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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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DavoDavo 4:35 pm 15 Jan 10

I love #55!
“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.”

ROTFL!

The Huntter 2:19 pm 15 Jan 10

Document everything. For 2 or 3 weeks, write down the date and time of every interaction with and reaction from your neighbour. Present your real estate agent (and your neighbour’s) with the information and break your lease if you can’t manage to get her evicted.

PBO 12:33 pm 15 Jan 10

Buy a Sonic Nausea device from eBay (yes, they are legal). They actually work! Leave one near an open window of hers.

Grrrr 9:25 am 15 Jan 10

Two thoughts:

White noise. Get a cheap pedestal fan for your bedroom and turn it on high. It’ll provide plenty of pleasant sounding noise which will cover up outside noises .. and cooling on hot nights.

Go over there and complain each and every time it’s too loud. Take your digicam and put it on movie mode if you want evidence of the old lady beating you up.

Gobbo 12:33 pm 14 Jan 10

OK, she isn’t frail and aged. She hasn’t taken steps to turn down the noise. The Police aren’t interested as they view it as a neighbourhood dispute.

Have any of the different types of earplugs that have been suggested work?

Have you tried approaching Conflict Resolution?

weaponx 10:26 am 14 Jan 10

Seriously, the lawful path has failed, time to take matters into your own hands. Start blaring your own music when you suspect she is sleeping, provoke her into attacking you and have her charged with assault, contact the strata and attempt to get her removed (your RE agent thus far has proven useless), contact a lawyer, get the neighbours together to angrily confront her (mob style for max intimidation), grow some balls or ur gonna have to gtfo.

Deckard 9:24 pm 13 Jan 10

Asking twice is about right. Once should be enough for any normal person to take notice.

UrbanAdventure.org 7:48 pm 13 Jan 10

Oh, and I forgot to point out, despite her age, this woman could quite easily cause a lot of harm if she attacked anyone. She’s not aged and frail.

UrbanAdventure.org 7:46 pm 13 Jan 10

Mordd said :

UrbanAdventure.org said :

You chose to delibretly ignore where I wrote that I politely spoke to the woman first twice and *she* got agressive at me. I a not going to risk her assaulting me. I don’t now her, I don’t know if she is harmless or if she will fly off the hanle at me. As far as I am concerned, once she gets agressive, it is better to play it safe and have the police deal with the issue.

No I didn’t miss that part at all. You’re defence of “oh I don’t know how she might act, she might attack me” is ridiculous and lame though. She is quite elderly as you mentioned, when was the last time a 60yr old? was it woman physically attacked you? If she flew of the handle at you asking her nicely to turn it down, maybe she didn’t view the way you asked as being plilte but as aggressive and thus she responded to you in kind. Not even going back and trying to talk to her again though, but instead calling to call the police night after night, is not only doing nothing to solve the issue, but is simply ridiculous. If you really are that scared of her attacking you, why don’t you get another neighbour or friend to go with you and try going to talk to her again. You are simply avoiding dealing with the issue in one of the many ways suggested to you here UrbanAdventure. A troll I may be at times, but in this case I am not trolling, I am continuing to ask the same questions i’ve asked in my previous posts to try and shed some light on the other side of the story. Theres always 2 sides to every story my friend, and you started out by saying “im a public servant so i never break the law” lost you all credibility in my eyes. Its up to you to prove you have done everything reasonable to talk to the woman, not expect us to take it for granted, and frankly you obviously haven’t attempted to talk it out in full yet.

