Problem neighbor, or am I the problem?

milton10October 18, 2007

I have a problem.

I recently moved into a beautiful apartment which accepts dogs. On the very first day of moving in, I received a message from my landlord that my downstairs neighbor called to complain that my dog was crying. Feeling mortified, I told the landlord that it may be because of the new surroundings for my dog. Well, after that the downstairs tenant complained EVERY DAY about something, either he could hear my dog walking or crying.

Well, I did everything to calm her down, put soft music on for her (he complained about that too), put her on expensive calming medication, etc. But he kept complaining and complaining. At first glance I thought that I had a problem, but I looked a bit into the history of my apartment and I found out that the downstairs tenant has run off three other tenants! From what I understand, he kept complaining about the music being too loud, dogs crying or barking, walking in heels, anything!

A little more investigating and I found out that he is running a professional recording studio from his apartment downstairs. From what he told me, every sound, footsteps, dogs barking, even soft music, gets picked up by his microphones and ruins his recordings. He even went so far as to ask the apartment office if they could block off the back stairs (they are against his back wall) to stop sound from people walking up and down them from entering into his apartment (which they of course declined).

I did some more checking of my lease and local zoning laws. I found out that there is nothing in the lease that would prevent him from having a business in his apartment. However, when I called the CityƂs Zoning Department, I found out that the area that I live in is zoned residential only and that he is operating his recording studio illegally. I did not press a formal complaint with them (not yet) but mentioned it to the leasing office. The leasing office pleaded with me to NOT press a formal complaint and start an all out war with my downstairs neighbor.

Now the leasing office requested, but did not demand, that I find other housing for my dog. I have complied, but have mixed feelings about it. I have not heard of any more complaints, but have a feeling that he will complain again when I walk to hard or play my radio above a very low level.

This leads me to my main question. Am I being a nuisance, a loud and inconsiderate neighbor? Or is his business needs creating an unreasonable need for silence that is infringing on my rights as a tenant?

Thanks in advance for your help.

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You gave away your dog to please a stranger operating illegally there? Please don't get another one as you obviously have your priorities skewed. Yes, he is infringing with his unreasonable demands.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 4:19AM
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Well, my dog is staying with my mother (who loves animals), so I don't think my priorities are too skewed (I can always get her back). Which is why I complied so quickly to the apartment managers request. Giving my dog away to a complete stranger would have been a different story.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:37AM
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I think your neighbor is the problem. I understand letting your mom keep your dog til you can get some kind of peaceful situation going.

You know it is the old rock and a hard you live up or down. Risk hating kids running over your head or the dreaded nitpicking neighbor under you who complains because you "live."......

I have a good friend who just moved because the guy under her started on day one, she walked too loud, she walked too much, she ran her disposal too long, her washer was too loud when it was endless. I don't understand why landlords seem to cater to those kinds of tenants. They are the problem in my eyes. If this guy wants solitude and quiet, he needs to buy a house!

Since you just moved in and you are having issues can you ask to be transferred to a downstairs unit and tell the manager you want your dog back and you want to live quietly without this stress, perhaps since you are doing them a favor by not turning this guy in, they can help you out by letting you switch to a down unit.

Best of luck

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 10:59AM
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"I found out that there is nothing in the lease that would prevent him from having a business in his apartment."

I am very surprised at this. Most leases say you may not run a business out of your apartment. They don't go looking for it, but if it causes a problem like MaryKay customers coming and going all day in the halls with the lobby buzzer going off all the time, loud noise from a potters wheel, noxious odors from a kiln, ect., they can use it as a reason to get rid of the tenent.

I don't think commercial zoning laws cover "cottage industries". For instance if you sew children's clothing, and sell them on eBay or to consignment stores, you have not broken zoning codes. The codes are in place for retail or manufacturing establishments who would draw traffic to the neighborhood with parking problems and loud early morning deliveries. Or create an unsightly mess on their property storing barrels of supplies and having a 40 yard parked constantly on the front lawn. You can't run an auto repair place out of your garage unless your house is in a commercial area (some are) or raise stinky, noisy, goats for cheese unless you are in a area zoned for agriculture.

A guy recording his voice would not be breaking zoning laws. What kind of 'cease and desist' order are they going to write up?? His business is not causing any problems.

