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How To: Deal with Noisy Next Door Neighbors

What to do when your neighbors insist on weekend construction work?

This article has been updated on April 13, 2017.


It’s 6am on a Saturday and you’re enjoying a well-earned lie-in when suddenly, the drilling starts. Or maybe it’s 9pm and you’ve just settled down for the night when your neighbor decides now is the time to spend a few hours hammering. If you live anywhere other than an ambassadorial mansion, it can be difficult to escape the sound of renovations, but there are some things you can do.


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.


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siennapc's picture


As the writer of this article, I actually just took my own advice and nicely asked the neighbors to stop drilling on Saturday morning, and it worked! They were really nice and pretty excited that some blonde girl was talking to them in Chinese about renovations, and they stopped drilling. Hooray! Usually I can't find the renovators, though, so it's lucky I can tell where today's drilling was coming from.


Most apartment management companies also have rules about decorating on the weekend. It's supposedly not allowed in someone like 80% of the newer downtown areas. If you're going to approach these people, start polite. Like me. I'm well known for my politeness and making conciliatory gestures towards those who offend me or disturb my rest. Any suggestions that I have marched upstairs in my body armour and grabbing the guy by the throat as soon as he opens the door to tell him to STFU or the drill goes up his ass are purely rumours with no video or audio evidence to back them up.
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