Friday, May 7, 2010

Inconsiderate Neighbors

Dear Jocelyn,

I have neighbor issues. The people behind us routinely allow their children ranging in age from pre-school to middle school run around unsupervised starting at 8 am. Not only do these kids yell and scream, but they run through our yard, bang on our windows, and beat a wiffle ball bat against their porch. The parents also feel that 8 am on Sunday morning is the appropriate time to use loud electric hedge-trimmers to trim their hedge and perform other noise-producing outdoor tasks. Aside from getting revenge by disturbing the peace ourselves at midnight or attempting to train the children and adults by spraying them with hoses and squirt guns, how can this situation be handled?
     - A House of Sleep Deprived Graduate Students

Dear House,
Your letter illustrates the saying "Good fences make good neighbors." This seems like a very common problem between early birds and night owls. It is commonly accepted that it is impolite to call people outside the hours of 9am-9pm. It makes sense that this rule should extend to noisy children and yard work, as well. While I do not know your desired waking time, if it is past 9am you cannot expect your neighbors to tiptoe around so you can sleep late. However, 8am, while well past the time most people with children are up, is an inconsiderate time to make excessive noise.

For a first step, try visiting your neighbors with a big batch of cookies. Explain politely to them that you all think their children are lovely, but they often wake you by running through your yard, banging on your windows, etc. Ask them to please make sure their children stay off your property. If they continue to trespass after repeated warnings, call your local police (make sure it is the non-emergency number) and ask if you have any recourse for this situation. They might even be violating a local noise ordinance, although I cannot imagine 8am would be considered “night” under the law.

As for the yardwork, you may ask them politely to wait another hour until weed-wacking, but this is less likely to yield any results. Try to find a good set of earplugs and perhaps get to sleep earlier.
     -Jocelyn

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