Downstairs neighbor is unreasonable

Andy1975September 22, 2004

I'm looking for any advice I can find to remedy this situation. Three years ago I moved into the upstairs unit of a brand new 2-story condominium. About a year later an old lady moved into the unit below me. She minds her own business and we mind ours (I have my girlfriend and her daughter living with me. The old lady is alone). Last summer the problems started. My girlfriend was putting her plants out on the balcony and a tiny bit of dirt fell down through the cracks to old lady's porch. This old woman started hollering and screaming at my GF. So we apologized repeatedly and offered to sweep it up. But the woman didn't want us coming down there. We tried to be nice to her but there was nothing we could do to make her happy. Since then any noise that comes from my apartment makes this old woman so mad that she starts banging on her ceiling.

I had an old squeaky bed and any time I would roll over or move at all it made enough noise for her to hear, because she would start banging the ceiling repeatedly in the middle of the night. Forget about having sex. I had a few sessions interrupted by the old lady. So I finally got rid of the bed. But that was only the beginning. She bangs if we walk too loud. Now I have a year-old nephew who is learning to walk. My sister brings him by to visit about once a week. Well, let me tell you he might be small, but when he falls down she must hear it because she bangs the ceiling for that too. And her banging used to only be after 9 PM, and I accepted that. I know 9 PM is when people need to be quiet. But a couple days ago she was banging at 7 PM.

If you're still reading this, you get the point. Anyway she has called the condo association and complained. They sent 2 representitives to our place. One stayed downstairs, and one came up to my place. He walked all over the house and the guy downstairs said there was not an unreasonable ammount of noise and there was nothing they could do. I can't take this woman anymore. I've heard her son is on the condo board, so I have a feeling I'm going to have to deal with this situation further. I don't play music, the TV is never very loud, I've never had a party. I think this woman has too much time on her hands and all she does is sit and wait for something to complain about. I'm sure this is similar to other people's problems on this board, but I'm just curious if there's anything I should to differently (I don't want to move yet). Thanks in advance. Andy

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I should add a couple things. First, our entire apartment is carpeted except for the kitchen and the bathrooms. The place that she bangs the ceiling is usually the living room. Second, I can hear our next door neighbors on a daily basis. They have large dogs and I think the dogs are the main source of their noise. But I would never bang on the wall. I wouldn't even think of complaining. I know that when you move into an apartment/condo you are going to hear other people. I just wonder if I'm the only person dealing with this problem in the whole complex.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2004 at 11:33AM
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Another thing, we never wear shoes inside the house. I used to be a 'heavy' walker. I weigh about 215 lbs. and have learned to walk practically on my tip-toes all the time. It's hard to tell my sister that she can't bring my nephew to visit because he falls down too loudly. After 9 PM she knows to keep him under control, but any earlier I think he should be allowed to walk/fall. Any thoughts?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2004 at 11:50AM
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Or, lodge complaints against HER with the condo association.

But what, really, can they do? In my co-op, we could kick her out--pass a bylaw that says that any resident who bangs on the ceiling can be evicted, and then document and evict. We can even force her to sell her shares/apartment, even if she doesn't want to. I know; my co-op did it to someone. We'd gotten fed up; he'd done the last-straw sort of thing, so we said, "here's a condition; if you break it, you're out." Fortunately for us, he did.

But what can a CONDO association do? Do they have any muscle? I guess they coudl issue a fine, but it would be hard for them to enforce, because they'd just have to take your word for it. I doubt it, and I doubt that even if they do they won't want to use it, given that her son is on the board.

So I'd see what you can do to sell.

Crummy, huh.

The only other thing perhaps would be to preview the noises for her--she doesn't sound like she'll be amenable, but perhaps if you could say, "my little nephew will be coming over, he's so cute as he learns how to walk, I hope he won't be too loud for you."

Then, she knows what the noise is, which sometimes helps people. And she's been warned, so she can't be a problem.

One time I had a "bang on the ceiling" neighbor (the guy that got kicked out of the condo), he got hysterical bcs I was vacuuming--for the first time in (seriously) 4 or 5 months. I think that because he seldom heard us, he thought it was extreme. If I'd been vacuuming twice a week, he would have been used to it. I say this because the apt over OUR heads was vacant for a while after being inhabited by an ill and elderly woman. When her sister took over the space, she vacuumed every week, and it was really noticeable! Because we weren't used to it.

Maybe you need to HAVE some parties--mention them to the co-op board first (in fact, invite some board members!!), warn her politely, and go ahead. Then she'll have an idea of what kind of noise she COULD have over her head, and maybe the change would make a difference.

Or, call her and call her son every SINGLE time she bangs on the floor. Not to complain, but to sweetly, politely, and cloyingly apologize: "oh, your mom just banged on my floor, I'm SO sorry; we'd finished dinner and I pushed my chair back. I'll try harder next time not to make so much noise. You're on the board, and I know you're a good son, so you must surely want to know that her neighbors are truly trying to be considerate." Keep it up, and pretty soon he'll be telling her to please stop banging on the ceiling, because every time she does, you call him to apologize.

Call her, too, and she'll lose the satisfaction of sitting down there and thinking evil thoughts about her.

and she'll hear that each time, you're not being rude, you're just living your life.

Another idea: invite a few board members over just for the evening--conversation, a glass of wine, dinner. Try to do the sorts of things that get her to bang on the floor, and point it out to them when it happens. If you could get her son there without her knowing, it would be even better. Then you could perhaps ask those board members to have a word with her and assure her that they HEARD her complaint, and saw the offending action and that she's being unreasonable, please would she stop.

