Storage Solutions

How to Deal with Loud Upstairs Neighbors

noisy neighbor playing guitar while couple tried to enjoy a glass of wine

Your home is your own private sanctuary where you can retreat from the world and enjoy some peace and quiet. But if you live in an apartment building with noisy upstairs neighbors, your quality of life could suffer, leaving you frustrated and exhausted.

Here are some tips for how to deal with noisy upstairs neighbors and how to reduce noise from upstairs neighbors so you can get some rest and relaxation.

Research Your Local Noise Laws

Noise laws vary from state to state, so it is important to understand your rights before taking legal action. For example, the New York City Noise Code details how to report a noise complaint by calling 311 or filing a complaint online.

But before you resort to these extreme measures in New York, review the Residential Noise Control Guidance Sheet and scroll to the relevant section based on whether your nuisance noise is related to construction, animals, air conditioners, music, or something else. The New York Police Department handles neighbor-to-neighbor noise complaints but typically only needs to be called out when noise levels reach exceptional levels. There are similar laws established in other locations too, many of which you can find online with a quick search that includes the name of your city and state.

Politely Approach Your Noisy Neighbor

Keep in mind that most noisy neighbor issues can be resolved with a simple conversation because many people don’t even realize how much noise they are making and how it affects others. Choose a good time to speak to your neighbor, when they aren't rushing off to work or looking exhausted with an armload of grocery bags at the end of the day. Take a calm, friendly, yet assertive approach to introduce yourself if you aren't already acquainted and describe in detail how and when the noise has impacted you.

Suggest a plan for the noise in the future, such as turning down music after 9 pm or not using DIY repair tools before 8 am. If speaking face-to-face makes you nervous or you can't catch your neighbor at a convenient time, you might also consider leaving a note on your neighbor's door.

Noise-Proof Your Space

Another solution for what to do about loud upstairs neighbors is to take matters into your own hands and noise-proof your apartment. Some noises are unavoidable in NYC apartments because of a building's age, construction materials, lack of soundproofing installed, and the acoustic layout.

Here are some soundproofing strategies to try:  

Turn on a white noise sound machine

Although white noise machines are commonly used to help people sleep, you can also use them during the day during predictably noisy times, such as when your neighbor has a guitar lesson or practices a woodworking hobby.

Use fans or low-volume television to drown out the noise

In a similar way, you can turn on a fan or your television or radio on a low volume to deal with a loud neighbor who is making too much noise upstairs.

Move furniture to change the layout of your apartment

It might be worth rearranging your furniture so that your bed or couch is not directly below a particularly noisy part of your upstairs neighbor’s apartment. Sometimes just a small readjustment can make a big difference in what you hear from upstairs.  

Install acoustic tiles on your ceiling

As long as it doesn’t violate the terms of your lease, consider adding acoustic tiles, acoustic light fixtures, or padded panels on your ceiling to dampen the noise. Just make sure to ask your landlord before doing any electrical or construction work.  

Wear earplugs or headphones

If the noise is only sporadically annoying rather than constantly disturbing, you might be able to drown it out with simple earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones playing music, a podcast, or audiobook.

Get Other Affected Neighbors Involved

If a neighbor is producing excessive noise, chances are that you aren't the only person affected in your building. Mention your noise concerns to other neighbors in the vicinity when you see them to ask whether they are also hearing the noisy neighbor regularly.

Be mindful of the fact that this could escalate the issue and turn neighbors into enemies. However, this strategy could also support your case if you need to speak with your landlord or file a noise complaint later.

How to File a Noise Complaint

If your calm and reasonable efforts to address the noise issue with your neighbor aren’t working, it may be time to file an official noise complaint. First, check your apartment lease to see if a noise ordinance is in place, or speak with your landlord to address the issue.

Both the New York Police Department and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection are responsible for enforcing the city's Noise Code and implementing penalties for people who violate it. You can review the city’s Noise Code Penalty Schedule online to check what your noisy neighbor might have to pay for a first, second, third, or fourth offense. Regardless of where you live, you can consult a local lawyer for advice about filing a noise complaint. To pursue legal action, it is helpful to have documentation about the excessive noise and when it occurred. Keep a “noise log” with dates and times, or make audio recordings for evidence.

How to NOT Handle Loud Upstairs Neighbors  

With all of these positive and proactive strategies in mind for how to deal with noisy upstairs neighbors, there are also a few methods that you should avoid while handling the problem. Do NOT take these steps to handle loud upstairs neighbors under any circumstances:

  • Don’t call the police or 911 (call the non-emergency number 311 instead)
  • Don’t use passive-aggressive language 
  • Don’t scream or yell at your noisy neighbor 
  • Don’t leave mean or snarky notes 
  • Don’t retaliate by making your own noise to annoy your loud neighbor 
  • Don't do nothing and endure noise that makes you uncomfortable

Move, as a Last Resort

When noise issues push you over the edge and you can't take it anymore, it might be time to consider relocating to a place where you feel more comfortable. This is an unfortunate situation to think about but one that might become necessary and beneficial for your physical and mental health.

If you’re done trying to figure out how to deal with noisy upstairs neighbors, speak with your landlord about the situation and inquire about the possibility of breaking your lease without paying extra penalties or fees. While you are in the process of moving your belongings, consider renting a storage unit from Stop & Stor during the transition. We are a family-owned and operated business that can give you peace of mind during this challenging time and work with you on a flexible month-by-month basis as you find a quiet place to live.

We offer no rent increases for your first full year when storing items with us and have conveniently located storage units to serve customers throughout New York City. If moving is the best option to escape loud upstairs neighbors, contact us to learn about our storage solutions to make your life easier and quieter in an affordable way. 

Established in 1980, Stop & Stor is a family owned and operated business that has become New York’s Self Storage Leader by offering cutting-edge facilities in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.


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