Downstairs Neighbors

orayn45August 7, 2006

My boyfriend and I moved into our apartment two weeks ago. Our downstairs neighbors (they're 20-something, our age, with a toddler) complained that we were being too loud the day we moved in.

I've been pretty darn considerate since then. I don't listen to any music, we keep the TV volume low to the point where WE can barely hear it, etc. I'm even to the point where I'm afraid to vacuum because it might mess up their kid's naptime. We even whisper after 10 pm!

Last night at 11, the woman came banging on my door. I thought I had my TV too loud, so I muted it and didn't bother answering. Ten minutes later, she comes back upstairs and starts banging again. She keeps saying that I'm dropping stuff on the floor and it's keeping her 2 year old up. I had been in the kitchen for the past hour and hadn't dropped a thing (their apartment is laid out just like ours, so unless their kid sleeps in the kitchen, I don't see where it would be a problem). I apologized, told her I wasn't aware of making any noise, apologized again, told her goodnight, and shut the door.

They keep odd hours like we do. When my boyfriend comes in from work anywhere between 12 and 2:30 am, the couple and their mother are always up sitting outside smoking. I can hear their doors slam, their TV at 2am, and the kid crying (the kid really isn't a problem, I know they cry). They've been in their apartment maybe a month, so I know they've never had anyone living above them. What's the best way to handle this situation? I think I've been more than reasonable and a little noise is to be expected without being complained on.

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Too loud when you're MOVING IN?
Yeesh! Gee, what were doing--moving furniture around, or something?

One thing you can do is, should she complain again, point out that YOU are not complaining to her. Tell her, quite nicely, that you hear their doors slam, their TV at 2am when it's WELL past quiet time. And that you understand there will be some noise coming up from down below, and you haven't been complaining to her. Then say, "I ask you to extend the same courtesy to me. I'm not doing heavy construction, I can barely hear my own TV. You need to be patient with the fact that someone lives above you."

Then you can say, "I don't want to vacuum during nap time and wake your child, so would you tell me when he *does* nap, so I'll be able to keep my home clean without disturbing him unnecessarily. I can try to avoid vacuuming during that time--I can't make hard-and-fast promises, because there may come a day when I *will* need to vacuum then, but I can certainly make an effort." And then point out that your heart is in the right place, you've got a considerate attitude for an upstairs neighbor, and you ask her to filter her reactions through that.

I had a roommate once whom I accommodated a lot, but she never really knew that I was eating in my room so as to allow her to watch TV, etc. I found that my resentment grew, and she didn't even *know* I thought I was being accommodating. So I think it's a good thing to seize, or even create, an opportunity to nicely say, "You don't know it, bcs of course there' sa floor between us, but I am already 'putting up with' you inconveniencing me--cheerfully, but nonetheless I am being inconvenienced. Just so you know what the score is."

I would answer the door EVERY time she comes--I think that's a courtesy that will help to create a better relationship between you--if she's willing to come speak to you face-to-face, I think you owe it to her to hear the specific request (it also tells you info you could perhaps use--"I've been in the kitchen, not in the bedroom, for the last half hour, and I have not dropped anything. I don't know what you're hearing, but it isn't me." Or even, "please step and in hear the volume of my TV--I can barely hear it myself, so it's not fair of you to ask me to turn it down any further").

Banging on the ceiling doesn't deserve a response, but a knock on the door does. (Hammering or pounding on the door, not basic knocking, deserves a polite rebuke--"I could hear your knock quite clearly; it's not necessary to pound so loudly." but then of course you need to answer the door when she *does* knock)

The other thing might be to start knocking politely on their door at 2am and asking them to turn the TV down.

And you could mention, preemptively, to the landlord--that you're trying your best, she's complaining to you, you're getting tired of behind chided by them, and you want him to know your basic attitude--that you're understanding of noise from THEM that drifts up to you; that you are amendable to the idea that you ought to take some steps to keep from being too noisy of their heads--keep the TV at a moderate level, walk soft, have rugs, whatever; that you've at the limit of what you can do, so if the folks downstairs try to escalate it, you want him to understand.

(also, at 11pm, a 2-year-old should have been in bed for 3 hours already, and if he's still up, he ought to be able to fall asleep through almost anything)

Try to approach the conversations as opportunities to decipher what is REALLY making all that "dropping things" noise, since you aren't dropping stuff.

Good luck--it's been 2 weeks, maybe they just need to get used to it, and their complaining will drop off?

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 12:50PM
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