Okay, sorry for calling you a troll.
But honestly I politely approached her twice before calling the police. She’s not in her 60s, she’s probably about mid 50s. Yes, a lot older than me granted, but I’ve also been the victim of several compleatly unprovoked violent attacks in my life, including being shot at and being stabbed in the shoulder, so I am quite scared of people who yell at me and who get agressive.
I am a public servant, and yes I am extreemly law abiding. I have no criminal record what so ever, and only ever had one parking fine for overstaying in a two hour parking spot and even then I was legally allowed to stay there for twice the displayed time as I had a disabled parking permit.
I have never had a complaint against me made by any of my other neighbours, and communicate very well with them.
I have tried speaking to this woman twice politely.
I have contacted a mediation service and requested their assistance. They have written to her.
I have contacted the Queanbeyan council who have totally neglected their responsability to do something, and have not visited the woman, claiming that if noise occours at night it is a police responsability and that they can do nothing.
Instead of taking the law into my own hands and doing something illegal or stupid, I have followed the guidence given to me by the police when I first contacted them which was “If it happens again, let us know” which I am beginning to realise might perhaps mean “we’re just telling you this to be polite, in reality we don’t want to deal with this.”
I have used foam and silicon ear plugs and both block the sound to some degree but both make my ears feel like they are on fire and cause head aches.
I am now spending most nights sleeping in my car, and only getting limited sleep doing that.
On Tuesday I was so tired I could not go to work and had to take a day off without pay.

I am really loosing hope and perhaps my sanity with this. I have done everything a reasonable person could do here. I’ve acted with politeness and good moral intent. I’ve followed the guidence of the relevant authoraties. I really can not cope with this much onger. I find myself on the verge of tears an the sheer imposability of my situation. I know my work is not happy with the time I am taking off and as I am on probation having just started I realise that there is a very good chance that they will not keep me on.

In short, my life is hell, and I just don’t feel like going on any more. If you think I am bullshitting, give me your contact details, you can come over here and see if you still think that way after a week with no sleep.

sunshine 6:10 pm 13 Jan 10

housebound said :

Universal remote – if she’s asleep, she’ll never know ’til morning.

i like this one!! could really have some fun. Would it work with the next unit though? Haven’t used one before so not sure what their ranges are

Mordd 5:09 pm 13 Jan 10

UrbanAdventure.org said :

You chose to delibretly ignore where I wrote that I politely spoke to the woman first twice and *she* got agressive at me. I a not going to risk her assaulting me. I don’t now her, I don’t know if she is harmless or if she will fly off the hanle at me. As far as I am concerned, once she gets agressive, it is better to play it safe and have the police deal with the issue.

No I didn’t miss that part at all. You’re defence of “oh I don’t know how she might act, she might attack me” is ridiculous and lame though. She is quite elderly as you mentioned, when was the last time a 60yr old? was it woman physically attacked you? If she flew of the handle at you asking her nicely to turn it down, maybe she didn’t view the way you asked as being plilte but as aggressive and thus she responded to you in kind. Not even going back and trying to talk to her again though, but instead calling to call the police night after night, is not only doing nothing to solve the issue, but is simply ridiculous. If you really are that scared of her attacking you, why don’t you get another neighbour or friend to go with you and try going to talk to her again. You are simply avoiding dealing with the issue in one of the many ways suggested to you here UrbanAdventure. A troll I may be at times, but in this case I am not trolling, I am continuing to ask the same questions i’ve asked in my previous posts to try and shed some light on the other side of the story. Theres always 2 sides to every story my friend, and you started out by saying “im a public servant so i never break the law” lost you all credibility in my eyes. Its up to you to prove you have done everything reasonable to talk to the woman, not expect us to take it for granted, and frankly you obviously haven’t attempted to talk it out in full yet.

housebound 11:37 am 13 Jan 10

Universal remote – if she’s asleep, she’ll never know ’til morning.

Rasberry 8:53 am 13 Jan 10

Too many comments to read every single one, apologies if someone else has already suggested this. Buy her some headphones, forget your earplugs. I realise that you may not wish to buy the woman a gift, but think of it as an investment in your sleep, and might work towards restoring the peace with this unreasonable woman.

Good Luck

Gobbo 8:46 am 13 Jan 10

No, I am not a toll Urban Adventure. I am a person who realises that the police will only have very limited powers in this case … and even more limited powers (read none whatsoever) if no laws have been breached.

🙂

Sorry you can’t get the police to do what you want in this situation.

