Dealing with apartment neighbors comes standard with apartment living, but a rude neighbor can make a living situation unbearable. Maybe there’s a guy who causes parking problems by somehow needing three parking spots. Or the woman who never cleans up after her dog. Or maybe you spent the first three months in your new apartment thinking your downstairs neighbor was partially deaf, because how could someone be that incredibly loud and that incredibly bad at the piano? Did he see you park over the line accidentally that ONE time? Is he doing this on purpose?
Sometimes a quick word with a rude neighbor can do the trick, but is everyone going to consider you the next time they feel like blasting some Britney song at 2 a.m. on a Monday? Probably not. Here are some things to consider when dealing with a rude neighbor.
When it comes to neighbors, it’s never a bad idea to check in as soon as you move in, before anything disruptive even happens. Knock on their door, introduce yourself, and ask to exchange numbers in case of an emergency or in case your music is over too loud (a kind call is so much nicer than banging on the wall). Invite them to grab a beer with you, if you’re feeling extra friendly. Not everyone is down to get drinks with a total stranger, but hey, maybe you’ll end up finding that 0.01% of people out there as outgoing as you are.
If you are a baker or cook, we’re sure you could be on Top Chef, but don’t give out homemade goods to seem friendly. No one needs to be that extra. They literally don’t know you or what you put in there, and we’ve all seen that one scene from “The Help.” If you really want to give food, get something that’s store bought and sealed.
After your friendly first encounter, let your apartment neighbor know your expectations as far as quiet times, and ask them what theirs are, too. To have good neighbors, it helps to be a good neighbor.
Maybe you are at the point of apartment living where you’ve experienced a rude wakeup call at the hands of seemingly unemployed Jerry from downstairs (seriously, how is he always home? Is he ever going to get better at the piano?). You may be wanting to kill him with something a lot heavier and sharper than kindness, but before we get to that point, make sure to let your neighbor know, in a friendly, firm tone, that you prefer to do your sleeping at night like everyone else. Maybe without the sarcasm, but you get the idea.
It’s a lot more difficult to be rude to someone once they've shown you their friendly side. Know that talking in-person is a lot more effective than leaving a note. Not only that, but notes from strangers can seem passive-aggressive. If you’ve ever lived in a dorm room full of girls, you would know that a “friendly” note is basically a slap in the face. “Hey girl, LOVE your gorgeous long hair, but could you maybe, like, stop clogging the drain with it? :)” Ouch, Karen.
In the future, you’ll also be able to say that you made those first steps in establishing boundaries, in case the courtesy officer or apartment staff has to get involved.
If your attempt to “kill them with kindness” did not, in fact, kill your possibly-deaf neighbor’s urge to practice piano at 2 a.m., then it may be time to get your building’s authorities involved. Talk to your landlord or management company, and let them know the situation. If the issue goes beyond a few noise complaints (i.e., someone trashing the place or violently disturbing the peace) then they may want to get a courtesy officer involved.
Not all apartment complexes have a courtesy officer, but they basically act as a security guard. No, they are not your personal customer support aid. You do not need to contact them every time your neighbor fails to pick up a few of their adorable dog’s droppings (but seriously, why? There are green baggies everywhere). However, if things get out of hand with a neighbor, and you have reason to fear for your safety, first call 911. Then also request help from your courtesy officer to step in and mediate the situation. Again we stress for safety concerns, call 911. Duh.
However, sometimes things go a different route. Dog droppings are placed strategically in front of the stairs. Your neighbor gets a speaker system and exclusively plays “We Didn't Start the Fire” on repeat for two hours (great song). Neighbor wars are not unheard of, but the best outcome from that situation is usually each of you getting tired of retaliation until you both learn to live with each other’s annoying habits. If noise combat is your retaliation of choice, just know that it won’t always end smoothly. Also know that someone made a 10-hour loop of that Crazy Frog song on YouTube. Godspeed.
Alternatively if it’s that bad, it’s time to give your apartment locator a call. Time to move and say buh bye to your neighbor. Life’s too short for that ish.