what is normal noise for evening hours?

noisemakerDecember 18, 2006

So, I just moved into a duplex, it's a side by side with my front door positioned next to my neighbor's bedroom. A question has come up here: what is normal noise level for night time. For example, after 10pm do you tip toe around or whisper to avoid noise complaints? I have a couple of neighbors who would like for me to whisper after 10pm because they are light sleepers. Unfortunately, most things wake them up. We sometimes chat or play cards at night up until 1am or so. But, we use our indoor voices. We've moved our living room area away from the shared wall, but it hasn't helped. Their complaints are bordering on harassment, now. The husband bangs on our wall often and comes to the door occasionally. We feel that we have the right chat if we want to chat, whenever we want. And, we actually do care about their well being. It's just that we've already altered our behavior to accomodate their needs and at this point it's hard to be any quieter. What do you think?

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do they know you've altered your behavior, moved your living-room area? Maybe they're so crabby because they don't realize what you've done already?

I will say that I feel that after 10pm you shouldn't be "hanging out chatting" in the room directly next to or above the bedroom; it's unfortunate, sort of, that your living room is right next to their bedroom. (in my apt bldg, I can stay up late in the LR without worries, because it's above the LR below; likewise, my neighbor can watch TV late, bcs I'm in the other room asleep)

But it sounds as though you've tried to mitigate that.

Whisper, no, not even if your bedroom were next to theirs should you have to whisper. I'd say that, given the layout, etc., you shouldn't have music going, and maybe shouldn't be raising your voices when you should "gin!", but you should be able to talk to one another.

(are you sure your "inside voices" are the same level as most other people's "inside voices"? I know that my own voice projects MUCH more than I realize--I can fill an entire room with volume, without even realizing it, and without shouting. I have to watch it sometimes, because I think I'm being "normal," and I'm actually a little loud)

I wonder if you could start a conversation with them about it? It sounds like you're sort of at a tough negotiating spot, because you've essentially made all the concessions you want to make (and perhaps all that you SHOULD make). but maybe if you just had an opportunity to say, "we realize the difficulties; we don't mean to be uncaring; we have already made several changes; we can't do any more, now it's your turn to figure out what to do; your hammering on the wall, etc., is becoming a problem for US."

Or make the same points by letter, and CC the landlord (do you have one? or do you own?). (and include some literature on white-noise machines, LOL!)

    Bookmark   December 19, 2006 at 1:25PM
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I would also suggest they were earplugs for sleeping. They are the best thing that ever happened to my sleep (besides ambien). If I didn't wear earplugs to bed, very small noises would wake me up. I live in a building where people can hear their neighbors walking above them quite easily (I have already posted about that here). When my earplugs fall out occasionally by the morning, the walking noise of my upstairs neighbor at 6:30am usually wakes me. When they don't fall out, I don't hear a thing.

I also used to live above a bar in a fairly noisy neighborhood but once those earplugs were in, I couldn't hear the bar noise any more. I would, however, still wake up to my alarm so that wasn't a problem.

I think since you have tried to make concessions to these neighbors, now it is up to them to make some compromises as well.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 1:00AM
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Thanks for the follow up. We do have a landlord- and he decided that we should pursue mediation. I think this is in most part due to my neighbor calling him late at night to complain about our chatting. In exploring this mediation option, my landlord found out that we must first have a meeting to outline quiet rules, and then if that doesn't work we can get the help from a mediator through the city.

I think that my landlord is sympathetic to my point of view -which is that we're talking quietly, and that should be okay. But, during the meeting, my neighbors went on and on about how they ALWAYS whisper after 10pm, they don't flush their toilet, or close the medicine cabinet door for fear of disturbing me. (My bedroom is next to their bathroom) This is fictitious. I hear their toilet nightly, and it doesn't bother me. But, they seem to want to illustrate that I am a disrespectful neighbor in comparison to their supposed saintliness. They exagerate often and in describing one incident, they "accidentally" stated that I disturbed them at 12:30am, instead of the actual time which was 10:30pm.

I suggested the use of earplugs, since I actually wear them once in a while to get sleep if the house next door has a party going on. Their response was that they have ear problems and cannot wear earplugs. It's odd, because they describe us having turned up the music/tv, following one complaint in retaliation and this is definitely not the case... we had on a rain sounds cd. Rain sounds... and they said that they heard us turn up the music or tv -I don't even have a tv. And, we could hear the quiet rain sounds over ourselves, so we couldn't have been that noisy. The day after this that incident, they blasted their stereo with techno music at 7am, when they left for work and kept it on all day.

