Noisy Neighbors: Management Useless, Can I Break My Lease?

Shiloh2169June 6, 2012

Okay, first off I have lived in my ground-floor apartment for about 6 years now. In those six years I have had 3 upstairs neighbors and I have never once heard their television or their video games. Occasionally I would hear their music, but I would just go to another room and turn up the television until it stopped.

Four months ago, two women (I think they're sisters), in their late twenties/early thirties moved in with a six year-old boy. They are by far the loudest neighbors I have ever had. They let the boy bounce balls, which should be illegal on a non-ground floor apartment, one of them likes to exercise at 6am (even on weekends) in her bedroom, which is right above mine and I swear it sounds like they all have concrete shoes.

But I can live with all that, believe it or not. What I can't deal with is the stereo they insist on blasting almost every day. They don't do it past 11pm, so I've never called the cops as I feel they have better things to do during the day. And it's not just music, it's the television and the video games.

I let it go the first couple days they moved in because I figured they were listening to it while they were unpacking. But by the fifth day, I was fed up to say the least. I went up and knocked on their door, bringing freshly baked cookies and welcomed them to the neighborhood, then after a few introductions, asked them politely to turn the music down. They just kind of glared at me, but turned it down. That lasted about a week. They started blasting it again and over the course of the next two weeks, I would knock on their door and while they wouldn't answer it, the music would come down to an acceptable level. Then one night when they were watching Pearl Harbor, and yes I could identify the movie from my apartment, I knocked on their door and one of the women answered it and had the audacity to complain that I was bothering her. Okay, seriously?

The next thing I know they have their bass turned up and I'm watching my pictures vibrating on the walls, there have been a couple times when they've fallen off. I knocked on their door several times, but no one ever came to the door. This is when I contacted management. At first they were very understanding about it and sent them a letter reminding them that the lease clearly states you are not allowed to disturb your neighbors and about my right to quiet enjoyment.

That didn't work, so then they told me to call the office whenever it was too loud. I did, and my neighbors stopped playing their music and blasting their television during office hours. The manager then told me to keep a log and write a written complaint documenting the time and describing the noise for each incident and submit it to them. I did one better. I gave them the names of the songs and shows. My brother identified a couple of the video games they were playing too when he came to visit. Management said they would send them a certified letter giving them 21 days to be in compliance with the lease.

And that's where the help stopped.

I'm not even sure the manager sent the certified letter. My neighbors are accusing me of harassing them, despite the fact that I haven't knocked on their door or talked to them in two months, and believe me when I say that it required a lot of restraint not to. They say that they are "afraid to breathe" because they're afraid of upsetting me. If that were true, we wouldn't be having this problem.

After a long conversation with the property manager and threatening to go over her head to her regional manager (which I really hated to do, but she was totally blowing me off), she gave me the number for one of the maintenance guys who lives in the complex and told me to call him if it got too loud again. That very night it did and I called him. He said he could hear it walking down the sidewalk outside of the building which meant that it was beyond loud, his words not mine, and went up and knocked on their door. They turned it down and it stayed off for the rest of the night and he told me he would talk to the manager in the morning. I never heard anything back. I stopped by a week later and the managers said that the neighbors were accusing the maintenance guy of racism (they're hispanic and he's black) then they told me there's really nothing they can do without proof. So I borrowed my brother's iPhone and recorded the music and gave it to management. The neighbors accused me of playing the music in my apartment and recording that. The manager says that she wants to hear it for herself, but they never blast their stereo during office hours anymore. They're annoying and inconsiderate jerks, but they're not stupid.

I don't want to move, but I will if this doesn't stop. The problem is that I signed a lease literally the week before they moved in and I still have 8 months left. Do I have enough to validate breaking the lease?

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Shiloh - can't you go to the regional manager now? I am an upstairs neighbor but never put the stereo on, have the tv at a reasonable level, and am cognizant about not dropping things onto the floor. That said, my downstairs neighbor says I walk too loud (which is something I can't really change). Your neighbors sound like they are doing this on purpose to irritate you since they now know it bothers you. Where my downstairs neighbor is being unreasonable, your upstairs are being unreasonable and it probably makes things in your place unenjoyable (which you have a right to do). If music is after hours, can't you call the non-emergency police line? If it's documented there, maybe the property management will be more likely to take action. Are there other neighbors (next door to them) that might form a coalition with you?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 4:33PM
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The manager says she needs proof. Ask her what type of proof would be needed. IMO, if the proof she needs is that she hears the noise herself, then she needs to be there after office hours to hear it. She can't claim she needs to hear the noise herself and then arrange things so that she is never there at the right time. See if you can either get her to stay late or give you a phone number to call when it gets loud, so that she can come back and hear it.

Although why she won't believe the maintenance guy, I don't know.

