Your Neighbors (and How to Live With Them)
Having great neighbors around can be terrific. You can ask them to feed your pet and keep an eye on your apartment when you’re away on vacation. You can borrow and lend things. You can get yourself invited over to eat that delicious-smelling dinner they’re cooking. No matter how you view it, getting along with your neighbors can help with lots of things. However, problems do come up. How you handle them can impact on your relationship. Here are some common issues and ideas on how to handle them.
One of the biggest problems apartment renters face is noise from other tenants. While you should be reasonable about certain noises or understanding if the walls are particularly thin, there are some noises that you should probably address.
- Late-night noise. Take a look at your lease and see if there are any particular quiet times laid out. Many will ask for residents to keep the noise down between 11pm – 6am, or outline certain times for weekdays and weeknights. Know what you’re allowed to be annoyed by.
- Talk to your noisy neighbors. Stop by and politely explain that the noise is bothering you and ask if they might be able to take it down a notch. Ask if you might be able to have a phone number or email address so you can contact them if it continues to be a problem and to open more lines of communication.
- Ask to plan ahead. Ask your neighbors to let you know if they’re planning a party or think the noise levels are going to rise. Knowing it’s coming means you can prepare for it, and shows that they’re aware it could be bothersome.
Some neighbors may or not be aware of when they’re becoming an issue. For example, you may have a neighbor who regularly parks in your private parking spot, or allows their guests to do so. They may leave garbage outside their door, allow their pets to relieve themselves in public areas without picking it up or even get a full grill going right underneath your window, filling your apartment with smoke. What then?
- Try calmly talking to them. Point out that what they’re doing is bothering you and you’d appreciate it if they could stop doing it.
- Offer solutions on what else they could do. For example, point out visitor parking for their guests or a better place to have their grill.
- Follow up. Follow up with a thank you if you see they’re cooperating with your request. A little thanks goes a long way.
Smells travel when you live in an apartment. From cooking and baking to cigarettes or illegal substances, there’s always a possibility that you might be able to smell it in your apartment. While cooking or baking smells may not always smell delicious, there’s not a lot you can do about that. However, other odors you can certainly have dealt with. This particular issue may be a bit more tricky to deal with than simply talking to them, so speaking to your landlord or apartment manager might be your best first course of action.
- Find out if this has been a problem in the past, and if there are any easy solutions. Chances are your landlord has heard this before, and may be able to advise you on this.
- See if your landlord or apartment manager may be able to talk to the neighbor. This may be particularly appropriate if you live in a non-smoking apartment and consistently smell smoke.
- Follow up with your landlord to see what was done and how it was handled.
When to Notify Your Landlord
While handling problems yourself is generally the best course of action, there will be times where you may want to involve your landlord. These include:
- You’ve spoken to your neighbor several times and their behavior is still problematic.
- The issue is particularly sensitive and you’re unsure of how to approach it (see “Neighborly Smells.”)
- You believe your neighbor’s behavior is a breach of your lease and feel your landlord or apartment manager should know about it.
You can ask your landlord or apartment manager to keep your name out of it and make the complaint anonymous to avoid further conflict with your neighbor.
When to Call 911
When complaints happen, there is always a chance that things could escalate. Though rare, you should be able to feel safe in your apartment home. Some situations where you may want to involve the authorities include:
- Your neighbor has threatened you.
- Your neighbor has purposefully damaged your property.
- Your neighbor has assaulted you.
- You’ve heard fighting or violence and are concerned for one or more of the tenants.
- You smell smoke and believe there may be a fire.
- You believe your neighbor or resident is injured and requires medical assistance.
Though you can report some of these situations anonymously, if your neighbor has threatened, assaulted you or damaged your property, you may need to obtain a police report. This will help should you need to take further action. Be sure to share this with your landlord.