 'The Fixer?' on telly?

goose 9:05 pm 11 Jan 10

This idiot we have had to deal with for years.

Extract from ABC news.

Man guilty of throwing boiling water at partner

Posted Fri Jan 8, 2010 10:00pm AEDT

A 40-year-old Canberra man who assaulted his partner two years ago has now been found guilty of intentionally throwing boiling water at her.

Kenneth James Armstrong was charged with intentionally inflicting actual bodily harm.

His partner told the court he was very angry when she arrived home from work in September last year.

When they got into the kitchen, she said Armstrong broke the lid off a kettle and threw boiling water over her face and upper body.

She told the court Armstrong said "you're going to get what you deserve".

Armstrong told the court he had been filling up a bath with hot water and slipped in the kitchen, causing the water to spray over his partner.

Magistrate Maria Doogan said there was no way the woman's injuries could have happened in his version of the incident.

He will be sentenced next month.

The problem here is the woman is just as bad as the boofhead himself. Taking drugs, booze etc... and going on nightly rampages, we have put up with this crap for years.

When her teenage kids lived with her it was even worse. Burnouts etc...

I wish they would both be locked up, they deserve it.

UrbanAdventure.org 8:26 pm 11 Jan 10

[quote comment="246028"]Your other neighbour was kept up by this lady's incessant coughing? HAH! Please![/quote]

I kid you not. My other neighbour is an insomniac, and the lady used to cough quite incessantly. Thaankfully she isn't doing it now. Not her fault though.

UrbanAdventure.org 8:14 pm 11 Jan 10

Ahh bliss.

Last night, just after my post last night, silence, quietness. The TV went off. I got a nice quiet sleep for the first time in ages.

I have to agree with some people, there's no sign that this woman is deranged or insane. She obviously holds down a job She obviously drives. I think the defanition of an "average" person is one who can catch a bus. When it comes down to it perhaps we should deal with her behaviour, the TV noise, not her motives.

Lilli 6:51 pm 11 Jan 10

I'm not sure whether it would help your problem much, UrbanAdventure, as it is quite some months away, but I advocate Rigmarole and others suggestions of offering a friendly face. It is amazing the difference a friendly smile can make to someones day!

Rigmarole - Neighbour Day sounds great. Are you aware of anything official happening in Canberra for the day this year? I think you should create a post on RA about this - I would be interested in seeing how others may be celebrating and what they may be doing.

georgeb 6:38 pm 11 Jan 10

I think that pink silicone earplugs are much better (though more expensive) than foam. Available in some chemists. Don't get clear silicone - it is much harder.

Crime and Punishment has some useful suggestions on how to deal with unpleasant old women who are spoiling one's life..

Rigmarole 5:23 pm 11 Jan 10

I live in units in Narrabundah and something similar happened to me last year. Happily my neighbour immediately turned his TV down and now when it occasionally gets a bit loud I ignore it, or turn mine up to compensate, as I know he will lower it if I ask.

Your courtyard sounds like a great space to have a get-together for Neighbour Day (last Sunday in March) to bring all the neighbours together and make sure that your noisy neighbour gets an invitation and the opportunity to bring a plate along. That might put her in a better frame of mind.

I'm planning one myself. See more here: . Good luck.

RandomGit 4:11 pm 11 Jan 10

The best ear plug material of all time is Blue Tac.

OF ALL TIME!

Special G 2:27 pm 11 Jan 10

Snappy trip to Fyshwick buy some porn and play it non stop with speakers facing her apartment while you enjoy some sleep with the headphones or earplugs in. Coul dalso provide some mild amusement when the Police come knocking at you door with a complaint about the loud sex noises.

I use the silicone earplugs (shiftworker) and they block out the noise created by small children and much better for the ears over repeated use.

niftydog 2:20 pm 11 Jan 10

[quote comment="246059"]You can get specially made latex earplugs... Try calling one of the gun shops...[/quote]

Any audiologist can make these for you, and you can choose the level of attenuation you want. They're very comfy, easy to get in and out, can be cleaned and used again and again.

You can even get them in 'ear bud headphone' configurations for blocking out the world when listening to your iPod.

prhhcd 1:32 pm 11 Jan 10

I'd hate to mention this urbanadventure but I've been in your situation 2x now, both times living in apartments in NSW, tried everything. Including petitions, letters to BC, police, liasion officers, etc etc etc.

Outcome - nothing happened, nutters stayed and I moved. Peaceful sleep is so important. The inconvenience of moving is worth it - oh, BTW you can actually legally break your lease when this sort of thing happens - without penalty.

Live in a lovely quiet neighbourhood now. In a house....

youami 12:56 pm 11 Jan 10

[quote comment="246024"]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.....![/quote]

I love it! Note to all Canberrans: there are good public servants just as much as there are good private company employees just as much as there are nasty public servants just as much as nasty private company employees. Being in the public service is IRRELEVANT to your character and tendancies to commit naughtiness. C'mon seriously, the only difference between a public servant and a private company employee is who pays you! Work ethic btw (as I have found out over the years) is surprisingly the same...

So anyway, my advice is to buy noise-cancelling headphones. They can be expensive but at the same time you can use them to listen to your own tv show or your own music in the bliss of your own little non-distracting audible world. If you are worried about wanting to hear smoke alarms etc. don't worry because from what it seems your block is made to the same shabby standards of most new NSW-ACT buildings so your neighbours will clearly hear that noise for you and then wake you up! Easy! In fact why don't you occassionally burn some toast when you know your neighbour is asleep. Or better still go and catch a cold so you can have an incessant cough for yourself! And don't worry my friend I don't think either of these things are illegal.

threepaws 12:35 pm 11 Jan 10

[quote comment="246029"]Musical instrument stores generaly have a huge range of high quality reusable ear plugs.[/quote]

They also have a huge range of musical instruments. Have you considered taking up drumming?

Mordd 12:28 pm 11 Jan 10

I really am amazed at how readily the readers here ascribe the woman mentioned in the OP as the problem with conditions ranging from insanity ("she's crazy") to dementia, or even just deafness. As well how everyone just takes as evidence what the OP has said without anyone questioning the OP on whether maybe theyre a tad too sensitive to noise (god I can imagine how they would go living in a lot of places in Sydney or Melbourne, maybe they should move to Tassie for the rural quiet they crave, not the fastest growing town in NSW for the past 5+ years....) and you all just presume this woman has to be to blame and must have something wrong with her that explains why she is obviously so "horrible" to live with. Whatever happened to caring communities, looking after our frail and elderly, and a bit of goddam understanding and common human decency. The OP says they attempted to talk to the person what a whole 2 times before they started calling the police on the woman. If that was me in the womans position I would have been pissed off about that myself. The only half sensible suggestion made in here is some type of mediation with the neighbour, most disputes like this usually can be worked out by sitting down and calmly discussing the issues with a trained mediator. Try common sense before jumping to extremes.

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