Edited questions from Apartment Life, Sara Gebhardt's online discussion about rental issues.
QWASHINGTON: I have lived in the same apartment for almost two years. In August, the apartment next to me was turned over and new people moved in. About two weeks ago, the new people started playing music either very loudly or they had the bass turned up. On three occasions, I knocked on their door to ask them to turn it down. Two times, they never came to the door, but just turned the music down. Once, a woman opened the door a crack, and when I asked her to turn it down because it was thumping into my apartment, she just nodded a little and shut the door. I'm friendly with someone who works in our rental office and brought the noise issue up when we were chatting. She said nothing could be done unless I wrote a complaint letter. So I did. The next day the neighbors had a letter from the office on their door. Was this the right way to handle it? I was really hoping to talk to the neighbors on one of the three occasions I went over there. I was also going to invite to my place to hear the noise for themselves. But since they either never opened the door or never spoke, I didn't see any other way to handle it.
AYou're right. In an ideal situation, tenants should attempt to work problems out on their own before going to management for help. Still, I think you handled this the best way possible. You attempted to talk to your neighbors, to no avail. Maybe you could have dropped a letter at your neighbors' door before taking your complaint to management, but they may not have been responsive to this either.
WASHINGTON: I agree 100 percent with the person who wondered about noisy neighbors. (I wonder if they live in my building?) I have knocked on two different neighbors' doors on two occasions each about their music and generally had a good reception (and a quieter living room). If I were bothering my neighbors, I would have no way of knowing until they told me. After that is when it's time to get management involved.
For the people with loud neighbors.
WASHINGTON: Thanks for the answer on my noisy neighbor situation. My wife is convinced we acted too swiftly and will never be in the neighbors' good graces. Our plan is to next make contact when we plan to have people over. With the old neighbors, we let them know we were having parties and invited them to come over and join us. We also told them to call and let us know if the noise was too loud. I hope this will help them understand that we really are friendly, but can't make friends with a closed door.
I think your intuition is correct. You are trying hard to be friendly. Most people in your situation would have given up on trying to talk to the neighbor. Good for you for continuing to try to make contact.
Sara Gebhardt's Apartment Life column appears biweekly in this section, and her Web chat appears monthly on www.washingtonpost.com. The next chat is scheduled for 2 p.m. Nov. 11.