Being a 'noisy' neighbor

thaiyogaApril 23, 2006

My husband and I moved into a 2nd story apartment in a 8-unit complex. It has hardwood floors. Three days into the move, my neighbor downstairs began pounding on her ceiling while I was moving the dining room table. I tried to be quiet the entire day and it's quite difficult when you're trying to move in.

When the cable guy came in to install the cable at 11 am, she pounded on the ceiling again and when my husband came outside, she said that she had the flu and he apologized. She began pounding on the ceiling throughout the next two months even when I was simply folding laundry, or opening my closet door. Once, while the toilet 2 doors away was being replaced, she pounded on the ceiling when there was hammering in the other apartment.

One night we got home at midnight and she pounded on the ceiling again, from the moment we entered the bedroom to the time I was opening the closet. I went outside and she just began yelling at me, saying that I was very inconsiderate, that I moved my furniture and dropped things all the time, and that I must walk like an ogre, et. Then she said, "watch out, you're new."

The next day while I was folding laundry again, she pounded on the ceiling and this time I complained to the landlord, who told me that yes, he had problems with her in the past, and that she was mentally unstable, and was taking medication for it. he told me to "consider the source" and that if I can be tough about it. He also told me that I could have the police deal with it. He did talk to her and the pounding stopped.

Fast forward 2 months, and we haven't heard a thing from her. then last night at 3 am the police come knocking. They said that they were responding to a complaint from the people downstairs about loud noises from our appartment. The call was made at 2 am and we had gone to bed at 11 pm.

My husband told the police that we had had run-in's (his word) with the people downstairs over noise and that we had talked to the landlord about it. THe officers said that it was routine for them to investigate a complaint and that if they had to come back again they'd have to cite us and it would go to court.

Now, if we absolutely didn't do anything other than walk around our apartment like normal people do, how can we defend ourselves against someone who's very unreasonable. My husband says that she seems to have it out for me, always targeting me about the noise, and when we had our confrontation.

Do we wait till we end up in court to defend ourselves? We did sign a one year lease and we're 5 months into it...this was my landlord's reference to "tough it out"...but the woman downstairs is clearly unreasonable and has apparently found another way to 'harass' us. We've resorted to walkign barefoot and almost tiptoeing around our own apartment, and sometimes not flushing unless we absolutely have to...but that's not the way to live.

Any advice?

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Live normal. Your not doing anything wrong; you obviously know that she's crazy. I think if it did end up in court you could clearly fight it. You probably could get the Landlord to help you out... if not then there's a problem there. As far as the police. It's your word versus her's; the old "he said, she said" deal. That can be tough; but, pay backs are a "b!tch".

Here's what I'd do. If I had gone to bed, and was awoke to the police beating on my door. From here on out I'd play stupid; if I was awoke again with someone beating on my door, I'd answer it groogy and with a tad bit of an attitude, and maybe with a baseball bat in my hand; seriously... then when the cops have a attitude (if that's who is at the door), tell the cops "look I've been asleep for 4 hours, and you come busted on my door, I have no clue who you were", ect... That's what I would do. Then go into detail how your neighbor below is "crazy".

Just me. I don't think you have anything to be terrible conserned about. I think the cops were just trying to threatin "whoever" so they didn't have to come out for a BS call.

hang in there. I have a certified noisy neighbor; I wish I had neighbors that would say sorry for being loud and try to be quite.

good luck; keep us posted.


    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 7:50PM
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My husband called the landlord today and the landlord called the downstairs woman's husband, who happened to be at his mother's last night, so he wasn't home to see if we had been 'noisy' or not.

He came up just right now and apologized for his wife's behavior and said that the first time the landlord called them in February, he told them that that he didn't want to be involved and so if there were any problems again, that they should just call the police. And so, he says, she called the police.

He wants us to have each others' phone numbers so they can call us if we are making noise and vise versa...and that we should sit down and "put it all behind us." He said that since the first confrontation, we were on his wife's "bad side." He even asked me if I was dropping things, or doing something that entailed dropping things again and you said, it's the classic "he said/she said" and it gets old.

