Q: I’m not sure what to do about my neighbors. They listen to music all hours of the night, and I can hear every movie they choose to watch. Can I take legal action for this issue?
A: The short answer is yes. Many states have laws in place for noise violations, and many communities have their own standards set as well. If a neighbor continually violates the regulations set in place, then you are entitled to a case. However, filing a lawsuit should be used as a last resort. In many cases, a polite conversation with your neighbor can clear things up. According to the American Bar Association, here are steps to consider when addressing noise issues:
STEP 1: Discuss the problem with the neighbor, who may not be aware that the late-night parties or excessive noise bothers you.
STEP 2: Warn the neighbor. Obtain a copy of the applicable local ordinance (look in the municipal code which should be found in your local library or contact your local council representative). Mail a copy of the ordinance with with a letter of warning alerting your neighbor of the violation. Wait a reasonable amount time to see if the noise problem is resolved.
STEP 3: Suggest mediation. Try to work out the problem with an impartial, third-person mediator to resolve the dispute informally.
STEP 4: Contact the authorities. If all else fails, call the police and/or file a civil lawsuit against the neighbor.
If your neighbor continues to violate noise regulations even after you’ve filed a lawsuit, you may be able to continue legal action. According to the American Bar Association:
“Most small-claims courts can award money only. If you want removal of [the] noise, you will generally have to file in regular court. But remember, if you are suing for a nuisance or a noise problem, you can sue more than once. As long as the neighbor does not correct the problem, you can sue again and again in small claims court, receiving monetary compensation, until the problem is taken care of.”