I'd give the manager one more chance to do the right thing. Then I'd contact the regional manager.

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 4:43PM
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I'm pretty sure she knows that it's way too loud. She doesn't actually believe the maintenance guy is racist, if she does then she needs her head examined. I think she's stalling because she doesn't want to kick out paying tenants. I've actually tried to arrange something with the manager, because my neighbors usually start up around 6:30pm, half-an-hour after the office closes and all-day on Sundays when the office isn't open at all. The problem is, the office is usually closed by the time I get home from work. Tuesdays are the only days I'm home before 6pm and I think they've caught onto my pattern because she's always busy now when I show up and she's off on Saturdays. I've left messages with her assistants but she's totally dodging me. I sent an email to the regional manager last night, I don't have their phone number and can't find it for the life of me. It'll probably be a week or so before I hear anything back.
As for my neighbors, they're friends with the people who live next door to them. The guy who lives above them is deaf (I'm not joking he's actually deaf). The woman who lives directly across from them works evenings and doesn't get home until midnight, but she actually told me that she can sometimes hear their television in her living room during the day, but she doesn't want to get involved. I think I can work on her and she might be willing to talk to the manager, if I can ever get a hold of her, but I still don't think my manager will do anything. If the regional manager won't get involved, can I break my lease without shelling out the subsequent fine?

    Bookmark   June 6, 2012 at 5:34PM
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I feel your pain. I have a 74 year old idiot living in the apartment below me who likes to play his 60's music loud with the bass turned way up. And the best part is, he usually isn't home listening to it; he turns it on and then he and the wife go out. I can't for the life of me understand why someone would blast music and go out. It's not so people will think he's home and not break in because he's got a German Shepherd that barks when anyone comes to the door or walks by the windows. It's just to aggravate me and he's done it to the tenants that lived there before me. I have complained numerous times to the landlord who basically told me he wasn't going to say anything to him because "you have to give him some leeway" (I complained about some other aggravating things he was doing that the landlord addressed with him). Basically, the landlord is afraid of him. So I have taken to playing loud jazz music when they come home from being out. I make sure the bass is up and I'm hoping that they can hear it as loud as I hear theirs, since the subwoofer is on the floor. It's terrible to have to live this way and I really like my apartment and hate to move. It costs money, time and aggravation. I keep praying he'll move but he'll die here, though not soon enough . . .

    Bookmark   July 8, 2012 at 9:05AM
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"Leeway" implies that he's not actually trying to annoy you :) Just an update, a few weeks ago the walls in my apartment were shaking so badly from my neighbors' bass that a shelving unit collapsed...while I was sitting underneath it, cleaning up broken glass from a picture frame that also fell off the wall. Wound up needing 12 stitches. Anyway, I contacted my lawyer and she drafted a letter stating that if they didn't let me out of my lease they would be sued for damages. Needless to say, they immediately let me out of it. I really didn't want to move, as I was planning on moving cross-country next year, but I couldn't take it anymore. I'm currently in the process of suing my old neighbors for the medical bills. No way am I shelling out 2 grand just because they couldn't keep the volume down.
Now living in a relatively quiet apartment across town. It's smaller and slightly more expensive, but the peace and quiet is worth it.
Momtopom, I moved out a week before the month was out. I borrowed a stereo set from a friend and duck-taped it to the ceiling. I would stop by on my way to and from work to turn it on/off. The property manager called me and told me that my neighbors were complaining about the noise. I just laughed and said that if they didn't like it they could move, like I did. You're the upstairs neighbor, you're at an advantage. Put the speakers against the floor. Stomp around, bounce some balls. Get a subwoofer :) If your property manager tells you to stop, make it clear that you'll stop when the guy downstairs stops. Good luck.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 11:28PM
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"I borrowed a stereo set from a friend and duck-taped it to the ceiling. I would stop by on my way to and from work to turn it on/off. The property manager called me and told me that my neighbors were complaining about the noise. I just laughed and said that if they didn't like it they could move, like I did."

I smiled when I read this! Glad you were able to give a little of the same discomfort you experienced back to them before you left.

What a shame that management let things go this go far.

Sorry you had to be injured before all was said and done, but at least you were able to get out of this horrible situation instead making yourself endure their noise for another year.

I'd file a lawsuit against the management/owner anyway. They knew what was going on and ignored your repeated complaints.

Somebody got hurt and it is THEIR FAULT.

I think you are far more likely to get compensation from the management/owner, than you are from the noisy deadbeats. I'd be surprised if the deadbeats have more than two dimes between them. If the management loses the suit they will very likely evict the deadbeats so it doesn't happen again.

Wouldn't it be nice to be a landlord for the building you won in your lawsuit and be able to personally evict them yourself?! ;)

What does your lawyer say?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2012 at 12:00PM
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