Loud malicious neighbor

sleepless_stOctober 2, 2004

I live on the top floor of a 1960s-era three-story apartment building. My downstairs neighbor moved in a year ago. I listened to his stereo/TV through my wood floors for about a week before asking the apartment manager to ask the new tenant to turn it down (it had gotten loud enough one night that I could croon along with the songs). The next morning I had a nice note from the neighbor introducing himself and asking to please call him if he ever got too loud again. I introduced myself and found out that he was a nice guy.

So for a year I've had no reason to call him or the apartment manager with noise complaints. About a month ago, however, he started turning his stereo up really late at night - midnight, 1 am - once or twice a week. I finally confronted him at 1 am last weekend. Well, I tried to confront him. He wouldn't open the door, only yelled "Got it." I trudged back upstairs. The music went soft for about an hour and a half and then up again. I was too tired to go down and confront him a second time.

So this morning, at 2 am, he cranks up the stereo. I call the apartment manager and say "My downstair's neighbor has his stereo on way too loud." I assume that he calls him because the apartment goes quiet. Ten minutes later I hear a rustling at my door, like paper. I figure he (the neighbor) is leaving a note. This morning I go to look and there's no note - but the flower poster I had on my door is gone.

I call my apartment manager and fill him in on the situation.

My question is: Where do I go from here? I get the feeling that my apartment manager thinks I'm making too big a deal out of the noise. I try to be very quiet - socks, tiptoeing, keeping the volume of my TV and stereo very very low. I don't expect others to be as considerate, but they should at least follow the "quiet hour" rules set forth in the lease. (Noise should not be heard outside of any apartment between 10 pm and 8 am).

Should I start looking for another apartment? I don't think I will feel safe in this building until the neighbor leaves. I feel silly saying this but the taking of the poster feels really threatening. I can't prove that it was the downstairs neighbor who took it but reasonably who else could it be?

I also have it on good authority that he has a violent streak.

Thanks for listening. I don't want to move (I've been living here for four years) but I don't know what else to do.

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let's see... a new person moved in and you didn't even introduce yourself, then called the manager on them with no warnings?

I wouldn't bother talking to you, either.

you have created a lousy situation. I suggest a 'look, we started off on the wrong foot, I'm not really as big an ogre as I come off, and I'm hoping that you'll forgive me, and we can straighten this out' approach...

bribery would not be out of line...in MY world, you'd owe that cat a bottle of wine for not playing fair in the first place.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 10:30AM
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Sorry Chinacat, I disagree that sleepless 'created a lousy situation'. When you confront someone about something, you are basically putting them on edge and they can get angry. Maybe sleepless is a small-framed female and maybe her downstairs neighbor is a rather large male. This would certainly make for a very uncomfortable situation. And especially if sleepless had heard a rumor that his/her neighbor had a 'violent streak'.

I don't think 'sleepless' owes his/her neighbor anything. The neighbor started the problem with poor behavior - why should the neighbor be coddled? Why is it that when someone exhibits less-than-acceptable behavior, we should accept it and even possibly reward that behavior?

    Bookmark   October 4, 2004 at 1:33PM
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Chinacat: I did introduce myself to him when he moved in (First paragraph: The next morning I had a nice note from the neighbor introducing himself and asking to please call him if he ever got too loud again. I introduced myself and found out that he was a nice guy) almost a year ago.
Between that first meeting and what happened last weekend I might have spoken with him one other time about turning down his stereo/TV. I was always very polite, as was he. The only reason I turned to my apartment manager this weekend was 1) that's how he prefers it and 2) I felt that my neighbor's not opening the door last weekend and his continued playing of the music showed that he really didn't care how it affected me.
By the way, I did ask my neighbor about the poster before I left for work. He said he didn't know anything about it. I thought that was the end of a bad situation but about 15 minutes after I returned home that evening he left a note on my door apologizing for being loud, telling me he didn't want to get into a fight, to stop leaving appliances at his door, he didn't take my poster, to leave him alone and that i was bordering on harassment.
For the record, I've never left anything at his apartment. I wanted to clear this up, and have a witness should things turn ugly, so I asked the apartment manager to accompany me to the neighbor's door. It turns out that someone has been leaving things at his door for weeks now and he thought it was me because I'd complained about his noise level.
Am I still in the wrong?
Thanks for all the feedback. And yes, Mike_Pam, I am a petite female.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 12:24AM
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Sleepless, after reading more of your story, it confirms something that I have been saying for a long time. That is, when someone does something to you that you don't like, immediately confronting that person is not always the right thing to do, unless you can do it in an environment you feel safe in. You really don't know what is going on in their heads. In this case, your neighbor thought you were doing something that you were not (leaving stuff at his door). But you had no idea this was happening. Confronting him on your own could have been disastrous for you. Good luck and let us know if anything else happens.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 8:01AM
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first of all, your quote was

' I listened to his stereo/TV through my wood floors for about a week before asking the apartment manager to ask the new tenant to turn it down (it had gotten loud enough one night that I could croon along with the songs). The next morning I had a nice note from the neighbor introducing himself and asking to please call him if he ever got too loud again'

which rather clearly states that you called the manager without speaking to the neighbor- and didn't introduce yourself until after the incident.

