Tag Archive: noisy neighbors

Self-help done wrong

New Yorker hires hitman to “take care of” noisy neighbors. Drew Schwartz, Vice, writes about Joel Rosquette, a 50-year old New York City resident who allegedly “got so fed up with the unruly teens living across the hall, he hired a hitman to take them out.”  Well, first he wanted to off his superintendent with the hope that the new super would stop the teens from being so damn loud, but then he decided to go after the source.  Sadly for Rosquette, the “hitman” was an undercover FBI agent, and, well, we know how this ends.

The kids are still raving and Rosquette is looking at 30 years in the slammer.

 

How to deal with noisy neighbors

By Arline L. Bronzaft, PhD, Board of Directors, GrowNYC

Alexandra Levine’s recent article on noisy neighbors revealed how New York Today readers have dealt with noisy neighbors. While simply speaking to your “noisy” neighbor may result in a lessening of the din, there are many times when polite requests don’t work. Some residents, we learn from the article, turn to shaming their neighbors into quieting down. I have heard about others who “fight back” by inflicting similar intrusive sounds on the offensive neighbors. I do not suggest this latter response because I believe people inflicted by noise have a better case when they don’t engage in similar offensive behavior.

As a member of the board of directors of GrowNYC, where I oversee its noise activities, I am often asked to intervene on behalf of New York City residents whose requests to their neighbors–and even to the managing agents of their buildings–to “quiet it down” have gone unheeded. In writing to the managing agents on behalf of the people who have sought my assistance, I urge them to direct their attention to my research and writings on the adverse effects of noise on health. I explain that noise is not just an annoyance—it’s a health hazard–and that those in charge of managing buildings must familiarize themselves with the deleterious effects of noise so that they do not dismiss noise complaints, as many do.

When we talk about noise we are not necessarily talking about loud sounds, as bothersome sounds can disturb sleep, rest, or simply reading or watching television. Noise is defined as unwanted, unpredictable, and uncontrollable sound. Short of the harmful effects of noise on health that are discussed in the research, noise diminishes one’s quality of life.

I include GrowNYC’s Noise brochure which discusses health effects of noise and ways to lessen noise with my letters to managing agents. I also point out that under the the warranty of habitability clause in their leases residents in both rental buildings and cooperative dwellings are entitled to “reasonable quiet” in their homes. In follow-up phone calls to my initial letters, I explain the word “reasonable.” One could say that a reasonable person would be bothered by footsteps from the above apartment at six a.m. in the morning. Unreasonableness, on the other hand, would be a complaint of a toy dropped by a visiting grandchild once and only once.

I will then direct the telephone conversation to the specific noise problem and ways to abate it. I ask if the required carpeting is in place in the apartment and if the superintendent or managing agent has gone to the apartment to hear the noise. I, too, have dealt with a sex complaint that was handled by suggesting that the couple who was the source of the noise move their bed several inches from the wall so that it would no longer bang against it during sex. Often, I suggest that all residents receive flyers that speak to the harmful effects of noise and what can be done to lessen noises in their own apartments.  Finally, I stress that neighbors should be informed that living together in a building means respecting the rights of others, and this includes greater quiet in apartments.

New Yorkers face so much noise as they traverse the streets of our city. When they get to their apartments and close their doors, they hope for some quiet. Let’s join together and provide quiet for our neighbors and in return hope they will do the same for us.

Dr. Arline Bronzaft is a researcher, writer, and consultant on the adverse effects of noise on mental and physical health. She is co-author of “Why Noise Matters,” author of “Listen to the Raindrops” (children’s book illustrated by Steven Parton), and has written extensively about noise in books, encyclopedias, academic journals, and the popular press.  In addition, she is a Professor Emerita of the City University of New York and Board member of GrowNYC.

What can you do about noisy neighbors?