The problem is the guy's "the world revolves around me, and me only" attitude with his living arrangement.

The guy is being unreasonable expecting to operate such a business in an apartment building and everyone else has to accomodate his unique needs. I am astounded that the leasing office wants to side with this guy.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 12:22PM
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Now the leasing office requested, but did not demand, that I find other housing for my dog.

I think they have broken their leasing agreement with you. You are not getting the full value you are paying for. You are paying that rent in that apartment because you wanted to be able to have your dog in your home.

I think the REAL solution here, and you might propose this to the leasing office, is that you get to live, w/ your dog, in the apartment you are payng for, and the leasing office IGNORES YOUR NEIGHBOR!

He writes them a letter of complaint. They write back one time that they have investigated the situation, they find that the noise is normal, and that his lease does not in fact entitle him to the soundproofing level he desires.

Then they throw his letters in the trash every single time.

In fact, I think you could do this as well. Write up a letter in response to the complaints. "Here is what I'm doing, Here's what I've found out about my neighbor's noise complaints in the past. I consider these to be excessive, and I insist on my right to have my dog walk across my floor. I do not agree that his right to run a recording studio out of his apartment should take precedence over my right to enjoy my home in a reasonable manner. The issue is closed. If you reopen it, I will consider this to be harrassment." And then you simply put a new date on it, print it out again, and mail a copy to him and the office every time they say anything to you.

Let him deal w/ having to move.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2007 at 2:45PM
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You rented an apartment which allows dogs, and unless he is barking constantly at all hours, you have a right to stay. Just because some tenant is using super-sensitive microphones & recording equipment in his unit does not allow him to infringe on your peaceable enjoyment of the premises.

By the way, "dogs crying or barking, walking in heels"? How do you get shoes their size?

    Bookmark   October 19, 2007 at 3:48PM
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"By the way, "dogs crying or barking, walking in heels"? How do you get shoes their size?"

Ha Ha! No, the girl that lived in the apartment before me wore heels. She also had two chihuahuas. He complained about her walking on the floor, the dogs running on the floor and the dogs barking.

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 5:02PM
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This is an interesting post for me to read because I am on both sides. On the one hand I have a downstairs neighbor who complains about me living my life (walking around) and I have posted about it before. On the other hand, recently the people above me got a dog, and it is totally annoying when the dog barks incessantly and when he is allowed to run back and forth. So far I have not complained about the dog because there have been only a few days in the past month that he has barked incessantly throughout the day, and when he is allowed to run back and forth on the (probably bare wood) floors, it generally only lasts a few minutes. But it's still annoying.

I won't complain until there is a clear pattern of the dog being left alone during the day repeatedly and if he barks alot. I won't complain about the running if it's only for 5 minutes a few times a week.

I will say I am MUCH more annoyed by the downstairs neighbor who complains about me, than I am about the noise coming from above me.

I think you are being taken advantage of, and I think you feel like you have fewer rights because you're the new girl/guy in town. You have the right to have your dog there, and to live normally. You must make sure your dog behaves and maybe consider getting rugs if the neighbor can hear your dog walking around (this would be the neighborly thing to do for anyone, though you are probably so aggravated by the recoring studio guy that you don't feel like it)

Regarding the studio, I suspect it falls into the category someone mentioned above such as the person who sews clothes. I think tally sue's advice is good!

    Bookmark   October 20, 2007 at 11:35PM
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My leases state that tenants must abide by local zoning laws. I am very surprised that mgmt is allowing this guy to run a business out of an apartment when it's zoned residential.

Lots of good advice here. That guy downstairs is never going to be happy till he has complete silence and if that's what he wants, he needs to construct his own recording studio in a building or space zoned for commercial use and not try to run it out of a residential building with lots of other occupants. Sounds like he's taking the cheap (and illegal) route.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 10:53AM
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I have seen so many posts on this forum about people that hate living underneath others. My biggest complaint though has always been living above someone who complains because you "live"..........In my single days, I lived upstairs from a guy that drove me nuts with his little notes and constant complaints about the way I disregarded his need for peace. I worked 2 full time jobs and was never there, never partied and other than running the vacuum I only slept. But some people will make your life hell if they live under you.