I am having a hard time responding to the neighbors because of their disingenuous behavior. But, in the meeting, we agreed on quiet hours. The quiet hours are 11pm on for weeknights and 1am on for weekends. This is a good compromise because my neighbors would ordinarily pound on the wall for "noise" as early as 9:30pm.

These quiet hours are written in to our lease temporarily (it's a 1 week trial). Although I do not mind setting up quiet hours, I have one problem now, which is that the language used by my landlord on the lease amendment specifies that we should whisper or make no noise. This was the language that my neighbor used, and wasn't really a view shared by my landlord. But, I am unwilling to sign anything attached to my lease which specifies that I have to whisper or be silent, because I do not believe that I can sustain such a measure for the long term. If it was written in permanently, I could be evicted for violating my lease is I happenend to make a noise that disturbed the nwighbor. So far the establishment of the quiet hours seems to have apeased my neighbors, even though I haven't changed my level of noise substantially. ??

After this week, I would actually like to go through mediation in order to establish what a reasonable level of quiet is. All we seem to be doing is arguing over what's reasonable. If they want to whisper and tip toe that's their prerogative. I did not originally sign a lease with silence requirements, I feel I am doing my best to be considerate of their needs.

    Bookmark   December 20, 2006 at 8:43PM
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I would not sign anything that requires you to whisper. Sorry, no. It's just wrong.

I also think this should not be a "written into the lease" issue, not beyond the "quiet enjoyment" wording that is traditional. I would flat-out refuse. It's a major concession on your part, and I would NOT give it.

I especially would never sign anything w/ "whispering" or "no noise" as part of the wording.

And, what are THEY giving up? Not pounding on your wall? Wow, what a big hardship for them!

"not yelling" is about as far as it should go, verbally, anyway--and not in any legally binding way. I think in general, people should try to talk from room to room. But you should be able, even at 3a.m., to talk quietly to someone sitting across from you at the table.

If they can hear this through the walls, the walls are too thin.

I was going to suggest that, if you were wanting to think of any other concession you could make, that you ask the landlord for dimmer switches, and you lower the lights slightly after 10pm, so that the lower light level helps you remember to keep your voices a little low (not whispering, for God's sake!).

It's time to start saying to them, over and over: "I am entitled to the quiet enjoyment of my home as well. Perhaps if our ordinary conversation bothers you, it's time for you to invest in a white-noise machine or to look for a home in which the bedroom does not back up onto the living area of the adjacent unit, or which has thicker walls." Over and over.

Your landlord might not love the idea of your hinting that he should lose a tenant, but he might also be willing to be rid of them.

I would also prepare a letter in which you rebut every inaccurate thing they have ever said. Politely, briefly, w/ no slurs on them and their movitations, but accurately. Make them look as "hysterical" and "overly dramatic" as they possibly can (all by themselves)

So far the establishment of the quiet hours seems to have apeased my neighbors, even though I haven't changed my level of noise substantially. ??

This is why I suggested that try to get into a longer, cordial conversation w/ them in which you make it clear that you are making concessions even if they aren't aware of it bcs it's on the other side of the wall. Sort of like the customer-service rep saying sympathetically, "I'm sure you must be frustrated w/ our company's policy, and I'm sorry it's inconvenient for you" can defuse angry customers quite rapidly. Just them feeling that they've been heard can help their attitude. (the placebo effect?)

    Bookmark   December 21, 2006 at 2:05PM
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I've recently been through a major hassle involving upstairs neighbours who believed their noise was reasonable, when it really wasn't at all.

But, I don't consider myself hypersensitive to noise. I just want to be able to sleep but also to enjoy my premises in the evenings before I sleep - afterdinner hours, to watch television, read, and so forth. I'm willing to sacrifice some nights for the sake of my neighbours' enjoyment, but, having to put up with noise nightly is too much.

Perhaps your indoor voices are louder than you think. Or, perhaps, you speak quietly mostly but get a little excited and your voice goes up a bit from time to time and you aren't aware of it. I wouldn't say you have to whisper but I would say the indoor voice I use during the day, would not be appropriate at night.

