Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Raving mad over my neighbor's techno-music

By Jamie Lauren Sutton  | July 28, 2010 - 6:27AM

Dear Ms. Demeanor,

My building has very thin walls, and I am forgiving of basic neighborly sounds, but I hear my neighbor's TV and music morning, noon, and through the night, with brief interludes of quiet.

I've tried knocking on her door but she doesn't answer (and when I have seen her in the hallways she's generally sour-faced and never looks at me).

Do I pass a note under her door? Try talking to our landlord? She seems possibly unstable (who watches TV or listens to techno at 5 am?) and doesn't seem to have a day job (I work from home a lot, which probably adds to the problem).

Advice? I don't want her to retaliate with even louder TV/late-night music. And I don't REALLY want to move...

Angry in the East Village

Dear Angry,

I can understand your frustration.  Your situation is disturbing but of more concern is that your disturber may, in fact, be disturbed.   I strongly advise against directly confronting her in person or in writing unless you are certain she is merely odd as opposed to ill.

Assuming you do not think she is a geniune threat, a note is a reasonable and very neighborly first step. 

A kind but firmly worded note should be informative ("I can hear your music and TV in my apartment"), respectful, and not contain any trace of threat, passive-aggressivenes, or even humor (as each can easily be mistaken for the other two).

Keep in mind, however, that if she doesn't answer a knock on the door, a note will likely not be effective.  

All is not lost though: The best part about living in the vertical village is the strength in numbers. 

Chances are that if you are bothered by her techno music, others are as well. So if nothing has changed a week after your note, alert the landlord to the problem and, if possible, speak with surrounding neighbors who may be experiencing similar disruption.   

A unified protest made through the landlord or management company may, ultimately, be metaphorically loud enough to lower her volume. 

Noise complaints may also be lodged through the city by calling 3-1-1.  You might also consider free mediation

If all else fails, put the Bose noise-cancelling headphones at the top of your Christmas list.

Wishing you sweet, techo-free dreams,

Ms. Demeanor


Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to [email protected].

See all Ms. Demeanor's advice here.

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