What are your rights when it comes to noise in your neighborhood? Believe it or not, your noisy neighbors have more actual rights than you do. State and local courts have placed the burden of proof on the victim and have set the bar so high that in most cases noise problems are rarely, if ever, solved.

Study after conclusive study finds that neighborhood noise is one of the leading causes of stress. Noise pollution has proven negative effects on our health and our sleep patterns and can be responsible for injuries and illnesses.

If this has been so overwhelmingly proven then why are we at a loss to resolve this situation and why is it getting worse?

What to do About:

The solutions are difficult.

Some individuals and businesses feel they have a right or the freedom to use a common resource in any way they see fit. Perhaps these people are mistakenly extending their own private property rights?. Perhaps they do not realize what most of us learned on the school yard years ago: "that my right to swing my fist ends at your nose." Or, perhaps they do not recognize the soundness of the parallel claim "that your right to create noise ends at my ear." In any case, these people are acting as bullies, claiming rights and freedoms that are not theirs while degrading resources that are ours.

People simply do not believe they are the cause of a problem. You'll hear folks say "it's not so bad..." when it is so bad. If you take all the "not so bad's" in your life and add them up they turn into one heck of a pretty BIG BAD. Police and other authorities understand how difficult it can be for a homeowner to admit that their lifestyle or habits are annoying to the neighborhood. But here's a good test:

      • Walk to your property line then turn back to your house and take 10 steps forward. If you can still hear the noise from your home - even if you think Pink Floyd is the greatest band of all time or that your puppy is simply squealing for joy, you're making too much noise. It's a lot like Trespassing. If you're not on your property you're trespassing. If you can hear your noise, your radio, your dog, your stereo, your hobby machine shop or even your telephone answering machine, you're trespassing on someone else's privacy.

Here's a pretty common scenario: you come home from work, put the dog out, put the TV on and get on the phone. Your kids come home and the dog barks wanting to come in or simply because he wants to be part of the attention. Meanwhile, your children are running around playing, watching the TV, wrestling with each other and generally making "normal" noise. So, you up the ante - turn up the radio so you can hear it better, talk louder on the phone and your kids, not to be outdone, do the same. To you, these are all the common normal noises of your home life. But to others, those outside who can hear all this.... Ah, there's the key - "those outside who can hear all this".

Good neighbors keep their noise to themselves.

Simply because your neighbors do not complain to you directly does not mean they're not negatively affected. It simply means they may be afraid and are living a life of hell - thanks to you. Maybe they've tried talking to you with no positive result or maybe they have the mistaken notion that this is the way it has to be. It does not. There is a right to enjoyment of one's property without avoidable degradation.

Treat others gently and quietly and the world, starting with your neighborhood, will be a better place. Wait for your kids to come home, put the dog outside and take the noise test once a month, just to be sure you're being a good neighbor. If you can hear it - you're too loud.

Problems still persist.

We all have the recalcitrant neighbor(s), the one who simply does not get it. The person who lives his life in such an insular manner he never thinks about the effects of his life on others or worse, due to deeply rooted insecurity he will "yell out" with everything he has in order to feel "fulfilled". His noise is his security because it wraps him in a comfortable and predictable environment. But it's hell on others. What to do?

There are many responses but here's what does not work:

      • Firebombs
        • Why? The Fire Department will come and only generate more noise. Then, when they're done the construction crew will come to repair the damage - and they start at 7 AM and can legally work, banging, drilling and cutting stone until 10PM, 6 nights a week for a month. This is to be avoided at all costs.
      • Threats
        • Why? Threats only make the insecure more insecure and with that an increase in the amount of noise they will generate in order to feel safe and fulfilled.
      • Louder Noises in Retaliation
        • Why? Because you'll run into the neighbor with the Rocket Powered Chipper Shredder" that he will place on your property line and run during dinner time - while he and his wife go away to eat. And, it's perfectly legal for him to do this.
      • Shooting the Noisy Neighbor
        • Why? State Prison is not a quiet place and Bruno likes attention at odd hours of the night. You'll never get any sleep.
      • Taking an Ax to the Power Line
        • Why? He's likely got a generator he got for Y2K and will put that on the property line and run it during dinner just to piss you off. (Also, see the part about prison.)

So, what can you do? In this section of the Kent Forum we'll try to help you solve the problem.

Some Articles about Noise and its affect on the Human Beings




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Wednesday, January 5, 2005