Having each others' numbers is kinda touchy because I sure as heck don't want her calling me in the middle of the night whenever she hears those 'noises' again.

Any opinions?

Thanks for the advice, btw.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2006 at 11:00PM
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My advice to you is to go talk to the landlord again and this time get it in writing what landlord stated if possible. Also, if you end up in court. Have your landlord there to be a witness that this is not the first time he/she had problems with that lady before. Maybe talk to landlord about being able to get out of the lease because of it. Another solution is maybe have landlord put carpet in. Good luck.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 3:06AM
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My landlord said a few things about this woman, two of which were "weird" and "unbalanced" but he insisted that it was just 'his personal opinion'. He's had to deal with her when he bought the complex 5 years ago and decided to renovate - remove the carpeting and keep the wood floors - which, according to the woman's husband, is when the problem started, because then they could hear everything.

The woman's husband told me that the person before us had problems with her in the beginning, "but he came down with a bottle of wine and apologized, and he was quiet ever since." This guy moved out one year to the day his one year lease expired, and into his newly bought home. I don't think anyone will be seeing me bringing them a bottle of wine anytime soon though...

Two previous tenants who moved out 3 months ago told us about how glad they were leaving because of the "weird" woman downstairs. So I'm kinda stuck with having to deal with her moods, and being on her 'bad side' and having to document everything.

We're not too inclined to exchange phone numbers with them because the woman's husband said so himself: "If we ever end up waking you guys up at 2 am with a phone call about some noise, just tell us it's not you." Yeah, I can see it now...

I will call my landlord and ask him what he stated to them, to be sure. He did tell us yesterday that he would rather not be involved with this...but he did have opinions about her mental state, which he insisted were 'just my personal opinion.'

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 11:50AM
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can you put down rugs? That might help a lot--the hardwood floors won't muffle sounds the way the rugs will.

And take your shoes off when you come home--they can be loud, unfort., especially on a hardwood loor She is hearing you come in the house; not that you don't have a right to, just saying that she many times has responded to an actual accurate stimulus.

Then you can point to those and say, "I've tried."

And I'd put the landlord on notice that he IS involved in this. His tenant's actions are robbing you of your "quiet enjoyement" just as surely as an overly loud stereo would be.

I'd write the landlord a letter, send it registered mail, detailing the police call. Get the report number from the precinct, and the officers' names; give all the details; that you were AWAKENED by the cops at 3am to complain about noise. At a time when you were asleep. Include the information that the cops have said, "if we get a second call, we'll have to issue a citation."

Tell him very plainly that this action has violated your right to quiet enjoyment, and that if it occurs again and HE HE HE does not do something about it, you will consider HIM to be in violation of lease and you will seek redress according to the tenant laws of your state and municipality.

Send a SEPARATE letter that tells him about the banging on the floor when they were fixing a toilet elsewhere. And send another letter EVERY time she bangs on the floor.

It wouldn't hurt to "make nice," but it just depends which you'd rather do. If you object, etc., you might be able to get out of your lease earlier.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 12:50PM
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I see I missed your comment that you do walk around barefoot, so you've already tried that. You need to document that somehow, even if it's only in your letter to your landlord that you say "we no longer wear shoes in the house."

also, I would call the precinct's Community Affairs Officer, and inquire about the officer's comments. Find out if it is true that, should your neighbor call a second time, the cops will automatically write a ticket.

If you do exchange phone numbers, tell the husband that you will pay careful attention to the phone calls.

If she is rude, you will consider it harrassment. If she calls when you are not having a party or moving furniture, you will consider it harrassment.

You could also write to both landlord and tenant downstairs and say, "We understand that there have been complaints about the noise we make. We are going on record that we already are considerate of our downstairs neighbors. We have rugs (if you do). We never wear shoes in the house. We make a conscious effort to walk softly. We truly intend to not be inconsiderate upstairs neighbors. However, we believe we have reached the limit of what we can do to minimize the impact on our downstairs neighbor. We will need to open doors, walk across the room, run the vacuum cleaner, etc. We even reserve the right to move the furniture now and then, as long as it's not late, or prolonged."

