Downstairs neighbor being unreasonable w/ noise...

devoncaNovember 15, 2007

My downstairs neighbor has a problem with me - although they have never come up and spoken with me personally to address the problem (which I would have been more receptive to then them pounding on the ceiling).

I consider myself to be a very noise-conscious neighbor. My daughter (9 years old) and I don't wear shoes in the unit, I only vaccuum when I get home from work (6pm), I have a rug over the carpet in my living room, etc.

I don't listen to music past 8pm on weeknights and past 9pm on weekends. I listen to my music from my computer and the speakers aren't even on the floor.

Apparently, my neighbor has a problem with this. I have had my music on (not even that loud) on a Saturday afternoon and they would pound on the ceiling! Like I mentioned before, I NEVER listen to my music at unreasonable hours. And when I do have the music on, it's not like it's got a lot of bass!

I don't know what their deal is? They've never approached me on it, only pounded on the ceiling. They have done this too while my boyfriend and I are talking in my bedroom. However, when I can hear them (which I understand happens when living in apartments!!) I don't care and it's not like I stomp on the floor!

Anyways, the following is a letter I was thinking of slipping under their door, let me know what you think, please:

"It seems to me that we may have an issue between us regarding the level of noise you perceive as being excessive coming from my unit. I consider myself a noise-conscious neighbor and never play my music at night time (defined by California Civil Code Section 3482.1 4: "Nighttime means between the hours of 10 pm and 7 am"; per the Cal-Western Apartment Rules: "10pm until 9am are sleeping hours"). However, I do not think itÂs rude to play music during the daytime at a reasonable volume during sensible hours, on a weekend and/or weeknights before 8pm.

Since I donÂt have the ability to levitate and float across the floors, noises created by walking around my unit is unavoidable. My daughter and I cannot avoid walking around our unit and doing normal day-to-day activities. I will try to keep my voice down at night, but I find it impossible to avoid talking at all. I ask you to please extend the same courtesy to me.

I am asking that you please refrain from pounding on your ceiling as it startles my daughter and does nothing to solve the frustrations you may have.

According to California Noise Ordinance (10.16.020 Disturbing noises designated. Prior code § 4232; Ord. 24198. - attached), some unlawful noises consist of:

"5. The playing or operating of any radio, phonograph, orchestra or other musical device or instrument in a manner that is disturbing or unreasonably loud to a reasonable person outside the facility or unit from which the noise emanates; and

6. Disturbing or unreasonably loud shouting, screaming, wailing or other vocalization that is disturbing or unreasonably loud to a reasonable person outside the facility or unit from which the noise emanates."

Please let me know if you would like to discuss this matter further. I am open to suggestions you may have to compromise so we can all live peacefully and without resentment. I would rather be contacted either in person or by email."

Should I slip this letter under their door?

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I would take all the legaleese out of it. Don't refer to any ordinances - it is unnecessary.

I wrote a very similar letter to my neighbor. i think the text of it is on this forum somewhere.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2007 at 9:55PM
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I would not send anything, but if the pounding bothers you, tell your landlord or super. Unless you're not being truthful here about noise volume, etc., you're doing nothing wrong, and therefore responding to what's basically rudeness (rather than a proper face to face approach) from your neighbour won't work anyway. They're so bothered by your living noises that they can't be bothered to come and talk to you? But you're going all defensive about it and committing yourself to paper? Don't! If you were seriously overstepping boundaries your landlord would have been told by those people and come and told you to stop, but hasn't, so stop feeling you need to do anything (except maybe to pound back!), plus such things never work anyhow, and could even exacerbate the problem. In fact no one has yet to accuse you of anything and defending yourself against what COULD be someone playing raquetball on the ceiling :-) will make you look as if you're guilty of something.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 4:37AM
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I handled something similar once (no ladlord, but a co-op, and I went to the board president, who really pretty much runs the building)

I called the board president and said, "I want to be sure I wasn't breaking any rules--I needed to vacuum and started to do it at 7pm on Saturday, and the downstairs neighbor started banging on the ceiling. Is there a rule I didn't know about, or should I be doing something different?"

By approaching her first, and by framing it the way I did--"I want to be a good neighbor, and follow the rules, and here's the unreasonable thing my neighbor did, so what should I do next?" I made him look bad.

I wouldn't write to them, esp. not with all the legalese. i think Lucy is right--they're unreasonable now; they won't suddenly be reasonable because you wrote them.

His banging on the ceiling is in the same category as him playing his stereo too loud--worse, actually, bcs it's deliberate--so make a formal noise complaint against him.

