Noisy and inconsiderate neighbors can be the bane of your life. How do you cope with them?
Everybody needs good neighbors, but bad ones can be a plague, especially in a crowded city like Hong Kong where we all live so closely packed together.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty, we need to remind everyone that violence is not an option!
Tempting as it may be to unleash your inner Chow Yun-Fat on the annoying family upstairs, it will only put you in the wrong and make things far, far worse.
Noise is the major bugbear for Hong Kong residents; noise from building works, pets, children, high heels and music can ruin your sleep or your weekend. Few things are as debilitating as lack of sleep due to persistent noise.
Some noise, such as that coming from construction or renovation, is unavoidable.
Hong Kong has noise abatement rules, which mainly come into play when noise, say, from drilling takes place outside of prescribed hours. Barking dogs are harder to regulate.
Another common annoyance is neighbors who clutter up the area outside their apartment. Sometimes they leave an untidy pile of shoes outside their door; sometimes kitchen appliances and boxes gradually colonize your space.
In case of intolerable noise or mess, the first step is to talk to the offending neighbor. “Talk to”, not “confront”.
Do not visit your neighbor when you are angry or upset. Go the next day; explain the situation calmly and politely; it’s highly possible they just don’t realize they’re causing a problem.
Be polite, but be firm; don’t let your neighbors bully you.
Make it clear that you are prepared to contact (in order of seriousness) the building management, the Environmental Protection Department, the police.
If you need to contact the authorities, remember that you will have to regularly contact the EPD or police in order to pressure them into taking action.
Find strength in numbers; if your neighbors are annoying you, chances are they are trying the patience of other people.
However, do not retaliate. It might be tempting to squirt glue in their door locks, or throw rotting fish on their balconies, or leave the Beastie Boys on full volume with the speaker near the ceiling when you go on a two-week holiday.
But this will only end in tears. And possibly prison…
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