(part of what you want to do is create a paper trail you can bring into court if you *do* get cited)
Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 24, 2006 at 4:31PM
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The only input I have about exchanging phone numbers is "hell no". The guy offered to call you at 2am and let you know that your making to much noise, ect... NOPE! Make his happy a$$ get out of bed and walk up to your place to inform you your making to much noise... Then he'll know by you answering the door that its not you. I have problems with my neighbors playing loud music (praise God they have been great since Friday of last week) and there's no way on this green earth I'd give them my phone number; its unlisted for a reason.

Your landlord is obligated to be involved with the issue with your neighbor; he's the manager of the place... go figure, sounds to me he's lazy and doesn't want to deal with "crazy".

I totally agree with documenting everything and sending it to your landlord. You bet.

Hang in there.


    Bookmark   April 25, 2006 at 9:18PM
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Thanks for all your responses. We are definitely not exchanging phone numbers although my number is on my car plate holder should they really want it, as I'm self-employed.

I haven't responded to them since Sunday night when the woman's husband came up to talk to me. And yes, we do have in the living room and another in the bedroom. And we have small rugs on each side of the bed as well.

There is animosity between myself and the woman, and that can't be helped. I consider myself a very very patient person but someone who simply thinks she can intimidate every upstairs neighbor just because they've been in the complex the longest (10 years) has just barked up the wrong tree. Doesn't mean I'll be doing any tap dancing anytime soon, but I will live a normal life...and document everything.

And you're right about the landlord being involved, even though he wants to be left out of it.


    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 12:58AM
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This morning, at 7:30 am, while I'm still in bed, the downstairs neighbor, the man, knocked on my door and said, "I've had it. Were you just pounding on the floor just now?"

I told him that I had done nothing of the sort, and did not make any of those sounds he claimed. He said it was a pounding sound like I was working on something, and then said that if only they had my phone number they could just call me instead of coming up to my door. I told him that that was the reason why I didn't want him to have my number because I had done none of the things he had come up to accuse me for, and the last thing I wanted was to be awoken at 2 am if they heard "noises" coming from my apartment again.

He proceeded to ask again if there was anything I was doing, and I just told him nope. He shrugged and said he'd get to the bottom of it soon. But I really have no idea what they heard.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 11:27AM
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ok... serious issues your down stairs neighbors have. Its almost funny; you got to admit that. Do you live in an Apartment building or a apartment "community". If its an apartment building, I'm actually curious of a few things.

1. how much space is there between your apartment floor and their apartment ceiling. (which leads to #2)
2. Do you think maybe it could be the water pipes knocking?

I have seen water pipes jump all around the place before. Not to incovience your life, but maybe you should be real quite one day, I mean not doing anything and just sit on the couch and listen for noises yourself... Also you could always set up a video camera, showing you just sitting there and if noise's happen, BAMB, you have the proof it wasen't you. But then again, your neighbor is "going to get to the buttom of this" ewwww he sounds like he really means business... go figure.

Tell them to go kick some rocks...


    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 12:39PM
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Oh wow. I just now sat down to read this thread. I definitely empathize with you on your situation.

I wouldn't ever give my phone number out either. Your phone would be ringing off the hook!

Documentation is a pain too!

Your landlord should be taking more of a role in settling this issue with the downstairs tenant. He has already told you that he knows she has some problems, and has had them in the past. It sounds like he is putting the matter into your hands for you both to work it out among you, which can be impossible when dealing with someone who is mentally ill and/or thinks you are out to get them.

I wondered if you had a mediation service for housing where you live? Is it possible to contact them to set up a meeting to talk about the problems? Or is it beyond that?