Just start the conversation w/ the landlord not as though you are complaining, but that you are worried--you do all these things to mitigate the noise, and yet the things you do that seem reasonable, your neighbor pounds on your ceiling. Is there a rule you are breaking? What should be done? Honestly, you don't know how much more quiet you can be--it seems you ought to be able to play music in the middle of the day, loud enough to hear it about 6 feet away from the speaker. And in fact, you DO hear him often, but you're not banging on the floor. What's to be done?

    Bookmark   November 16, 2007 at 4:34PM
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Everyone - thanks so much for your input. Now that I think about it, I should take the approach that talley suggested - email my LL and ask him if I'm doing anything wrong.

The letter is in the bin now! Thanks again, everyone!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 3:51AM
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You know, if you do what you propose, you're almost guaranteeing a negative answer, just because people feel compelled to give an answer and rarely just say things are ok given the chance to criticize. In fact, you're going to open yourselves a big can of worms I think, and until the landlord comes to you, would not put myself in the position of asking for trouble. But that's just my experience talking.

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 5:32AM
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I agree,

Approach the LL and express your concerns. Make your neighbors look bad. Frankly their behavior is barbaric! Always take the high road and you will come out the winner. You are doing nothing wrong and your downstairs neighbors obviously have no clue about how sound does come through in an apt.

If you approach the LL and tell him of your concerns and that you want to live in harmoney but the people underneath you are making YOU and your daughter miserable then they will look bad and they have no right to pound on their ceiling, that is just childish.

Your LL may want to speak to them because they could be making dents in the ceiling from banging on it and it could be taken as a threatening move............

The letter you wrote was good but I think it will just escalate the situation.

Best wishes and let us know what happens!

    Bookmark   November 17, 2007 at 9:58AM
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I was just trying to blow some steam off about this same problem when I found this thread. We just moved into our apartment 2 weeks ago and (without our knowledge) our downstairs neighbors called the office the first 3 days to complain about noise ...

um HELLO?? we are MOVING IN!! You know, with furniture and boxes. I mean, seriously.

Then, the following weekend, one of them did come up and ask us to keep it down. I appreciated that she came up in person, but it was 4pm in the afternoon, and we were just hanging out, chatting with the TV on (not loudly) in the background. We were really confused as to how what we were doing could possibly be bothering anybody.

Apparently between then and now they have called the office a second time, and Monday night at 10:15 they banged on the ceiling because we were both walking in and out of the office ... because we were WORKING on some things! Not stomping, just moving ourselves from one room to another and neither of us is obese or were wearing shoes. I sing in the Dallas Symphony Chorus, so excuse me if I get home after 10pm on Mondays.

So the office manager calls us, and lets us know that the neighbors complained but she got the neighbors to agree that they have never heard any music or television sounds ... have simply been complaining of "living noises"


I'm baffled by their unreasonable expectations and have been really upset and stressed by this. A belated thanks for the advice on this thread. We're going to talk to the office manager today.

P.S. I can hear the upstairs neighbors "living noises" sometimes and I just deal with it. Buy earplugs if you're sensitive. Or maybe DON'T live in an apartment building ... or request the top floor most people prefer the lower floors anyhow. What is wrong with people?

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 1:02PM
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How well is your building constructed? In some poorly-constructed buildings, just the act of simple walking may make it seem to others that you're stomping. These people do sound very unreasonable, but if you felt comfortable enough to approach them, maybe one of you could stay upstairs and walk and the other one could go in the apartment downstairs just to hear what it sounds like.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2008 at 2:25AM
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My neighbour is becoming unreasonable, one morning I found a handwrite letter that said last night at 1am I'm banging something until woke his 7 month old son, he knew it from the baby monitor. And afterwards several bangs woke him and his wife at 2.45.. We were just relax around the couch watching tv quitely and walk around our condo like get snacks from the refrige, heating food in microwave or took shower, we are not banging at all,.. after that he threatened us on the letter that he will sue us over to failing the shareholder agreement that we have, we live in the building almost 15 years, never have any complaints at all from downstair neighbours, until 2 years ago they moved in, a just married young couple. We don't really care coz we think we are not loud or did anything what they said, but the last letter sounds like a threat. How I suppose to handle this neighbour?

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 1:42PM
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i have an issue with my neighbor shes called the police on me twice for a noise complaint once when the Chicago Blackhawks won the stanley cup ( im sorry for you know being excited) & when i was sleeping. Shes loud on occasion too it's now nearly 1 am & i can hear her tv & her laughing rather obnoxiously. What should i do?Call the police?

    Bookmark   March 6, 2011 at 2:08AM
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