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Dealing with noisy neighbors: Call police or wait it out?

Is your neighbor driving you nuts?
(Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

Once an apartment dweller walks to the entrance of her residence, the idea is she's supposed to be completely comfortable inside. This is where she sleeps, gets dressed, eats and invites all of her family and friends. It's a good idea to get along with the neighbors, especially in apartments and condos, because you see these people everyday. And people who can't get along with their neighbors tend to have a higher stroke of bad luck, constantly seeing them in the parking lot, in the mail room, in the lobby, on the stairwell or even just walking in the door.

But there are some neighbors who are determined to be a thorn in your side. Noisy neighbors or smokers are almost always the most common. Loud televisions. Loud music. Loud talking. Porno sex noises. Contact high from the marijuana in their apartments. They smoke so much you swear you'll get lung cancer, too. Cell phone conversations so clear you can write down their credit card numbers from outside the door. Their side gig seems to be the town crier, and you're fed up with it. So what do you do?

A 311 Chicago dispatcher says she gets calls all of the time about noisy neighbors.

"I get one guy who calls everyday. Private property or not, if you have a neighbor who is disturbing the peace, you can call the police."

But before you run to tell 311 to transfer to a 911 dispatcher, consider your options.

1. Talk to your neighbor first. Before you make an enemy out of a neighbor who may be unaware she's loud, tell her just that but keep it in a respectful manner. Explain that you can hear activity in her apartment from your own. Your neighbor has as much right to do what she wants in her apartment as you do with yours, but you two should not be in each other's apartments without ever stepping foot inside. Be careful with your words. If you get a little too worked up and start cursing or screaming, your neighbor can just as easily accuse you of threats as you can accuse her of disturbing you. It's strongly advised that you don't approach your neighbor until you're calm.

2. Re-read your leasing agreement. Try to talk to your rental company. The wording in a Chicago leasing agreement for a rental company called Urban Equities states: "Please respect your neighbors. TV, musical instruments, stereos, etc. shall be operated in a manner as not to disturb others. Any complaints will be addressed in accordance with your lease and any applicable laws (ex. Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance)."

If your neighbor has that "you're not the boss of me" attitude, the company they pay rent to does have more authority than you. Keep a copy of all complaints to your real estate company but wait to see if they can fix it first.

3. Consider your options. If there is anyway you can avoid further conflict for one-time events, consider the alternatives. Can you hear your neighbors having sex through the vents? Try closing the door of the room you can hear them in. Do you always hear your neighbors having loud conversations on the balcony? Try closing your own balcony door (unless you really need it to be open). Is your neighbor having a birthday party with screaming guests and loud music? Text or call your own friends. Birthdays are once a year. You can handle one night of noise or go outside and make your own noise in a public place. Are your neighbors arguing like cats and dogs? You might want to sit this one argument out unless you want them both to turn on you. If they're regularly fighting (or there's physical abuse involved), that's another story. If the issues are happening repetitiously, you shouldn't have to tiptoe around your own place. However, unless you've never had a slip-up, keep in mind your neighbors are human beings, too. (Yes, even if you hate them.)

4. No more Mrs. Nice Girl. Try not to be that neighbor who complains over petty disputes or revenge tactics. You've given your real estate company a few days to handle the issue. Your neighbor is still ignoring your requests. Or, your neighbor has taken it one step further and challenged you to call the police. Call her bluff. In Chicago, there's a $700 fine for loud music in a car. Imagine the damage for loud music indoors. The police already have better things to do than to go to individual apartment units so by the time they reach your address, chances are they'll be none too pleased to deal with an indignant neighbor. But keep in mind once you've gone as far as reporting the noise to the police, both you and your neighbor(s) have set the foundation for a serious dispute or an immediate peace offering.

Follow Shamontiel on Pinterest for all her latest Chicago dating, sex, marriage and work relationship entries, or subscribe to her Chicago Relationships channel at the top of this page. Also, follow her "Let's Talk About Sex...Health" Pinterest board.

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