The one reason I understand your situation is because it's similar to mine. I am vacated out of my place because the woman downstairs became unreasonable with my daughter's noise and wrote some really "out there" letters to the owners. Unfortunately, it seems the person who is most vocal gets there way when they pitch a fit long enough. The managers /landlord tends to give in and move out the person who they *think* is the problem, when in actuality they aren't. Then comes along the next tenant ..... lol

I hope you find a resolution..soon! Please update on the situation, as I am curious about how it will turn out for you.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 1:03PM
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I just got home at 6:30 pm and my husband said that the woman came out of her apartment while he was talking with the next door neighbor on our floor (who said that the woman had knocked on his door asking about the pounding this morning, and he was pretty annoyed by her tone) and she asked in a very hostile tone, "Is your wife home?" He said no, I was still at work, and she says, "Are you sure?"

Maybe I should start taking flamenco dancing...oh well, off to document again.

Anyway, my husband and neighbor next door said that the pounding came from the building next to us. They had heard it too. And the pipes are pretty quiet in this building.

My patience meter is slowly running out though...

    Bookmark   April 26, 2006 at 11:00PM
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hmmm... you know its almost harassment she's doing/giving to you. Seriously, next time just tell them to go pack sand. I don't think they, the Police or your Landlord has anything to stand on to try to do anything to you... Don't do Flamenco dancing, start "tap dancing".


    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 12:16AM
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I wonder if you'd have enough info to get a restraining order against them--just fantasizing.

I'm wondering, how close is the buidling next to you? What other places can the noise be coming from.

Next time they accuse you of pounding on the floor, offer to actually DO it, so they can hear what it sounds like. Invite them in, ask them pick something around the house--like a chair, or hammer, or a book--that you actually OWN, and tell them to go downstairs, and you'll pound on the floor with it, and they can see if it matches the noise they heard. Bcs I bet, if it's in the building next to you, YOU will be much louder than the noise they're hearing, and they'll be able to localize it.

Although, maybe not--if they're not reasonable now, then they'd just find a way to use that against you in the future when someone it renovating next door.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 9:45AM
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I just found the link to 'noise complaints' of my city and if they wish to do so, they can easily file a complaint against me and keep doing it while remaining anonymous to me. I could even be slapped with a $500 fine...that is, if the officer determines that there is a basis to the complaint. It'll be her word against mine.

The neighbors next door to us told my husband that they would vouch for us, if needed, since they say that we are such quiet neighbors. But that's not much of a consolation should I get a written complaint in the mail.

I'm calling the landlord today to confirm what the woman's husband said - that he told them to call the police should there be any problems since he didn't want to be involved in it. Like it or not, he's involved in this mess if he already knew how weird or unbalanced she was.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 11:49AM
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one thing to do, if you honestly think they might call the cops enough to put you at risk of a citation, is to get names and phone numbers of the previous tenants you mentioned.

Also, get the neighbor to write you a letter that establishes the crazy lady accused your NEIGHBOR of causing the banging, and that the neighbor heard the noise and identified it as coming from the building next door. And that you weren't home, and your husband had apparently just walked into the building as well.

Another thing you could try, if you want to try to smooth things over (and it might be interesting from your point of view) is to ask the husband if you can hear the noise from his apartment. Have DH go downstairs, and you walk around in the bedroom--how much noise *does* it make through the floors? Mimic what you do when you're folding laundry upstairs, and open the closet door, etc. Then you'll have an idea exactly how much noise you make downstairs.

You might find yourself w/more sympathy for them, bcs you'll learn how much sound telegraphs, or you'll feel even more confident that you're doing the best you can, and she's unreasonable.

It might also do for you guys to get a little testy back--to point out that he got you out of BED, for heaven's sakes, can't he see that? and that you don't appreciate his tone; perhaps there's noise he's unhappy with, but you certain have never done anything for him to think he or she has the right to speak to you like that. And that by god, if they think you can't shift the dining room table now and then to vacuum, they've got the wrong idea about what life is like. That you're ALLOWED to rearrange the furniture in your home in the middle of the day, and that you don't understand why they can't be patient with intermittent noise midday now and then.

Be a little--just a little--righteously indignant and exasperated.

