Laura Bliss is CityLab’s West Coast bureau chief. She also writes MapLab, a biweekly newsletter about maps (subscribe here). Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, Los Angeles magazine, and beyond.
A British woman just learned the hard way: Your neighbors don’t share your happiness.
Today in cringe-worthy headlines: The Guardian reports that a Birmingham woman will spend two weeks in jail, having violated her court order to stop making sex sounds loud enough to disturb her neighbors.
A civil court judge concluded that, in addition to screaming and shouting during a early-morning lovemaking session in January, Gemma Wale (are names destiny, after all?) had “breached the order by arguing with her boyfriend, swearing at a neighbour, ‘banging around the house’ and ‘running around in the property’,” according to The Guardian.
Though it wasn’t just the sex ruckus that did her in, Wale’s isn’t the first tale of legal retaliation against noisy coitus to come out of England. In the U.S., it’s also possible to do jail time for disturbing the peace, if your neighbors are bothered enough. Of course, if you’re the resident doing the listening, pursuing a court order against the cacophony next door should be a last resort. As CityLab wrote in 2013, there are a range of approaches to solving this awkward situation, from slipping a recording of your neighbors’ moans and screeches under their door, to moving to St. Petersburg, Russia, which once considered a ban on boisterous banging.
There’s also our handy guide to dealing with noisy neighbors of all stripes. After all, we’ve all had our sanity threatened by the people upstairs, whether its their libido, indecisiveness around furniture arrangement, or penchant for floor-Jenga that bothers us most. And equally important as choosing a top-floor apartment and buying earplugs, is being a decent neighbor yourself. CityLab wrote:
… there is just no reason to walk around your abode wearing heels/boots/tap shoes. Those shoes are designed to be loud. Be a considerate human being, and make them the last thing you put on before you walk out the door.
And you simply must have uber-clamorous sex on the regular, consider soundproofing your boudoir. It could keep you out of the clink.