Three years ago, The Bloke and I were renting a really nice terraced house. It was smaller than the one we’re in now, but it was cosy, with neutral decor and a nice landlord. Unfortunately, the walls were so thin that it was possible to hear someone sneeze next door. The first neighbour we had was a nasty woman, who spent her time screaming at her toddler, who cried all the time. After one particularly bad afternoon during the summer holidays, when I had spent the majority of the day listening to her constant yelling, I screamed at her to shut up through the wall. The shouting stopped immediately, and within the next week she moved out without telling the landlord – she just packed up and left. I don’t think my yelling at her would have been enough to cause that reaction, but I was torn by worry for the child and relief that I didn’t have to hear her voice any more. That was the first time I had ever experienced anything like that – I’d always been lucky to have nice neighbours and while there was occasionally some noise it certainly never bothered me before.
The next neighbour was no better – screaming child and freaked out mum who didn’t yell like the previous one, but was clearly frustrated. I got on with her quite well – she was a nice woman and she was staying there temporarily while her mortgage was approved so she could buy her own house – but it was quite stressful all the same. She moved out within a few months, and once again, it was bliss… for a few weeks at least.
And then, THEY moved in – a small family comprising of two parents and a toddler. It started immediately – screaming, kicking footballs against the joining wall between our two properties for hours, parties, music, more screaming. They would keep the child up until gone 11.00pm so the father could have a lie in the next day while the mother went to work. It went on, and on, and on for weeks, and we both started to get really anxious. I had no idea how to handle it, so I decided to knock on the door and ask them politely to quiet it down as it was really beginning to bother us. They were really friendly about it, closed the door, and carried on exactly as they had before. It quickly got worse over time, to the point where we both started to develop anxiety about coming home. It became so loud that we could hear it from every room in the house and when we turned our TV up full blast.
We took the next step and made a complaint to the council. It made no difference. We started making a note of the time the noise got excessive (which was pretty much all the time) and sent the details to the council again. We contacted their landlord. Nothing. In the end, I lost my temper and started shouting through the wall late at night (we’re talking 12.30am onwards here on a weekday and later at the weekends) – I couldn’t think of anything else to do. By this point, The Bloke in particular was having enormous panic attacks most evenings – there was never a point where we could truly relax. Our landlord, however sympathetic he was, was useless.
They eventually moved out after about 18 months, but the prolonged and traumatic experience had left us with huge issues with noise. The slightest thing would set us off, and when the new neighbour moved in and immediately had parties and screaming rows with her boyfriend we knew we had to move. We couldn’t afford it, but we also couldn’t live like that anymore and as we were renting it was much easier to move than if we had owned the house and had to sell it.
Three years later, we’re in a warm and comfortable rented terraced house and we’ve been lucky to have absolutely brilliant neighbours on both sides that we have got along with really well. No issues at all – we’ve even been to the pub and looked after the neighbours house on one side of us. The walls are super thin but we haven’t really heard anything to set off the anxiety over the years here, so we’ve calmed down.
That is, until the lovely neighbours on the other side bought a house and moved out last week, and were promptly replaced by two young men. For the first two days, they clearly had a housewarming party and blasted music. Then, the singing at 11.00pm at night started. And now, I’ve been sitting in my front room for the last few hours listening to a very loud series of songs, accompanied by loud singing that is so clear that they may as well be in my house and it is almost 11.00pm. There’s no point me going upstairs to my bedroom, or the spare room, or the dining room, because you can hear it there too. I’ve heard a rousing rendition of Hotel California, and lots of Irish folk music, none of which I asked for at this time of night.
And my chest is so tight and anxious I can barely breathe. Every awful memory that I have from the old house has come flooding back, and the panic is beginning to set in. I’ve already had a chat with one of the lads when they were moving in and explained that The Bloke has to get up really early for work and to be aware that the walls are really thin, (I phrased it in a ‘if we’re making too much noise, let us know’ way) and he was lovely about it, but he clearly doesn’t get it and I can’t go through that again. I’ve been in a state of anxiety for almost a week and I’m absolutely dreading the weekend in case they start again. I just want them to shut up.
I also don’t want another war – what should I do?