Updated: Mar 15
If you are on social media of any kind, it’s likely someone you know has complained about their neighbors having a party. Before COVID-19, common complaints generally had to do with noise and traffic.
However, the pandemic changed all of that as people have been urged not to gather in large numbers to avoid contracting or spreading the virus.
If your neighbors have a party, this may present a Covid conundrum, and you will have to decide how to confront them and whether reporting them will do more harm than good.
Many people have followed recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, (CDC) which state: “The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the individual’s potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and then spreading COVID-19 to others.“ You can find the CDC’s “Events and Gatherings: Readiness and Planning Tool here.
However, with COVID-19 restrictions being loosened or lifted in some states, many people are feeling more comfortable about having large gatherings. Recently, Texas and Mississippi have lifted mask mandates, while other states such as Michigan and Louisiana have lifted limits on how many people can gather in one place.
Regardless, there are many who are still not feeling comfortable about leaving their family “pod” and the CDC continues to urge against lifting restrictions.
Before deciding what action to take should your neighbors have a large gathering, it’s best to check to see what your city, county or state says about large gatherings. This is a great resource of information. At the start of the pandemic, many municipalities instituted their own guidelines. However, they change frequently, so make sure you know the most up-to-date rules and regulations.
If the party is loud and disturbing the peace, you are more likely to get the police to come out than if you just complain that there’s a large gathering and that you are concerned about COVID. Too often, police have far more pressing matters to deal with, and unless a law is being broken, there’s not much they can do.
Where you live – an apartment, condo, single-family home – can help you to determine what steps to take if your neighbors are having a huge party during the pandemic, says Stevan Pardo, a real estate attorney with Pardo Jackson Gainsburg in Miami.
"If you’re living in an apartment, condo or other multi-family dwelling, you may opt to complain to the management company or landlord if the party is being held in a common area. Large gatherings may be considered an act of endangerment," says Pardo.
Whether you can complain at the time the party is taking place or after the fact will depend on if the management company or landlord is reachable at that time.
The Community Associations Institute notes that the CDC has specific guidelines for shared living buildings.
If you live in a single-family home with a homeowner’s association, you can contact them. However, unless the neighbor is violating HOA rules there’s little it can do.
Before making any decision, it’s best that you calm down and think about the consequences of your actions. Decide whether your health and welfare are at risk due to their behavior. Calling 911 should be a last-ditch effort and only done if the revelers are breaking the law. While you don’t have to provide the dispatcher with your name, there is something called Automatic Number Identification and Automatic Location Identification that allows police to know who called and from where. Whether they share that information with your neighbors is up to the officer.
Having a civil discussion with your neighbor after the fact may be the best way to go. Afterall, sometimes you do catch more flies with honey.