Downstairs neighbors from hell!?

sammadee28April 27, 2014

I need some advice, probably of the legal variety, because I feel that all other types have been exhausted already.

The summary, because I know that I'm going to end up with a novel, is this: we've been in a new apartment for just over a week, and unfortunately have been cursed with the neighbors from hell below us. They're noisy, rude, up until all hours of the night, unapproachable, and have already complained about US three times. We're at our wit's end and ready to move, but we cannot get our security deposit back if we break our lease before it's up... which is in 12 months. I need to know what our options are, if any.

Here's the gist: we live upstairs, they live right below us. Same floor plan. It's a four family building, and the landlords seemed really nice and up to date on their buildings when we signed our lease. It's a nice building and nice apartments, and they run thorough background checks on all tenants and didn't seem like they tolerate any funny business. I figured this would be a good, quiet place for my fianc�, our three year old, and myself (who's 8 months pregnant).

I want to start out by saying I've lived in several apartments in my life, some upstairs and some downstairs. I know how up-the-wall annoying footstep noise on your ceiling can be, and the littlest sounds can be thunderous downstairs, so we came into this with the mindset that we were going to try to avoid the problem before it even became an issue for anyone. We bought lots of rugs and placed them all over our apartment to help muffle our footsteps, especially on the tiled rooms. We don't let anyone wear shoes, even on the carpet. Our three year old is very active, but she already knows there is no running or jumping allowed at all inside. She is in bed by 8:30 every night and I'm soon to follow (I'm pretty exhausted at this point in my pregnancy), so there's no walking around late at night other than when my fianc� gets home from work at 1or 2am, but he takes his shoes off immediately and makes sure he walks very lightly to bed. I'm always making sure that the TV is at the minimal level also, and if music or lots of bass comes on during a movie, I turn it down right away. Basically, I understand that being ground level sucks in apartment living, and we're really making an effort to not be obnoxious.

HOW. EVER. These people below us are essentially the definition of neighbors from hell. They are noisy, inconsiderate, up at all hours of the night, and always have people coming in and out of the building. There are always at least four cars in their driveway for supposedly one adult living there, and usually the people who come and go park in front of our garage. I had to knock on their door at 6am last week because someone's car was behind mine that was parked in our garage; they were very upset to be woken up so early, but that's unacceptable and I wasn't about to be late to work because they can't stay in their own driveway. They also have a tiny but impossibly loud dog who barks literally non-stop when they leave (which is often all day until 10 or 11pm). We noticed that the second day we were here, and it's a consistent problem. It's not an issue that they're simply unaware of, either; I hear them arguing about the dog barking all the time when they get home. My fianc� went to talk to them about it last week. He was polite and suggested that they let us let their dog out every once in a while when it won't stop barking and they've been gone all day; their response: "It's a dog. Dogs bark. What do you want us to do, kill it?" That was the end of that. The thing is, even when they're home, they're just as noisy. They wait until 11pm to do their vacuuming and laundry, and it's incredibly loud up here. I understand that they might work all day and only get the chance to clean at night, but they're completely unwilling to compromise on limiting the late night noise to a few days a week. They have young children, it's not like they don't know what it's like having little ones that need to be in bed with a relatively peaceful background at a decent hour. I would NEVER vacuum past 9pm, and definitely wouldn't do laundry late either. I can only imagine what the vibrations would be like late at night. Yet they have no issue running their washer and dryer at all hours, even though it literally vibrates our entire floor and furniture. They slam their doors and have their TV up so loud we can feel the vibrations up here. Their kids also jump constantly. I understand that kids are kids and you can't always control them, but if I'm making the effort to keep my toddler at bay, shouldn't they have the same common courtesy? Another thing that I know they're not supposed to be doing is having a man living in the unit. When we signed our lease, our landlords let us know who lived in the other two units (one is currently vacant). They didn't tell us names, of course, but just a general "one adult two children" or "two adults" so we had an idea how many people to be expecting in and out of the building. The only people supposed to be living in the downstairs unit is the mother and her two children; however, a man stays there with them off and on, and it's not a relative who needs a place to stay or something like that... it's her boyfriend(we've, unfortunately, had the displeasure of hearing them having sex.) The man is the loudest of them all and yells at the kids constantly. He swears every other word when he speaks and slams doors all the time. I don't feel comfortable with him being in the building, because I know he's violent. I hear the arguments and blow-ups word for word through the floor. Technically, they could be evicted for him being here because he's not on their lease. But do I really want to be THAT person who reports that?

