Can my downstairs neighbor sue me for walking?

pt23November 25, 2007

I just recently bought my first condo and from day one my downstairs neighbor, who also owns his unit, has complained about the noise we're generating. It has been a little over a year and after several letters and meetings we have not been able to resolve the issue and I think he is getting ready to take legal action.

My unit is a 2bd, 2bath on the 3rd floor. The place has hardwood/laminate flooring and I do understand that it can be loud, however I feel they are being unreasonable. Their first complaint was the day we moved in, and although it was late (maybe 12:30 am) we were actually done moving hours ago and just walking around and settling in, not moving furniture or anything. Like Seneca's post, I immediately had a sinking feeling this was a bad sign. Since then they've complained about us numerous times either directly to us or through the HOA Board or complex management company. However, since no one else is complaining about us, the HOA and mgt co. said there's nothing they can do about issues solely between two parties.

I truly do not want to be the noisy neighbor, but I think I've done all I can. We've bought large area rugs for the living room, hallway, and masterbedroom. I'd even consider buying more carpeting, but I recently went back to school and have limited funds. We do not wear shoes in the unit and we don't have any pets or kids. I am a grad student and my other roommates have regular full-time jobs. They generally go to bed by 10:30pm, while I stay up studying. We do not listen to music or tv loudly or have ever had any parties. We know not to do noisy chores too early or late. The neighbor's complaints aren't even about the noise during those sensitive late night/early morning hours. Their latest complaint was about "excesssive, loud walking between 6-8:15 pm." After 10pm I try really hard to be quiet and practically walk on my tippytoes. Actually, except for that first day moving in, none of their complaints have been regarding anything after 10pm.

I am 5'1, about 113 lbs and do not consider myself a stomper or heavy walker. I've lived in apartments for the past 10 years, the last 5+ of which was in hardwood floor units above others and have never had a noise complaint. I'm positive I'm not walking any differently than I have in these other places. My other roommates are also not particularly heavy walkers and have all have plenty of experience living in apartments. I really think my situation now is a combination of poor building insulation and unreasonable expectations by my downstairs neighbors. I use to live in an old complex under a unit with hardwood floors and I could hear the person above me walking, but I just accepted that as part of apartmenting living.

Another significant issue is that my unit is the only one in the complex of 20 units with laminate flooring. The floors were put in by the previous owners, but one of my neighbors biggest points is that he claims he never had problems with the previous people who lived in my unit and walked on the same floors. However, I know that he had lots of problems with the previous owners and use to constantly complain about their 2 year old who cried and ran around as kids sometimes do. He stresses though that he never had problems with the adults walking. But I think if I had a kid running and screaming throughout my unit he wouldn't hear my foot steps either. Essentially he thinks we should be more consious of our walking, but I don't think I should feel terrified to move about in my own home, especially since I've added some carpeting, don't wear shoes, and try harder to be quiet at night. My neighbor just doesn't even want to ever hear us walking and claims it causes his girlfriend, who also lives there, migraines. I should also add that these people are about 30-40 yrs old, not elderly or anything.

My neighbor and I have exchanged many heated letters, had meetings where he came to see us walking and we went down to hear the noise we were making, etc. I even suggested mediation, but he said he's "considering all his options."

At this point I've really had it with the harrassment and think maybe I should take some action first. I'm a pretty patient, cooperative person, but there's only so much I can take. From day one, he's made me feel uncomfortable to be here. After living in aparments since I graduated from high school 10 years ago I've never had neighbor issues before this. I'd even consider moving, except I just bought the place last year and with the current real estate market I don't think I can afford to.

I've read a lot of the posts here from people in situations similar and I really sympathize with you guys. Does anyone have any advice on what I should do and what my options are if my neighbor does sue me? Can he really sue me for walking? While I'm not worried that I've done anything wrong, I do worry about the cost and time that it would take to defend myself. Or is there some way my neighbor can force me to install carpeting? Did anyone's noise issues get to the point of legal action and if so what were your experiences? I live in California.

Thank you!

