thirty day notice to vacate because of child

czarinax17March 26, 2006

Hello - I'm new here and need some advice! Please bear with me, as this may be a little long.

I moved into my 2nd floor apartment in 2002 with my fiance'. We didn't know it at the time, but the apartment building used to be a "Residence Inn" turned into apartments for rent. We were told when we moved in it was a "quiet community" but quiet it was definitely not. You can hear everything. The walls and floors are thin like a Hotel would be.

Over the course of three months we married and I became pregnant and had my baby in the fall of 2003. We have always been the play the the rules type. Conscious of other's around us, and never had any complaints on us. We aren't the partying types either. My husband works and I stay home with our child. We liked the community because even though it was loud, there were alot of families there. It also had nice gardens. It took me awhile to realize it wasn't really a good place for families to be living. Apartment managers were being changed out every six months or so. It seemed like the one's we would get were in and gone all of the time. I couldn't keep up. One manager we had was always yelling at children playing outside to stay off the complex grass.

In the fall of 2004, our baby begins walking and new tenants move in beneath us. Time passes and she grows, begins to get better with walking and running. Usual play, nothing loud or unabated. Nothing unreasonable. We followed the quiet hours which are 10:00pm to 8:00am and pretty much conditioned our child to do so by getting her in a routine of settling down around 8:30pm each night with lights off by 9:30 pm.

In June of 2005, the tenant comes upstairs to tell us she got a job in which she has to go to bed at 8:00pm and get up early, and said our daughter was too loud above her if she was in the bedroom (above her bedroom). So I told her I wouldn't let our daughter play anymore or run through the bedroom at 8:00pm - on. I didn't mind making this concession for her because I wanted to be respectful, so we made this our own personal house rule and stuck to it for the woman downstairs. She also has two children of her own, one child six years old and another is 8.

Everything moved along fine through the summer, fall, and part of the winter with no other complaints from this tenant. I continued to follow my deal with her, quiet hours, and making sure my child's noise wasn't unabated or unreasonable. Once toddlerhood approaches it's more difficult however and when tantrums are in full force it's really hard to keep little ones silent for the quiet enjoyment of others. I laid down extra rugs everywhere on top of our carpeting to help muffle sound. I knew how loud footsteps were from the people above us!

I didn't allow rolling toys, and only let her have her trike to ride out doors.

The trouble began in mid January 2006. The tenants below had a surround sound type of system and large plasma screen installed into their apartment beneath us. We could see it because when you walk past their apartment on the path to our parking lot, their blinds would be all the way back and one could see the huge set up. To be honest I thought it was cool! Cool, until they began playing it at concert decibles around 11:00pm at night! It would rattle and shake the walls. The floor, vibrated beneath my feet, even over all of those rugs I had laid down. This continued a week. I told my husband to let it go. I figured it was just a new toy and they would get over it and turn it down, but it actually continued to a point of waking up my daughter. I had to wonder why the tenant stopped going to bed at 8:00 as she said she did as well.

After two weeks went by of this, my husband (who works third shift) was off work and ready to get some sleep one night. The tenants had their sound up so loud, my husband said "that's it!" and calmly went to the call box out front to phone them and ask them nicely to please turn it down. When the woman answered, she said he had the wrong apartment and hung up on him. He went back inside and walked down the hall way and it was definitely coming out of her apartment. It could be heard loudly outside and in. We can't believe no one else was bothered by it!

He tried phoning her again to try and be nice about it, but she angrily hung up on him again.

So, we wrote a note to our manager about it, asking her to please turn down her tv late at night.

This is when everything blew up. The manager immediately slapped the tenant below us with a warning. And after that happened, the tenant began phoning complex security on us every time my daughter was playing anywhere from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. She would tell security we were all too loud upstairs so they would come and tell us to be quiet.