But she probably won't, so the easiest thing might be to figure out how to move.

    Bookmark   September 22, 2004 at 3:59PM
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Thank you Talley Sue for the advice. I am definately not ready to sell the place and move. But I do like your idea of throwing a party. That old woman has no idea how good she has it. Maybe she should try living under my next-door neighbor with the big dogs who sound like they run straight into the walls. I wonder if the people below them ever have to complain. It frustrates me because I go out of my way to make sure I don't make excessive noise, yet I'm the one who gets complained about.
We have another neighbor in the next building who truly amazes me. He's about 40 years old and drives a sooped-up Mustang with the loudest stereo system you can imagine. It doesn't matter what time of day/night it is, he always has it blaring with the windows down. And he sits there usually until the song he's listening to is over. At least it's a variety of music. One day it's rap, the next day it's country, and the next day it's top-40 or something. It's so loud that it shakes my building. And this goes on at 2 AM. I've been jolted out of my sleep numerous times. But the old lady below me would rather complain about me than the a**hole with the Mustang. I don't get these people. Sorry to rant so much but I feel better now.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2004 at 3:09PM
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Have you considered the possibility that this woman might be developing an illness? Perhaps she is more sensitive to noise or commotion. Perhaps she even knows this about herself and it just makes her more agitated?

Living on top of/next to/under other people is very problematic. In other circumstances I'd probably encourage you to defend yourself in some way, maybe even complain to your condo board. But if she's elderly, if she's ill, she probably won't be living there much longer anyway.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2004 at 7:57AM
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Yes, you are right. She has been taken away by an ambulance twice that I have seen. So maybe sounds from above bother her that wouldn't bother most other people. I believe that is true. In my opinion, she hears every little thing because she doesn't ever leave her apartment. Since she's the only one who lives there, she has nothing better to do than sit and listen. I haven't ruled out lodging a complaint against her for the banging. I just hate to be one to file a complaint. I only want to live my life peacefully. I guess I need a house for that.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2004 at 10:53AM
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"In my opinion, she hears every little thing because she doesn't ever leave her apartment. "

And, you're pretty quiet. So it's time to be less quiet, in a normal sort of way.

Also, you might try to go out of your way to create a friendly feeling w/ her--if she thinks, "Oh, that nice man and his girlfriend have come home," she might be less inclined to be crabby.

Hard to do, when she has been so hostile. That's one thought behind my idea of calling her every time to nicely apologize, and to explain what the noise is.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2004 at 4:06PM
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You're actually what I'd consider a good neighbor. Reasonable noise from you is just that, reasonable. The old woman should really move to a senior condo place, where everyone goes to bed at 8 pm.
My parents have a first floor condo, with a younger, childless couple above them. My parents complain about the people walking, thumping, their TV, squeaky noises in the bed, rythmatic squeaking during their adult time, etc..

I had the impression it was unbearable, so I went to my parents for an entire day/night. What did I hear? Reasonable noises from the people above when living in such close quarters. The building wasn't really made well or to be soundproof. Yes, there were indications of life above them but it wasn't extreme, even with an occasional party. The bottom line....I told my parents they should live in a senior community if things like this bug them. My parents want absolute silence when they watch TV and/or read. I told them that's unreasonable where they expect others to live in silence and tip toe around. A condo isn't that type of place. Some older people need to live in the middle of nowhere or in a community where everyone has the same expectations of living and noise-free spaces. I say have a party, then stick some senior community brochures under her door.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2004 at 9:56AM
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Dicentra is absolutely right. I am assistant manager of my building, in which I've lived for over 8 years. Over the years, I've seen several really uptight tenants who insisted that no one be allowed to make even the reasonable sounds of everyday living: walking (not stomping or running) across their floor; playing their TV or music at a normal level; talking; cooking; going to the bathroom; or even (perish the thought) having s-e-x. We've had tenants who demanded that other tenants be kicked out for snoring. One tenant cut the phone line of another because she thought he was talking loudly on purpose just to bug her (he wasn't--she was inordinately sensitive to noise).

There is unreasonable noise like yelling, turning up the TV to volume 27, banging on drums, playing sports, having parties till 1 AM. Most of the time, people are just living their normal lives and don't need to be traumatized by some overwrought neighbor.

If you can't move out of the situation, begin documenting every time the old lady bangs on her ceiling--what time it was, what you were doing. Show the records to the condo association when she complains and ask their advice. *Most* of the time, management will listen and try to help, if you don't approach them as The Enemy.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 12:41AM
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Kill her with kindness.
Take or send her a box of chocolates... or...some flowers.
In writting or verbally,express to her your wants of a nice place to live. Invite her up for tea to see how you live.
When that baby is over and he falls and she need to march right over to the old ladies condo and I am sure she will hear you coming with those super million dollar ears and tell her nicely...
Hon, my sister's baby is learning to walk and when he falls, you bang and it is scaring the baby.
Or pray for ice storms and broken hips.
My sil use to bang right back on the carpet when the downstairs lady banged with a stick.
As a child, when my father was not at work he was in the basement. He would yell all the time what are you doing jumping up there.Hey stop that banging.
We thought he was crazy.
After I bought my own house (condo) and was in the basement doing laundry I yelled what are you doing jumping with all your might? It turns out he was right. The noise that travels down is horrid. And we were never jumping.
Kill her I say.
With kindness.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2004 at 8:31AM
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