Apartment dwellers are often amazed to find out how much sound carries through walls, floors, and ceilings. Even tenants who mean well and want to be good neighbors can get the occasional noise complaint. If you’ve heard noise complaints from your neighbors, landlord, or even the police—or if you want to take steps to make sure you never do—here are some tips to help you keep the peace, while still living your life:

Before you move in

While you’re in the market for your Houston apartment, look over our previous post on choosing an apartment that will be quiet for you. Some of those tips will also help you make sure the sounds of your everyday life won’t carry into your neighbors’ spaces. Specifically, take a close look at the construction of any apartment you’re considering. Look for:

  • Well-fitted doors and windows. A lot of sound can leak through gaps in these.
  • Insulation. You may not be able to see whether the walls, ceilings, and floors are insulated, but you can ask the manager or landlord.
  • Poured concrete walls, floors, and ceilings. These are found only in luxury apartments and high rise buildings, but if you keep unusual hours or enjoy relatively noisy activities—like entertaining, playing a musical instrument, living with children or pets, or using a high-end home theater—choosing a high rise or luxury apartment may be worthwhile for you.
  • A quiet building. Schedule showings for evenings or weekends, when your potential neighbors are likely to be home. Can you hear other people from the apartment you’re considering? If so, chances are good that they can hear you, too.
  • Noise rules you can live with. Read the lease carefully before you sign, and don’t be afraid to ask the landlord or manager what the community’s noise pollution rules are. You don’t have to tell them that you plan to be the noisy one. Good managers know that renters who are interested in the rules are likely to be good neighbors.

If a complaint is lodged about you

Whether you’re hearing about the noise complaint from your neighbor, your landlord or manager, or even the police, these steps can help you handle the situation as fairly as possible (for you and for your noise sensitive neighbor):