I like living downstairs and having nobody under me complaining about me just living. I can vacuum at 11pm, I can use the washer and dryer at all hours and watch tv without anyone hearing me. My upstairs neighbors told me how they try so hard to never make any noise and I have never heard them and told them to just live and know that I am not going to complain. Sometimes your work schedule requires you to vacuum at midnight, or you might spill something..........sometimes you can't sleep and need to have the tv on til 3 am. Our apts have what they call "dead space" in between the floor and ceiling and most apts are built to where your ceiling is your upstairs neighbors floor, those are very noisy. Ours now is also a bit staggered so you are not lined up with one another's space.

In our lease it states than any business is considered in violation of your lease terms and you shall be evicted. Does yours not have a stipulation like that?

Best of luck, my whole point is I hope this guy doesn't force you to move.....make him do the work! Dig your heals in and if you love your apt, stay and make his life hell. You have to right to ruin his recording because he doesn't have the right to be making recordings that cause everyone around him in an apt community to be quiet jut for him..........let him have the agony of moving.........

Keep us posted

    Bookmark   October 24, 2007 at 11:28AM
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Look, cottage industries do not fall under zoning codes. People are allowed to "work from home". Do you think that website designers and software deveopers need to work in a commercial area? What about phone answerers? Seamstresses? Tax preparers? An architecht who does drawings at home? What about all the prople who sell on eBay for a living? I have a friend whose job it is to shop for potatoe chips and cookies and then take them home and count the contents and weigh them and count broken pieces and type up a report and send it in to the company as a quality control report. Is she going to get kicked out of her home for doing this?!?!?! Geeesh. Of course not. Another friend writes for magazines from home. If everybody had to get an office or studio to do these things, cities would be ghost towns.

Zoning is to regulate traffic and congestion into an area. You can't run a buniness out of your home that brings in either pedestrian traffic or vehicular traffic. Or causes a nuisance with noise or odors or anything else that residents may complain about. I have a neighbor who is running an illegal day care center out of her home. Cars are coming and going all day long with pick-ups and deliveries of children and babies. There are screamming children running around in the yard all the time and a row of strollers with babies lined up outside on days when the weather is nice. Now that is a business that is breaking zoning laws. My parents next-door neighbor is running some sort of business that involves a gigantic semi driving into the alley and unloading crates of who-knows-what a few times a week. That is breaking the zoning laws. Some neighbors finally complained and reported it, as the loooong semi would block access to everyone's garage and the driver would just tell people to "hold on" and wait while they unloaded the truck sometimes making people late for work or just making people idle their cars waiting or having to back up out of the alley to let the truck out. That is breaking zoning codes.

What is the diiference between a hobby and a business? Huh? If someone paints watercolors as a hobby it is OK, but if they take them to a gallery and sell them then no? If you sew your DD a dress it is OK, but if you sew five of them and sell them on eBay, then all heck will break loose with the LL and the zoning codes? If a guy records himself and get paid for it......?

Going after this guy by trying to use zoning laws won't go anywhere. This is a tenent/landlord issue.

The guy is just a jerk expecting everyone to tiptoe around him. I like Talley's sample letter to sent to management. It could just be CC&P and printed out and mailed to them.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 1:56AM
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heh heh heh heh well i`d start wearing heels and get four of them for the dog! wonder if he`s paying proper taxes on this recording buisness??? buy yourself a wooden rocker, spend your time reading and rocking hahahaha better yet get a jump rope!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 4:56AM
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bud, cottage industries do indeed fall under stipulation of zoning laws. Guidelines must be met, taxes must be paid, inspections must be allowed, etc. The following are examples of language of local zoning statues:

The cottage industry shall be clearly incidental and subordinate to the use of the premises for residential purposes

The particular uses conducted by the Cottage Industry, and their operation and appearance, shall not change or disturb the residential or rural character of the premises or its surrounding.

Someone sitting at their PC selling items on ebay or an architect or accountant doing paperwork at a desk is not the same as the scenario described here where prior tenants have been driven away and this master mixer is constantly asking everyone to tiptoe around and even went so far as to request that a stairwell be closed off so as not to disturb his business. It would seem his 'cottage industry' is attempting to supercede the primary purpose of the apartment complex. That is typically against zoning laws.

heh heh heh heh well i`d start wearing heels and get four of them for the dog! ROFL! ;D

    Bookmark   October 25, 2007 at 6:09AM
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