This publication explains the ways to file a noise complaint anonymously. It’s late at night and you need to rest to be at work in the morning but your neighbor’s thumping stereo next door won’t let you. Unfortunately, you can’t physically fight them to cease the nuisance without getting in trouble.
Perhaps, you’ve not previously approached them to stop the noise, and they won’t stop. It’s time to move anonymously to get your neighbor to comply without knowing it’s you.
How to file a noise complaint anonymously
Consider the following methods to get someone to shut up by filing a noise complaint anonymously:
1. Online, phone call, or via mail
There are three ways you can report noise complaints while staying anonymous, including:
- an online complaint submission;
- a call to your neighborhood’s complaint coordinator; and
- file a paper complaint submission form via the compliance page for your local community. If you’re filing a noise to be sent by mail, just print the complaint form from the webpage, print, fill out, and mail it to the address provided on the webpage.
When filing the noise complaint, reiterate the need for you to be anonymous.
2. Contact the police
Calling the police should be your first course of action. Some neighbors will stop the noise when an officer arrives at the door to investigate a noise complaint. Make sure to ask to stay anonymous after the report.
Most places have noise restrictions, and if the cops show up frequently, they may have to penalize or charge the noisy neighbor with a misdemeanor. You should call the police immediately if the disturbing noises are frightening, such as shouting, gunshots or fireworks, the sounds of objects being thrown or breaking, or any other sounds that might lead you to believe it’s domestic violence in place. This will allow the police to investigate, making sure no one gets hurt.
Calling the police after confronting the neighbor about the noise is the next action you should take for the non-threatening noise complaint. Otherwise, you risk making a fierce enemy out of someone who lives next door. You’re not mandated to speak with your neighbor before calling the police if they are threatening or intimidating in any way, except it’s only necessary if you choose to be polite.
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If the person is just being annoying, calling the cops may escalate the conflict from being merely impolite to being violently hostile. Keep an eye out for damage to your home or personal property after filing a noise complaint. It might also be a good idea to set up a surveillance camera to protect your property from reprisal damage and record the noise for use as proof.
3. File a nuisance suit
You can take matters into your own hands if the police are unwilling to take action over the noise—if you reside in a region without noise ordinances (such as a rural or industrial area), or if you believe the police are not doing enough. A lawsuit can be brought against a noisy neighbor under the theory of nuisance.
You must show the court the following to prove your claim:
- excessive and upsetting noise coming from your neighbor’s property;
- the neighbor is making the noise, or the neighbor is the landlord (and is therefore responsible for the noise his/her tenants make);
- the peace of your home is being threatened; and
- you have asked the person to stop the noise but they have failed to or have refused to comply.
Demonstrate how the loudness of the noise hurts you. The damage will typically be little, which may allow you to continue your complaint in small claims court.
However, you might also be able to file a lawsuit for larger losses, such as evicted tenants or property sales as a result of the noise. If your disagreement arises in a professional context or if you operate remotely, you could also be eligible to recover damages for lost revenue.
How do you remain anonymous?
It’s simple—you are not required to submit personal information, including your name or phone number while making a noise complaint. Personal information is however important for your local agency to get in touch with you for more details and keep you informed of how the complaint inquiry is going.
Data you provide may end up in a public record and be governed by public records regulations. That said, filing an online form is the easiest way to make a complaint without revealing your identity. Anonymity is usually allowed for those who phone to request information about an investigation.
Information to provide when filing a noise complaint
When you file a complaint or notify your local agency of noise, the following details will be useful:
- Names of alleged violators
- An explanation of the event you saw in detail. For instance, indicate if it was loud music or something else.
- Your location (such as a physical address, driving directions, or the name of a location, like a stream or a creek, the suspected violation takes place)
You may also add your name and contact information if you decide against filing anonymously.
Tips for handling a noise disturbance
a. Contact the noise maker
Try reaching out to the person causing the noise. Some neighbors make a noise complaint before informing the noise-making party. However, informing the noise maker may be enough to stop the noise. And in many cases, you’ll be asked if you already talked to the noisy neighbor.
b. Inform your property neighbors
You could always inform the property manager or tenant/homeowners association and still ask to stay anonymous. If you live in an apartment or condo complex, or your community has deed restrictions, make sure to contact your local tenant association, building owner, super or homeowners association to make a noise complaint—it could be short-term rentals like a neighbor’s Airbnb noise or a long-term rental. Your community may have rules about noise applicable to residents.
c. Be reasonable
Some types of noise might be allowed at some times, but not others—Nolo. Thus, you need to be reasonable and develop a certain level of tolerance for expected noise, especially if you live in a dense and diverse city zoned residential and commercial. In this case, your local noise compliance division can only intervene when the noise breaks an ordinance.
Finally, be patient after filing a noise complaint. Your local noise compliance division receives lots of noise complaints a year and responses are typically prioritized during busy times.