One time we went to the store, came home to find security in the hallway waiting for us. He said there was a noise complaint, however we had been gone for 2 hours. This woman just started using security to retaliate against us. And then the manager called us to her office for a meeting to ask us what was happening. We explained that we weren't doing anything differently, and didn't know why suddenly the tenant beneath us was making noise complaints on our daughter. The manager said she would investigate it and get back to us. Days later she told us not to worry about it, that the woman downstairs is just angry because she was warned about her noise level.

It didn't stop there. On Valentines day we all went to dinner and to visit family. We were gone for six hours. The next day, we found a warning slip taped to our door from the manager stating we had an "Unruly Child" and to see her in the office for a meeting.

Apparently when we were gone, the neighbor lady phoned security and made another report saying our daughter was jumping on the floor and was disturbing her peace. But we were gone, making the report another false one. I was VERY angry by now. We had to provide proof of our whereabouts to prove to the manager that we were indeed gone. I had our dinner receipt, a shopping receipt, and had my sister in law phone to explain family was in town and we were all out together.

I thought this would put an end to the problems and show that the woman downstairs was using security to retaliate against us. We could hear her on her balconey one night complaining about how she couldn't listen to her tv but she had to listen to our child's jumping and running. I swear she was the one sounding like a child.

I DID feel badly about this because I didn't feel she deserved a warning to begin with. I WANT to get along with my neighbors. I just wanted the manager to ask her to turn it down, not slap her with a written warning.

The problems continued on. She stopped phoning security and began a letter writing campaign of her own to the manager about us.

By the last week of February, we came home one day to find a Three Day Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit the apartment. The notice said we had to control our child's noise. I was pretty much freaking out then, because I knew this was a prelude to a 30 day notice to vacate. How in the world I was to control my child was beyond me. My child wasn't making unreasonable noise, however that is not what the tenant below was writing to the manager.

We met with the manager again on this and she read an excerpt of one of the letters the woman had written about us. She said, "I feel terrorized and tormented in my apartment. These people are evil and vicious. I fear for my life. My daughter is tormented and can't sleep at night because these people are up all night long making so much noise."

We were truly exasperated. I mean... I was in shock over the letter because we certainly are not up 24 hours a day making noise and my child sleeps all night. The letter went on to state she had to go to a doctor to get sleeping pills because of our daughter.

We had a brief heated discussion with management about how to control our child when our child is just a toddler. We were told to take our child outside if the noise level went up. This was confusing as the noise level had not changed in the entire year since the tenants had been living beneath us. Also, it was rainy, windy, and stormy. Too cold to take our child outside. The manager began to side in with the other tenants and told us we had to do something because the tenant felt tormented by our child.

We tried explaining this was retalitory and to look back on all of those false security reports made on us. It seemed to not matter to the manager.

We got an attorney but the attorney told us to investigate to see if all familes were treated this way in the complex. We didn't find anyone who really was except one woman was told to keep her kid quiet after quiet hours, which I feel is reasonable. The attorney told us that what management was doing was illegal because apartments cannot make rules against children. But something inside of me still worried.

We were approached by management March 1st about moving to a ground floor apartment. We agreed to do so. The apartment was to open up on May 1. I had no problems in going to the ground floor, whatever it took to find a resolution.

Meanwhile, the woman downstairs was still angry and decided to write the owners a strongly worded letter about our daughter. Before we even had the chance to move to a ground floor, the manager came knocking at our door last week with a 30 day notice to vacate. I began to cry and felt really upset because I felt like this was unfair. The manager actually laughed and said there was a sea of apartments out there. I thought, how can this be funny? We have lived here for years and didn't want to give up our home. I was already willing to move to a groundfloor. I asked the manager if we could wait and do that and she said she couldn't because it was all coming down from the owners to vacate us. The owners even faxed a note to the manager to give to us that said, "And do not torment the neighbor below you during the last month of your tenancy here with us". I am still upset over that!!! I do NOT torment people.

Then the attorney tells us to stay in the apartment, refuse to go, and let ourselves get an unlawful detainer and we would all go to court. Well, no thank you. I refuse to risk getting an unlawful detainer on my credit record. No one will rent to a person that has that on record.

