Last updated: December 2, 2022 at 16:23 pm
Unless you live in the middle of nowhere, the chances are you have neighbours. Most neighbours are nice and try to be considerate, especially when it comes to noise.
However, if you’re unlucky enough to have one of the inconsiderate ones living upstairs, then the noise they make stomping through their flat might drive you mad.
If your peace is being disturbed on a regular basis, what can you do? Here are a few ideas.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- 1 Talk to Your Neighbour
- 2 Work Out a Plan
- 3 Soundproofing
- 4 Complain to Their Landlord
- 5 Make a Complaint to Environmental Health
- 6 Get Revenge
- 7 Get a White Noise Machine
- 8 Buy Noise Cancelling Headphones
- 9 Move
- 10 Conclusion
Talk to Your Neighbour
Ok, this is obvious, but if you’re being driven mad, you may have built your neighbour up in your mind as a selfish, unreasonable monster. But believe it or not, they may not be!
They may be completely unaware that they’re disturbing you and will be absolutely mortified when you tell them. For example, they might have installed a new type of flooring, have new shoes with heels, or have gotten a new roommate who has a heavy tread.
If they’ve been quiet before, it’s possible you’ve inadvertently been bothering them, and the noise is their chosen revenge. The point is, you’ll never know unless you talk to them.
Please do not talk to them when you’re upset; you’re more likely to get into an argument if your temper is already running high. If you feel comfortable, you could consider asking them round for coffee and a chat.
Work Out a Plan
If you’ve spoken with your neighbours and the noise is still a problem, you may need to work out a compromise with your neighbour. Please bear in mind that they may have found life stressful after your chat. They may feel like they need to creep around in their home, affecting their quality of life too.
First, you need to talk about the times and type of noise, so your neighbour can tell you what they were doing at the time. For example, do they play sports games on their consoles for exercise? Pace while on the phone? Start cleaning their home early on Saturday?
Try and work out a schedule that works for you both and be prepared to compromise. Your neighbour deserves to use their flat as they choose so you can’t have it all your own way.
For example, if you like to lie in at weekends, ask them to wait until a little later before they begin cleaning. 10 am is a reasonable hour to request or even 11 am on a Sunday.
If the noise is restricted to a particular room, you could ask whether they’d be prepared to lay a thick carpet or rug if you pay for half.
If your neighbour is unable or unwilling to compromise, you will need to do what you can to make the noise bearable. The best solution is to fit soundproofing, as this should resolve the problem permanently.
The catch is for soundproofing to be effective; you need to seal up all the gaps. You can’t just soundproof the ceiling and leave it at that. If you can’t afford to soundproof your whole flat, there are a couple of options.
Firstly, you can try and just soundproof the ceiling and see if it reduces the noise enough for you to live with. Alternatively, if the noise is worse in a specific room, like your living room or bedroom, you can just soundproof that room.
If you want to minimise the expense, you could attach soundproof blankets to the ceiling. They come in an array of patterns and aren’t very expensive. They’re also quite easy to fit.
If blankets aren’t going to cut it, you could install a layer of mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) with another layer of plasterboard on top. MLV both absorbs and reflects sound waves, and if you pair it with the extra plasterboard, it should substantially reduce the noise you can hear.
If you need to block a lot of noise, you can fit acoustic panels, but as they are designed for recording studios, they are expensive.
Gaps Round the Windows, Doors and Ceiling
Acoustic sealant is a cheap and easy-to-apply method of sealing up any cracks. If you have a lot of gaps and buy a large tube, you’ll also need to buy an applicator gun if you don’t have one.
As well as sealing the gaps, you need to look at the condition of your frames. If they are in good condition, seal gaps or cracks with caulking. If they are old, in poor condition, or single-glazed, consider having new ones fitted.
It will be expensive, but it will dramatically reduce the noise entering your flat and save you money on your heating bill.
Complain to Their Landlord
If the upstairs tenant rents their flat, you can complain about the noise to their landlord or the local authority if that’s who they rent from.
Most tenancy agreements have clauses about the tenant’s expected conduct. A warning from their landlord may be enough to force them to change their behaviour.
Make a Complaint to Environmental Health
The environmental health department deals with all noise complaints. Before they intervene, you’ll need to present them with evidence. Start keeping a diary of the dates and times of the noise. If possible, download a free decibel meter to your phone and note how loud the noise is inside your flat.
You should also list any steps you’ve taken to resolve the problem, such as conversations with your neighbour, letters you’ve sent, attempts to soundproof your flat, etc.
If your complaint is upheld, they will send an official warning to your neighbour. Most people will stop making noise at this point. If they don’t, the council can impose fines and other penalties up to eviction.
This is not a recommended course of action as it may backfire on you, but we’re still going to discuss it. If you’ve tried to be reasonable and come to a compromise, but your neighbour is unwilling to change, it may be time for a little payback.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- If they are night owls, start loudly cleaning your house at 8 am
- Play loud music, or even do karaoke very badly. Bonus points for the weirdness of the music
- Let your kids run around the house and bang their toys as they play. If you don’t have any kids, borrow some!
- Take up a new instrument, violin or the drums are good choices
- If they don’t have a video doorbell, revert to childhood by ringing their bell and running away. Bonus points for disturbing them while their sleeping or watching something they’ve really been looking forward to
- As explained earlier, be careful with this. You don’t want to annoy your other neighbours and end up being a problem yourself
Get a White Noise Machine
White noise machines produce a sound that includes equal amounts of all frequencies. Many people say it’s like an untuned radio noise. It’s good at blocking other types of sound.
If your neighbours are only loud at certain times of day, or you need help falling asleep, a white noise machine may do the trick.
Buy Noise Cancelling Headphones
There are many brands of noise cancelling headphones that radically reduce the noise you can hear. If the stomping disturbs you when you’re reading, put them on to block the noise.
If it’s ruining your enjoyment of music or your favourite tv show, use headphones to listen. It may be more awkward than just turning on the tv, but if your peace is restored it will be worth it.
This may seem excessive, why should you have to leave when you’re not causing a problem? Simple, your peace and enjoyment of your home matter more than winning or being right. If you’ve tried everything and your neighbours are still too noisy, you have two choices.
Firstly, you can involve environmental health and prepare yourself for a long battle. Alternatively, if you’re able to, move to a new flat with more quiet and considerate neighbours.
Make sure you do your research first. Visit the area at different times of the day to check out noise levels and chat with other residents if you can. Make sure you’re not jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Being disturbed by loud noises in your home is stressful. Home is the one place where you should be able to unwind. If you have an inconsiderate neighbour, talk to them before taking any other action or escalating the situation. Most problems can be resolved with a friendly chat.
If a chat does not restore peace, look at ways to minimise the sound, like soundproofing or white noise machines.
If these options don’t work, official complaints to their landlord or the environmental health department may be your own option. Be prepared that this may be a lengthy process, though. If you can’t face it, you could think about moving.
Take your time to consider all the options, and don’t take any action when you’re upset. Eventually, you will have a quiet home once again.