Know Your Rights
Believe it or not, there are municipal laws about when you’re allowed to renovate. Shanghai’s Law on the Prevention of Noise Pollution states that noisy renovations are not allowed between 6pm and 8am and on all public holidays. Your building or complex may even have stricter rules in place, so mosey down and check with your guard. Those caught violating this law after receiving a warning from the police can be fined RMB200-500.
Communication is Key
Try talking to your neighbors before you call the cops. Lecturing about the law, deploying passive aggressive tactics or making threats may be tempting when you’re angry and sleep-deprived, but we suggest trying to be nice first. Someone we know explained his late working hours and asked if his neighbors wouldn’t mind waiting a little later to start hammering. They were more than happy to comply. It’s unrealistic to expect your neighbors to magically know your living habits and schedule.
Make it Rain Fire
On the other end of the spectrum are rude people that refuse to be considerate. That’s when you can report them. You can call 110 for the police or 962288 for the Shanghai Service & Information hotline—it’s a 24-hour expat-friendly free service that will be able to provide you with advice on how to proceed. You can also ring up the nation-wide Noise Complain hotline at 12369.
Or Suck it Up
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to tell where the noise is coming from. We’ve heard of an expat who searched her whole building, police in tow, but were unable to locate the source of the noise. The cops can’t do anything if they can’t find anything. Short of moving, we suggest buying some earplugs or investing in a pair of noise-canceling headphones. Grit your teeth, suck it up, and know that it’ll end some day.