I found another apartment Saturday morning that I really liked. They had a 2 bedroom ground floor open. We decided to jump on it and put a deposit down.

I'm still worried however that once we move, someone else is going to have some issue with my daughter's noise. I sit here in disbelief because I wonder how it all came to this. I feel sad to lose my home, my neighbors next to us that we see all the time, and it's really hard to just pick up and go, but I have no other choice it seems.

I purposefully chose a ground floor this time in hopes we do not have this problem again. Now I worry the people above us will not like hearing our daughter.

Any thoughts on my situation, or advice on ground floor apartment living? Will her noise travel upwards as easily as downwards? It's a concrete flooring with very padded carpeting at the new place.

I'm feeling so anxious I'm going to be going through this all over again. :(

Thank you.

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I'm sorry to hear about your situation. It really stinks when good people who are trying to be cooperative end up on the sour end of these things. Maybe instead of writing a letter to the owners about this, write a letter to the editor of your local paper warning future tenants about your problems there. And given everything you've had to go through, I would almost say it could be worth it to talk to your attorney about sueing the woman below you for your moving expenses as it is her lies that are causing you to have to move. And obviously she's caused some mental anguish there. Just a thought since it sounds like you have proof of her harassment.
As for noise in your new place, I wouldn't be as worried about noise traveling up. But to be on the safe side, why not introduce yourself to the upstairs neighbor when you move in? Good luck to you.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2006 at 11:58AM
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I'm going to be speaking with our attorney on Monday. I don't know what can be done.

I just want to move away from here and pray everything goes better at my new place. I feel like my home was stolen away from me.

I'm also very very upset. A year ago, our next door neighbor had a girlfriend who was drunk and angry at him. She was down on the sidewalk screaming up at his apartment in the middle of the night and throwing rocks. One of the rocks hit my bedroom window and cracked it. I made a written report on this way back then and my window never did get repaired.
Now, the manager is telling us WE have to pay for HALF of the damage on that window. How in the world am I responsible for a window I didn't damage? I told her to look in our file and see that we didn't do this.
I truly sense my problems at this apartment will not be over, even after I move.
I was also told by a woman who is the process of moving that she is only getting $100.00 of her $600.00 deposit back because the manager did a walk through and said she had to charge for painting, carpet cleaning, new blinds, and a new toilet seat. I went inside of her apartment and looked around. Her apartment was IMMACULATE other than the blinds being a little bit tinged with wear and tear. White blinds are hard to clean anyway, especially when they are nearly 10 years old.
I just know I won't see my deposit back either. This place is a joke.
On top of all of this, I receive a note from the owners taped to our door warning us "Do not torment the tenants below during your last 30 days of tenancy."
My husband was IRRATE at this accusation. I have never tormented a person in my entire life! He went to speak to the manager about the note and he asked her, "Do you think my wife and I are really the type of people who would torment a person?" He said she just shrugged her shoulders and told him she was just doing her job.
I feel like my rental history here is ruined thanks to the insanity of these people below us.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 4:40AM
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Tell that person who is being charged for painting and cleaning that that may be illegal. Here in Michigan painting and cleaning the carpet is part of the cost of doing business, and it is illegal for a landlord to charge a tenant for such things as it's part of normal wear and tear.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 1:10PM
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I agree w/ Judi_e--in most jurisdictions will not allow the landlord to charge a tenant for repainting or carpet cleaning or toilet seats.

Broken windows, yes, if you break them.

what a bummer for you! I'd vote for finding a way to put the whole thing behind you, as fast as you can, even if it means not suing, etc.

The goal is your emotional and mental well-being, and dwelling in that past experience won't be good for you. Consider yourself lucky to be able to get away from these people--manager AND tenant AND owner.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2006 at 1:46PM
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My attorney says I have a case and could sue on the grounds that "excessive and unabated noise" has not been proven and the management's investigation is faulty. He also says that if my child's noise is not excessive, then we are being discriminated against for having a child. In that case, I need to see if other families in our complex suffer the same issues or warnings that I have.

