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Approaches that could resolve problems with noisy neighbors

Many people in California live in densely populated urban and suburban areas. Everyone expects some noise, but excessive disturbances that impact a person's quality of life could create tension between neighbors. When late-night parties or barking dogs irritate a person, a friendly or at least civil conversation with the noisy neighbor should be the first step.

Ideally, the complaint should be framed in a way that acknowledges that the person might simply not have realized how disturbing the noise was. The conversation gives someone a chance to reform behavior and reduce noise. Unfortunately, these informal complaints do not always resolve the situation. A noisy neighbor might react with hostility and continue to make noise. When a neighbor ignores a request to quiet down, then written complaints are appropriate.

The letter should state the nature of the noise and include documentation about city ordinances that specify acceptable times for parties and other noise. The rules for a homeowners' association or apartment community could also apply. The letter needs to include the dates and times that disturbances happened and indicate that authorities will be notified the next time inappropriate noise occurs. If someone feels threatened by a neighbor or wild parties are taking place, then the person should call police.

A neighbor dispute might make someone feel unsafe at home and therefore motivate legal action. An attorney could identify local laws that could apply to the situation and prepare a written complaint that asks the person to halt troublesome activities. This letter might outline penalties for violating noise ordinances or property rights. In threatening cases, an attorney might recommend involving law enforcement or seeking a restraining order. If filing a lawsuit becomes necessary, then an attorney could prepare legal paperwork and communicate the details of the case in court.

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