Talking to you neighbour is a good start. Taking steps to reduce the noise (eg wearing plugs) is also a good step. However, as nothing has come from that, try mediation. It is a neighbourhood dispute, not a police issue.

cleo 1:07 am 13 Jan 10

Maybe you should take the fuse out a few times until she gets sick and tired of replacing the fuse, maybe she will stop then.

UrbanAdventure.org 9:52 pm 12 Jan 10

Mordd said :

Gobbo said :

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?

No you didn’t miss it, as far as we are all aware the OP hasn’t made any attempt to measure the noise, although keep in mind the law actually goes off whether the noise is excessive from inside the complainants residence, not a set decibel level. I too suspect though that the noise isn’t actually as loud as made out, keeping in mind queanbeyan is normally very quiet at night and even lesser noises will travel and sound louder that they really are, that would also explain why the police haven’t done much about it, I suspect they walk away each time shaking their heads at the OP and the woman he is complaining about.

You know I did have this problem once myself, I tried talking to the neighbour a few times though instead of calling the cops on them after the 2nd/3rd occasion, and after asking them 3-4 times over the course of a couple of weeks when it was a problem they agreed to move their tv slightly so the sound didn’t go straight out their window and into mine. Fact is this is a “normalm peoblem” in blocks of flats, and in 99% of cases can be worked out by simply being reasonable and willing to compromise and being friendly with your neighbours. Fact is the OP seems to have 0 interest in resolving this through any method other than the police though, so personally I can’t exactly blame the woman for trying to antagonise him further if that is what she is doing.

Ahh, a troll.

You chose to delibretly ignore where I wrote that I politely spoke to the woman first twice and *she* got agressive at me. I a not going to risk her assaulting me. I don’t now her, I don’t know if she is harmless or if she will fly off the hanle at me. As far as I am concerned, once she gets agressive, it is better to play it safe and have the police deal with the issue. The police themselves avise us to follow that course of action. “Don’t take the law into your own hands, call the police” So I have.
Now admit it, anyone who posts the crap you have been postng to delibretly inflame the issue is just a troll.

Mordd 3:26 pm 12 Jan 10

Gobbo said :

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?

No you didn’t miss it, as far as we are all aware the OP hasn’t made any attempt to measure the noise, although keep in mind the law actually goes off whether the noise is excessive from inside the complainants residence, not a set decibel level. I too suspect though that the noise isn’t actually as loud as made out, keeping in mind queanbeyan is normally very quiet at night and even lesser noises will travel and sound louder that they really are, that would also explain why the police haven’t done much about it, I suspect they walk away each time shaking their heads at the OP and the woman he is complaining about.

You know I did have this problem once myself, I tried talking to the neighbour a few times though instead of calling the cops on them after the 2nd/3rd occasion, and after asking them 3-4 times over the course of a couple of weeks when it was a problem they agreed to move their tv slightly so the sound didn’t go straight out their window and into mine. Fact is this is a “normalm peoblem” in blocks of flats, and in 99% of cases can be worked out by simply being reasonable and willing to compromise and being friendly with your neighbours. Fact is the OP seems to have 0 interest in resolving this through any method other than the police though, so personally I can’t exactly blame the woman for trying to antagonise him further if that is what she is doing.

Hank 3:19 pm 12 Jan 10

Ask the Waldorf how they did it.

Aurelius 12:34 pm 12 Jan 10

Urban, unfortunately, Queanbeyan Police have a disease that is relatively common in such organisations, where they will exert considerable effort in *not* doing their jobs. They also have demonstrated a habit for charging those who are critical of them with offences they have no evidence for, because a case can drag out for months before they’re actually required to stump up and show some justification for their actions.
As for complaining to their Superintendent, he is a worse sufferer of the aforementioned disease than his staff are.

Snarky 10:00 am 12 Jan 10

Get the ear plugs – several of us have suggested sources – and give them a whirl.

If they work, problem solved.

If they don’t you’re only down a few dollars and you know you’ll have to move.

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