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Hi. Wow, this guy sounds like a professional pain and is looking for an excuse to get a settlement in his favor (I wonder how many other people he's sued). He's being ridiculous actually - 6 pm? That's often the busiest and noisiest time of day for a lot of people. The only thing that you did mention that could be a valid problem would be the laminate flooring - it can be annoying, but even then, you didn't install it, and not everyone has money to replace it just because someone complains (what are the chances the condo's 'emergency' fund would help out - seeing as it's causing such a ruckus) and is the only unit with the floors? Anyhow, you need to get a grip too and not let him intimidate you (6 pm?). Stop saying 'how high' every time he says 'jump' and realize no court would award him anything for his silly complaints - plus get some backing on your side, like testimonials from previous neighbours, and/or employers, etc. that you are a reasonable person. He's getting his kicks from watching you react when he attacks, so stop giving him the satisfaction.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 4:57AM
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So far all you have said is that "you think" he will take legal action. What are you basing this on? It does not sound like you understand what "sue" means.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 10:40AM
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Thank you for the responses.
lucy- your support and encourgement is really appreciated. this issue has really left me completely stressed out. I'm having hard time concentrating when I should be studyig and am just sad to be in this situation. Unfortunately, I don't think our HOA would get involved since it is pretty strapped for cash itself. The complex is very small and already has to raise dues next year to pay for some needed major improvments.
And bud_wi is right, I don't really understand what "sue" means, which is why I'm posing the question here of what possible ramifications there could be from my situation. While I don't know what my neighbor plans to do, in his last communication he said something to the effect of "this will the last time I will notify you of my complaint..." which seems like a thinly veiled threat. (I asked him what he meant, but he didn't respond.) In addition if you see his letters he seems to be trying to keep some kind of record, documenting his every complaint and making me look unresponsive. I have no idea what he's planning to do, but I don't want to be blindsided, which is why I'm asking what are some of the actions, legal or otherwise, he could do?
From my basic internet reserach and limited legal knowlege, it appears that neighbors "sue" each other all the time for noise, citing loss of peace and quiet enjoyment, etc. It seems the most likely venue would be smalls claims court, but I think the limit in CA is $5,000. I've also read about noise complaints in civil court with asking damages as high as $150,000 - $700,000. However, if anyone else has a more informed explaination of what legal actions are possible I would be more than welcome to hear it.

    Bookmark   November 26, 2007 at 9:53PM
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Well, I've rarely heard of anyone going to court over your (his) problem - it would be far more likely that a REAL noise nuisance in a larger (commercial) setting could be addressed. Millions of people are annoyed by up or down neighbours and it's just part of apt. life! It's not as if he can say he's financially 'damaged' by your living a reasonable and considerate life that he's obviously oversensitive about (let him go buy a house!), and courts don't need nuisance claims. If anything, you should think about suing him for harrassment! You need to get your association involved though - find out for instance if he's in the habit of complaining, whether he threatens other neighbours, etc. etc. and get their advice (if not outright support) on dealing with him. Don't get all defensive - you're doing nothing wrong.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 5:47AM
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You have read about noise complaints asking damages of $150,000 to $700,000? Have you read about settlements or judgements in that range? I can't imagine it and I am a lawyer in California. Sure he can sue you for anything--getting a judgment in his favor is another thing entirely! I wouldn't lose any sleep about it. I sure would keep his letters because they will show he is a pain. Make sure your letters say "I'm sorry we are attempting to do everything we can to be quiet" I wouldn't say anything more than that, and I wouldn't really respond much.
This is a problem with condos--I would never live in one of them. There isn't much you can do about it and frankly there isn't much he can do unless you were running a motorcycle upstairs. I agree with Lucy, the noise problems in court are in a commercial setting or involve airport noise.

    Bookmark   November 27, 2007 at 6:46PM
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Holy cow, this guy is a chronic complainer, just has to be. You sound far to articulate to be lying or exaggerating this mess.

Perhaps this is why your unit was for sale, huh? What a mess.

First of all you need to stop reacting to him. That is what he is doing it for, to get you to react and he is thereby getting the upper hand. As soon as you responded to him with some kind of fear of him, he had the ball in his court.

You need to get legal aid involved and order a letter of no contact. There is NOTHING he can do to you for walking. My gosh, this guy needs a serious life!

My guess is if you did some checking around he has run off someone before or at least annoyed the heck out of them.

Do as Lucy suggested, get letters from former landlords stating that you were a model resident, show proof of your long term, good standing, rental history and there is your proof that you didn't just move in and decide to become as wildly stomping, crazy person. Nobody will buy it.

I am really sorry this has happened to you. It is the scariest thing about living upstairs. I moved in above a guy years and years ago and he made my life hell from day one........saying noise was going on when I wasn't even there, it was crazy. I transferred to another unit over it, but it put me off from ever living upstairs again.

Let us know what happens!

best of luck

    Bookmark   November 28, 2007 at 2:44PM
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Hi PT - has it gotten any better? Anything else happen this week?

This guy sounds totally crazy. I know you read my posts about my situation from last year. Luckily my board was very supportive of me and really believed my downstairs neighbor was the crazy one for various reasons including that she was a 'known complainer'. When I turned the tables on her and let her know that what she was doing was harrassing *me* (in writing) and sent a copy of that letter to the board and to the managing agent, things cleared up pretty well.