Now, what really irritates me is the fact that they've already complained to the landlords twice about us and called the police once. The first instance was that we needed to stop the "crazy running on the floors," and I can't help but think maybe they're just exaggerating that to the landlords, because we never have anyone running on the floor in our apartment. The second instance, which I'm STILL trying to wrap my mind around, was the complaint that we need to "stop our dog from barking so much." WE DON'T EVEN OWN A DOG! And our landlords know that, because we would've had to have put it in our lease if we had a pet! I reminded the landlord of that on the phone when he called about the complaint, and he immediately apologized and said it must have been a mix up. Yeah, mix up my butt. I'm beginning to feel like we just have vindictive neighbors now after my fianc� tried to talk to them about their dog constantly barking. The third instance, when the police showed up, went something like this: fianc� and I sitting on the couch at 9pm on his night off, watching a rented movie. Police knock on the door. We open the door, they look around and say that they've been called for a noise complaint, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with our TV noise level. Cops apologize for disturbing us and leave.

It's been just a week and we already want to move. This noise level from them isn't tolerable, and with a newborn here in about a month, I cannot even imagine trying to get him to sleep with the dog and their noise. But, like I said at the beginning of this novel, we don't get our security deposit back if we move out sooner than our lease is up. Are there any options whatsoever, or is that always final? I don't want to run to the landlords, because we will just seem like we're retaliating since they already complained twice about us. The cops won't be much help, either. Any experiences with unruly neighbors and how to deal with it? I'm getting pretty desperate here, unfortunately.

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

If there is a vacant unit, ask the landlords if you can move into that. That would be the simplest thing to do.

Ask the landlord to come over for a meeting. Show them the rugs, explain everything you do to keep your daughter quiet.

Tell them that the constant complaints and police harassment are not acceptable. Ask the landlords what they are going to do to make the downstairs neighbors quit bothering you.

Start complaining about the downstairs neighbors. For a week or two, document everything they do that is in violation of the lease, and all their noise. Record the dog barking, take pictures of the cars blocking you in.

I can't believe the landlords didn't know about the people downstairs. They have a choice--keep the unpleasant people down stairs and have people move out of the upstairs unit as quickly as possible, or deal with the downstairs people and have a quiet building.

Also, check with the police to see if there is any consequence for the downstairs people if they continue to make false claims against you.

    Bookmark   April 28, 2014 at 6:50AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Camlan gave some good advice. Also, your lease may have some wording about being able to enjoy the unit. And the lease may also have wording about limiting noise. Read through it and see what you find. You may need to retain the services of an attorney to read through the lease to find an "out" for the situation.

The noisy/rude tenants will not change. It's very likely that the previous tenants in your unit left because of them. For some landlords, it's easier to lose a good tenant than to confront and give an ultimatum to a bad tenant. Every time a tenant leaves and forfeits a deposit, the landlord often wins as long as the unit can be quickly re-rented. Good tenants leave units in good condition.

Also, visit the Neighbors From Hell Forum run by Bob Borzotta: Bob wrote a book about NsFH and has been a consultant on 20/20 and other magazine type shows. The folks who post on that forum have been in your shoes and have good advice.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2014 at 8:03PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Call the police if you need to file a harassment report, photograph and document everything, call the property management company if there is one. The LL was well aware of those low life's downstairs. Talk to a lawyer to find out how you can break the lease under false misrepresentation. The LL is accountable and you should not be at risk in a situation that could worsen into aggression. Protect your safety. Photograph the lowlifes every time they harass you. Take action.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2014 at 2:52PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Running upstairs!!!!
Please someone help me...I need some advice!! At this...
Apartment Owners from H**L
We live in the east in a gated apartment complex owned...
Quiet Hours???? HELP!
What exactly constitutes being quiet during quiet hours? This...
Need help with a doorway partition
I just moved into a studio apartment and I'm looking...
Appliance Size for garage apartment
building an apartment over a garage. apt size is 500...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™