You've been very conciliatory all along, and it may have simply led them to think that they're right, and you're wrong, and that they don't have to watch their manners around you.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2006 at 1:44PM
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I like the idea of "making noise" to have the same "yes/no" that is or is not where the noise is coming from. Good call.

I still think you should tell them to "kick rocks". Your landlord needs to reach down and do a "Gut check" and fix this problem... As long as their there, they will have problems with whoever lives where you live now. One day they might "cross the wrong tenants" and that won't be good for them at all.

Hang in there, I think your going these recommendations people have made can really help you.


    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 12:48AM
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ooh, and point out to them, should they complain about you walking around in your bare feet, that THEY don't have anyone below to complain about their noise, and they should be grateful.

and you might suggest to your landlord that he move them, at the first opportunity, to a top-floor apartment, so they don't drive away any MORE of his tenants.

You might suggest tot he neighbors that they might be happier if they lived on the top floor. Since even someone walking around in bare feet on a rug is too loud for them.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2006 at 11:16AM
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The landlord put the fear of god in them when he told the husband that unless he reins in his wife, they are at risk of getting evicted, and that noises are to be expected when living in a first floor apartment, and that what they are hearing are normal sounds of people living quietly upstairs. He also told them that previous confrontations his wife has had with us, and calling the police on us at 2 am when we were asleep is considered harassment and should we decide to sue them, that we had a good case against them since neighbors are willing to vouch for us.

I asked the landlord if he ever adviced them to call the police first when a noise problem arose, and he said nope...he told the husband that the police should be called only after talking to the neighbors and trying to resolve the problem cannot be done - I don't consider banging on my floors or yelling at me 'resolution.'. My landlord is a retired police officer, was on the force for 20 years, and he's pretty pissed that the husband took his words out of context. So he was pretty curt with them.

We haven't heard a peep from them since.

    Bookmark   April 29, 2006 at 2:20AM
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hooray! I'm glad the landlord finally stepped up to his responsibilities. And protected his asset--if they've been systematically driving away upstairs tenants every time the yearly lease ends, no wonder he's annoyed.

I'm sure, since you're nice folks, you won't be gleefully stomping up and down now that you've got the upper hand. And you'll be polite when you see them in the hall.

So hopefully they'll get used to a little more *ordinary* noise--and will learn to have some patience with the fact that it exists now and then.

I remembe ronce asking my downstairs neighbor if we were too loud and she said, "it never lasts very long." (so we tried to be quieter, but it pointed out to me that a noise now and then is ignorable; it's the 15 minutes straight that's hard to cope with)

Years ago, DH & I had a stretch where we probably hadn't vacuumed our apartment for months--literally, I'm sort of embarrassed to say. We'd go away for the weekend, come home late from work, eat supper & put the toddler in bed, then not want to vacuum while she was trying to sleep.

Finally, one Saturday night at 7:30, I was actually *home* and the kid wasn't in bed yet, so I got out the vacuum and started to vacuum, doing the floor edges first (no beater). The guy downstairs banged on the ceiling.

So, I decided to cut it short and do only what I felt I *had* to do, which was the rug--unfortunately, that's the beater, so it was louder. I'm sure he thought I'd smply decided to retaliate by making more noise, because he went ballistic and ran around banging on the ceiling for about 15 minutes. My DD was a little nervous.

When I'd finished vacuuming, I called the co-op president and asked her what she suggested I do, now that I'd made him mad, and did she think I had in fact done something I shouldn't by vacuuming at 7:30 on a Saturday eveing.

She called him up and yelled at him.

I decided that what had happened was that 1) we were seldom home at all, actually; and 2) it had been SO long since he'd heard a vacuum cleaner, that he'd forgotten what it sounded like and so he overreacted.

Later, our elderly, sedentary upstairs neighbor died, and her sister took over the care of the apartment until it was sold. She must have vacuumed 3 times a week--and it was really intrusive! Mostly because, I realized, we'd *never* heard the neighbor vacuum. Either she did it during the day when we were away, or she didn't do it at all.

We adjusted.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 3:06PM
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