2) I grew up in a house with a mother who stands all of five feet tall in heels- and a dad who's 6 foot and change. I have never once gotten the impression that being intimidated, or intimidating, has a bloody thing to do with either gender- or a person's size. if you were raised to believe in your own helplessness- I'd like to introduce you to a few people who might change your opinion.

3) to get back to the point- you let it go on for a week in the first place- rather than go down there the very first night, (and rather than 'confront' the poor guy) apologize for interrupting him, but explain that the floors are thin, and you are a light sleeper...

as a full grown female, I find the 'helpless' females a far more threatening figure than any unarmed male- because it's those girls who, rather than participate in a democratic and open discussion, and use the rules of negotiation and compromise- do things like call the manager, or the cops- without ever giving the other person a chance, and then running to everyone and complaining that no one wants to 'play fair' when you don't get your way.

your neighbor sounds like you've managed to scare him half out of his wits- and here you are complaining to us that he's not being sensitive to your needs.

if your peace and quiet is really so important to you- do this yourself. bake cookies. make nice. prove you deserve that extra x chromosome. and I bet you get better results than you're ever going to get by threats- which is what having the manager calling him about it is. you are putting his residence in jepoardy- do you even realize that?

women used to be able to shame whole communities into proper behavior simply by expecting it from them...confrontation was something that low-lifes did, not proper grownups. when did we lose this ability? or did it just become too much bother?

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 1:39PM
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Thanks Mike and Chinacat for all the input.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2004 at 6:54PM
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sleepless, in your defense I'll say:

Until I bought, I lived in apartments for 20 years. Not once did I go around and introduce myself to all my neighbors upon moving in nor did anyone ever once make a specific point of coming around to all the other units and introducing himself. I wouldn't have opened the door to a strange man standing there anyway.

The one time I had problems with noise in an apartment, I never dreamed of approaching the noisemakers directly in person. I did write them a nice note (which worked great) but there is NO WAY IN HELL I would have gone upstairs to an apartment where I knew at least two guys lived and voiced my complaints in person. I would have been a damn fool to have done so. Only stupid foolish people put themselves into unknown situations where they will have no control over what happens to them. There was no way I was going to go upstairs, alone, with no other apartments on that floor, to "talk" to two strange men about whom I had no idea of their temperments.

I guess many people on this board are fortunate to live in Candy Land or something. I live in a city where sensible people look out for themselves. And that means not approaching complete strangers and making complaints about their behavior. The rent for the OP's apartment has a fee built in because they have professional management to deal with problems. It's ridiculous not to take advantage of what the renter is paying for.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2004 at 10:07AM
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It is not your responsibility to go around and let people know when they're breaking the rules. If someone is not smart enough to keep noise to a minimum after 10:00, then the apartment manager should be the one to deal with them.

By the way, maybe the person who took your flower poster is the same person leaving the appliances at his door.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2004 at 9:01AM
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I'm with hrp3ks.

You have NO idea what you might be letting yourself in for when you knock on a neighbor's door. It can be even more dicey if they are disturbing the peace and you are there to complain. You could be yelled at. You could be attacked. You could be dragged into their unit and never heard from again.

That whole concept of being "neighborly" often has to go out the window when you're dealing with other personalities. Your first priority is to protect yourself. Do that by following the rules. Do that by calling your landlord, your management office or the police if your neighbors are breaking the rules and disturbing you.

But first and foremost, use your head. Use your common sense.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2004 at 10:57PM
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MJM says "You have NO idea what you might be letting yourself in for when you knock on a neighbor's door. It can be even more dicey if they are disturbing the peace and you are there to complain."

yes- but if you'd already met them when they were moving in (and a new tenant is like a hermit crab between shells) you WOULD know, and it wouldn't be a problem...

not to mention that they'd be more likely to practice consideration for someone who's been nice to them than a stranger...

maybe I do live in candyland- but I take that attitude with me, and whether I'm living in the vietnamese slums of oakland, or the Upper East Side of manhatten- or the south side of what used to be a thriving little industrial town, like I am now, I make it my business to know which neighbors belong to which of the feral children, who's got what breed of dog...who works days, who works nights, and especially who's moving in...

the sweat equity in helping a stranger carry a box of cups and saucers up a flight of stairs is repaid several times over- I burn calories, I build community, I inspire confidence in the building and identify myself as the local busybody, I gather intelligence about the tenants- and I spare myself all of this fraidy-cat 'you never know' propaganda...

predators smell fear, and lone critters are easy targets but tend to think twice about moving in and starting trouble where the herd is strong....

it's a simple fact, and one that's obviously been forgotten somewhere along the line.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2004 at 10:31AM
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