It may also be that there are other noises he's upset by but hasn't mentioned ... heavy footfalls, moving furniture, etc. Things that during the day wouldn't bother anyone but late at night - because there are no background sounds - can be really disturbing. Especially vibration sounds (chair scraping across bare floor, heavy pounding footfalls, etc)

Night noises have to be quieter than day noises, and yes, you do have to "tiptoe" a bit at night to avoid problems with alot of neighbours. Not ninja-like, but, different than daytime anyway. I'd say if the noise is bugging him, and you do it every night to 11pm, he will probably just get upset again in the future - just as you have a right to enjoy your premises, so does he, and sleep is not enjoyment, its just a necessary function. Going to 11 every night means he doesn't get enjoyment; he just gets enough to function (which is better than not getting enough to function, but still not enjoyment). I think maybe you should take a break some nights from your card games etc, and let him have a little of what he wants, and maybe he'll be more accomodating of what you want.

It's like this; you've got the right to chat, but he's also got the right to do things like paint or read that might require focus and quiet, or even just enjoy a bit of evening quiet. Your noise can penetrate his apartment and disrupt his ability to do that. You both have equally valid rights, that are in conflict; my suggestion is that half the week, you find quiet things to do at night so he can have the quiet enjoyment he wants, and the other half the week, have a few card games with a mind to keeping it down, so you can have the quiet enjoyment you want.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 4:48AM
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please,you still have a right to live.I'am up all hours of the night.No,I'm not partying with loud music or anything,but if I want to watch tv,or load my dishwasher,I do it.Really you cant get into trouble unless you making an abnormally amount of noise.Like rearranging your furniture in the middle of the night or hanging pictures on the walls.
On weekends you have a bigger window though.I have had people over that have stayed until around 1am,and so long as we arent screaming and being disruptive,it is our right.You arent in an old peoples home.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 6:12AM
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I agree with the above poster completely. You pay for a place to live, you have the right to live within reasonable boundaries. There's nothing wrong with playing cards with friends until 1 in the morning as a fun time. Just because you're in an apartment doesn't mean you can't have friends over late every once in awhile. That said, of course you can't be loud and inconsiderate, but it doesn't sound like you're crossing this boundary. So...they're likely just people who enjoy complaining.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2006 at 10:37PM
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" Just because you're in an apartment doesn't mean you can't have friends over late every once in awhile. "

Oh I agree ... but just not every single night til 1 or 2 am. Other people have paid for their apartments too, and they should also be able to do normal things - like if they want to be able to watch television or read sometimes. If they have to work and someone is having company every night til that hour, when do they get a chance to do that?

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 6:36AM
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Hi, so to give you an update: I didn't sign the amendment that required whispering or silence. I wrote a letter to my landlord saying that the language in the amendment didn't reflect our previous verbal agreement, and I wrote that I was entitled to the quiet enjoyment of my home at all times but that I could agree to keeping noise to a miminum during the quiet hours.

My landlord went on vacation for these two weeks, so nothing else has really come of that. The neighbors agreed during the meeting to stop banging on the wall so we haven't been harrassed that way since the meeting. And, since the quiet hours started at 11pm/1am they can't really complain before then anyway. They used to bang earlier.

I had to write a note to my neighbors regarding a seperate issue. It was a nice note, and they responded in a friendly way. I was relieved. But, what's peculiar is that they included in their reply, a thank you to us, it said something like, "they way things had been this week was the way they'd hoped things would be with us as neighbors." They were thanking us for supposedly being quieter during the temporary quiet hours.

They perceived our level of noise to have changed, even though it didn't. We didn't change our behavior significantly. The only thing that was different about this week is that we were away at holiday parties a couple evenings and the neighbors were too. When we're not at home, they think we're being quiet.

You'd think that I would be pleased that they are not as bothered anymore, regardless of our actual behavior. But, I am worried. Once things get back to normal after the holidays we'll be back to the same problem.

I think that I should clarify something that I posted earlier about our card playing... we like to play this game called skip-bo, it's not a game that requires much talking, especially not shouting. I think that when I just said card playing in my earlier post it probably conjured up an image of loud laughing, shouting, drinking, etc. And, that is just not the case. We usually chat but it's a quiet game, and they're are only two of us.

    Bookmark   December 30, 2006 at 9:34PM
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it's also possible--let's hope--that because they have had a conversation with you in which you have said, "we do understand that we have an obligation to be quiet," they have changed their perception of you, and THAT has influenced their perception of the various stimuli.