I am so physically and emotionally exausted from this, I'm not sure I have the strength to continue with a law suit. Not mention my husband works third shift.

I just feel sooo wronged on many levels and I do agree I'm lucky to be getting away from the manager, owner, and tenant.

Thank you!

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 12:19AM
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Wow, I just read your story. That is TERRIBLE! I agree with everyone else -- you are being discriminated against and I think it is worth suing them. But you have to weigh the emotional and time costs of suing. If you have the time and you think it will help protect someone else in the future as well as provide some closure to you, then do it. If not -- if it will only add to your stress -- and you think you can let it go, then move on to your next apartment and enjoy your life.

I will tell you that we almost moved into an apartment in which this could have been us. We needed to find a bigger apartment because we were planning to have a baby. We found one that we thought we liked, though it was a bit expensive for us. We negotiated the rent down a bit and signed the lease. That night I had a panic attack about it because the owner of the apartment, who lived below this apartment, had gone on and on about the previous tenant who had a child that cried a lot. He said something about not knowing our plans but assumed we wouldn't be the same kind of tenants. It worried me because babies cry. You have no idea what your child's temperment is going to be like and I realized that if we were lucky enough to get pregnant and have a baby, this guy and his wife could potentially make our lives miserable (including but not limited to increasing our rent significantly). The next day we backed out of the lease (at great expense to us). Several months later, we found an even better apartment (and I was pregnant by then) that was less expensive. The landlord is a peach. I have asked him numerous times whether my son's crying or his toddling (or his periodic sippy cup drops from his high chair) bothers him or his brother. He always responds by saying things like "babies cry" or "I hope we aren't too loud for you!" It is SO nice to be in a space where you can just live your lives and not have to worry all of the time. We are all respectful of one another as well as understanding. It makes such a difference! I hope this new apartment will provide you with the same kind of safe-haven we have found with our apartment. You deserve it!

But, just in case you find that someone complains about noise in your new place, you can always try corkboard for the ceiling....

Hang in there! I am sure this nasty woman who has forced this on you will have her day. Her negative energy is bound to come back and bite her in the bum one of these days...


    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 2:50PM
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I don't think I'd sue; you might have trouble proving a pattern of discrimination. And I don't think you're technically being discriminated so much as harrassed--which is not tort, but criminal law.

After the second time she complained when you weren't home, you might have been able to persuade the district attorney or the cops to bring charges--or at least investigate her actions, which might have scared her off, and indicated that you weren't to be trifled with.

Now, just get out of there. Let it go. Focus on the future. Find something about the new place to love more than the old.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2006 at 11:01PM
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Thanks Jen, for sharing your story. I only wish I had thought ahead like you did!! And thank you for your opinion Talley sue. I think you are right!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 10:36AM
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I would just continue on, do you really want to live in a place with landlords like that? Children are a natural part of life, and wonderful, being in a concrete building will make a huge difference all around, as well as being on the main floor.
good luck with everything.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2006 at 10:54PM
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Hi. I am so sorry to hear of your situation! I lived in a 2nd story apt. when my daughter was a toddler also, but thankfully had a family with a daughter of around the same age below us, so we both understood there might occassionaly be some noise, although she said she rarely heard much from us. We could have been a LOT less fortunate.

I would not sue the apartment complex. It isn't worth your time, really. However, if you had the energy I *would* take the tenants below you to small claims court for any moving costs you incur, and possibly even pain and suffering (emphasis of course on the suffering). It is relatively cheap to file a small-claims lawsuit, and it would hopefully send a message to this lady that you can't go around causing huge problems for people just because they look at you cross-eyed. Because she WILL do this again to someone else who complains about her unless someone sends her a message that it could be costly to torment someone (because it was HER who did the tormenting, not you).

Just my 2 cents (or 25

    Bookmark   April 19, 2006 at 6:25PM
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