Photo credit: Denise Cheng licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Derby Telegraph offers some guidance for dealing with the neighbor in love with his leaf blower or outdoor audio system. While some of the suggestions may not translate well–the Derby Telegraph is a UK newspaper–some will. Namely, the first suggestion is dead on, unless, that is, you have reason to know that your neighbor is unstable or obnoxious on purpose:

[T]he first thing you should always do is speak to the person causing the noise. Most of the time they don’t realise they are causing a nuisance and are usually happy to change what they are doing.

If reason does not prevail, the article provides a link to the Derby City Council website and walks the reader through the process of filing a noise complaint online. We have some catching up to do in the U.S., but there are communities with mechanisms to complain about noise, like New York City’s 311 system. But if there isn’t a reasonable way to file a complaint where you live, find out who represents your ward or neighborhood and ask him or her to propose one. There should be a process to address noise and other complaints that comes between constituents seething in impotent rage and calling the cops as a first measure.

And we don’t know about you, but we learned one very interesting fact from this article: Germany has “strict ‘quiet hours’…between 8pm and 7am and all day Sundays and holidays.” Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised, as “Germany’s love of silence led to the first earplug.”

Man takes revenge on noisy neighbors

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How?  By buying a ‘building shaker’ and leaving it on all weekend. Shanghaist reports that a Xi’an resident named Zhao was having problems with his upstairs neighbors whose little boy was jumping and running and disturbing his rest. Zhao complained to building management and tried to talk to the neighbors about the problem but to no avail, so he resorted to Plan B: Operation Self-Help. Long and short, Zhao “went online and bought a ‘building shaker’ for 400 yuan [Ed.: about $58], looking to give the noisy neighbors a taste of their own medicine.” He turned the building shaker on one Friday evening and then left his apartment for the weekend.

The article makes it clear that Zhao got his neighbors’ attention. In fact, they complained that the constant thumping was “driving them insane.”  When he returned to his apartment,  police officers asked Zhao to turn the building shaker off. Shanghaist states that it is not known whether Zhao was punished for his “act of revenge.”

While we would not suggest this sort of thing, and certainly not as a first step in addressing a noise complaint, we’re guessing that Zhao’s neighbors were a bit more mindful after that weekend. Just saying.

There’s a new ally in the fight against noise pollution:

The Noise App will help you to make a complaint about your noisy neighbours.  The Standard reports that The Noise App will allow users to make 30-second recordings and apply timestamps and GPS location data so that their local authority has full information about a noise complaint. The recording doesn’t serve as evidence of a noise violation.  Rather, it’s meant to “prove to [the] local authority that noisy neighbours are a problem worth investigating.”  In addition, “[u]nlike the voice recorder on [most] phones, which compresses sound so [there’s no] background noise interfering, The Noise App records uncompressed sound so it picks up everything [the user is] hearing.”

The Noise App sounds like a good and efficient way to take in necessary information to investigate noise complaints while filtering out unreasonable complaints.  Some people obviously agree as one council and five of London’s biggest housing associations have signed up to The Noise App.  Now the important question is this: When will it be coming to the U.S.?  Please?

Link via @QuietMark.

Technology harnessed to combat noisy neighbors in Northern Ireland:

New app targets noisy neighbours, “permits anyone with a smartphone to record and upload a snapshot of the actual noise nuisance that they are experiencing.”  While there is the possibility of the app being used as a tool of harassment, the Belfast Telegraph reports that “there are inbuilt safeguards within the technology that will provide verification to the council’s investigating officer of the recording’s authenticity and a facility to ‘block’ those who have used the app maliciously.”

Maybe U.S. cities should consider employing technology to help them monitor and respond to noise complaints.  If nothing else, it could help address the frustration suffered by those trying to lodge complaints, as a visit by the police or other authority often comes after the offensive noise has stopped.

He just had to stop the noise:

Man starts fire in apartment over neighbors having sex.  So, what exactly pushed him over the edge?  The defendant told the police that he started the fire “because his neighbors were having sex and making too much noise.”  How much noise?  So much that he decided that “he would rather go to prison and ‘get away from the noise.'”

We understand the defendant’s frustration while noting his lack of judgment.