Good luck! (I knew what you meant about "playing cards")

    Bookmark   January 2, 2007 at 11:18AM
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Edgewaters -

I agree you need to keep things quiet, but not all company is loud. I don't see one neighbor playing cards interrupting other watching TV or reading myself - unless they're too loud, of course. Some people just stay up till 1 to 2, I'm a night owl myself, and I do have to get up by 7 for a full day's work.

Then there's the night workers who want to sleep during the day when everyone else is being noiser because of the sun being out. It's kind of a no-win situation for a lot of people. I guess the best thing to do is expect strange hours around the apartment and learn to live with the typical moving around/social noises (as long as they're not too loud), and not be unrealistic about noise level.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2007 at 8:18PM
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Absolute silence after 10 p.m.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 7:53AM
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My neighbors have already complained that I am loud- and "drag furniture across the floor". Im thinking- I live alone and dont weigh 100 pounds are you really saying that I move furniture all night long? After a few nights of very quiet thought and no phone calls fearing I will wake the downstairs neighbors, Im thinking NO WAY IN HELL am I going to tiptoe around MY own place, whisper in my bedroom and not watch television after 10. I go to school at 7 every morning and usually dont get home from work until 8 or so- So thats the only time I have to do laundry and dishes and catch up wiht friends and family. They CHOSE to live on the bottom floor. I KNEW that I wanted to live on the top floor so I wouldnt hear people peeing, eating, and walking above me. If you (or I) were being unreasonable and blasting music/having parties/ letting the dog bark till all hours of the night, I can see how someone could complain. But I dont feel that I should have to change my normal living routines because the people downstairs go to sleep at 9:30.

    Bookmark   March 8, 2007 at 2:11PM
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my apartment complex has what is called quiet time.between 10pm and 8am it's required to b quiet enough that neighbors don't hear one another at all!!!through the walls or otherwise.and the landlord does enforce it when complaints occur.people that want to play their music at a normal volume or gather in groups should do so at decent hours.alot of people that get off nights have the qattitude that hey have the right to carry on on their lives as the same person that's off during the daytime.but that's not the rational.many people don't care and disrespectfully refuse to keep music and voice ata minimum level(as the lease states to do,generally after 10pm in most leases).i got so i don't speak to neighbors diectly about their noise anymore cause usually if they're bnormally loud,they're conscious of it and just don't care.i always speak to he landlord first.if i wake up and hear my walls bassing or people laughing and carrying on at 2am as tho' it's 12 nioon,i pick up the phone and call the cops(not 911--the main nonemergency number).i learned a long time ago that neighbors don't get angry because you've gone to the management or called the cops about their noise.they get mad because you've stopped then from doing what they see as being perfectly acceptable.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2009 at 8:46PM
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Around here, it's SUPPOSED to be 10 PM but these silly ass***** that live here don't care what time it is. They hammer all night long, pound, bang on the walls, let their unruly, undisciplined brats run around screaming the entire night, etc. This is why I'm moving in about 2 weeks! The countdown has begun! :)

    Bookmark   June 16, 2009 at 1:46AM
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"Absolute silence after 10 p.m."

"between 10pm and 8am it's required to b quiet enough that neighbors don't hear one another at all!!"

These two people aren't explaining apartment complexes, they are talking about prisons.

What these two people said is completely impossible, and just plain stupid.

I got a cold, I've been coughing a little at night, I could get kicked out for that? What about flushing the toilet or running the water? Kicked out?

Absolutely NO noise before 8AM? Do I really have to explain that half the world is getting ready for work before 8AM? A shower makes a lot of noise for the surrounding apartments, but that would get you kicked out.

Can you blow your noise? What if your phone rings? What about your alarm clock, are they banned?

There is a WORLD of difference between party animals and someone watching TV at normal volume or making a meal. If you can't handle small sounds from other people, then go buy a house. But to expect absolute silence when living in a building with dozens of other people is idiotic...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 10:11PM
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Noisemaker at this point you and the neighbor should demand that the landlord put in soundproofing material on the adjoining walls. If he refuses ask to break the lease and move to a place that is quieter. If he says you can't break the lease then you should get someone who specializes in renters rights to help you get out of it. It is his responsibility to make sure that both parties are comfortable in his duplex. There is no way that noise can be eliminated in a situation like that unless he installs the proper material to alleviate the problem. Neither of you should have to live your lives whispering to keep each other happy. That is a sad miserable way to live.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 12:40AM
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