I am not sure what he can do to you in terms of suing. I have heard that anyone can sue anyone else for anything at all, but the question is whether the person suing will win or not. In his case, perhaps he can sue you (can you do some online research on small claims cases?) but I can't imagine he could ever win.

Can you imaging the precedent set by this? If all the downstairs neighbors in the world could sue their upstairs neighbors (and win) for simply walking around in socks, the downstairs dwellers of the world would be very rich people indeed! And our court systems would be overwhelmed.

You have gone above and beyond the call of duty, from what I can see. The only other thing I can think of is that you could make sure you have the thick foam pads under your rugs. This makes alot of difference and may make you feel more comfortable walking around as well. Though if you are short on cash, then maybe only do this if the HOA forces you to. Do you have an 80% carpeting rule in your regulations? We do. And this is enforced only when there is a complaint.

You mentioned that the HOA basically thinks it's an issue between him and you and they don't want to hear about it any more. This is good. It means they are probably just as sick of hearing him complain as you are. His complaining to you *is* harassment at this point, and you should treat it as such. The HOA won't hear his complaints and you shouldn't either. If he comes up to complain, don't let him in. Use caller ID if he has your phone number and don't answer the phone.

If he's documenting stuff about you, then you document things about him - all the times he is coming to bother you about nothing. I would let him know that you consider him to be harassing you. And let him know you are keeping track.

And most of all, please try to live normally in your space. Take it from me. I have tried everything to help myself get over this psychological problem my neighbor created in me. One thing that helps is to really understand that the problem is inside them, not you. And in fact, if you live your life normally and they can't handle it, maybe it will force *them* to move. They should be selling their condo, not you, and if your walking around normally will get them to that point faster, then walk around normally.

fyi, a little update on my situation: my neighbor just put her unit on the market!! I think she is serious this time. She had it on the market once before but I don't believe she really wanted to move. This time she had the place professionally painted and the real estate agent took professional looking photos (you know the kind where they make you get rid of 80% of your clutter before they do the photo shoot). Plus it's advertised in a newspaper that is known to have expensive advertising rates.

And last but not least, my bf (jokingly) asked to give him one week -- just one!! in my apartment and he would guarantee that my downstairs neigbhor would move by the end of the week. Other people had jokingly suggested golf shoes and pogo sticks, but not my bf. His approach was going to be subtle, barely detectable but psychologically tormenting. I don't know exactly what he had in mind but I am imagining it to be something like Chinese water torture, except I think he planned to stay awake all night for week just tapping his fingers on the ceiling above her bed. Of course he was saying these things just to make me laugh (I think!) but also I think it's good to remember that it wouldn't be so bad if this guy would just sell and move out.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 12:18AM
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Hope it works out for ya! Does ur condo assoc have anything against hardwood (laminate) flooring? Many do. We were thinking of putting in laminate, but decided against it because of the possibility it could be louder and cause friction between the down stairs owner. Not worth the hassle. And our condo assoc doesn't have any rules regarding flooring type. Good luck

    Bookmark   December 1, 2007 at 8:20AM
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hi everyone. only update this week is that the neighbor got back to me about my offer to go through mediation. he said that he believed i had all the facts and that mediation would not be necessary. whatever that means.
even though, i think i've done all i can reasonably do, the worse part is how these complaints make you feel so uncomfortable in your own home. they are trying to make me feel bad by telling me that the people before us never bothered them, but we do, so we must be doing something wrong. but what obligation do i have to walk like people i don't even know? who knows what their lives or schedules were like? and there's no way they are being completely honest. i mean, i know they constantly complained about the noise from the previous owner's child. i really believe if it isn't one thing, it will be another with these people. it just would be very difficult to walk around here without making some noise. i wish i could move out and my neighbors could experience other people living here. we already practically tiptoe around. i'd guarantee you anyone else would be as loud if not louder than we are! i wish my neighbors would realize that it's not something we're doing wrong, but that the floors are not well insulated. i just hate that he's blaming us for our behavior.

thanks for you advice seneca! i did read your previous post and i totally empathized with your situation. i really have to try to take your advice about not blaming myself and letting them ruin my enjoyment of my property. what great news about your neighbor! i hope you get a new neighbor that is reasonable. people who live below others, but can't stand the noise of their normal, everyday living are really ruining condo living for everyone else. maybe i should have moved to a lower level because i'm very tolerant of everyday living noise. i lived on the ground floor where i could hear every step the person above me took. and she was heavy. it sounded like there was constantly furniture being dragged around. even late at night. but i just never would have dreamed of telling her to walk softer! that is such a bizare concept to me.

the saddest part about this experience for me is that i never wanted a single family home before. i love urban environments and believe that higher density living is a more efficient use of land and lessens dependence on cars, etc. but this experience has really made me understand now why people flee to the suburbs for that big house surrounded by a big lot that puts a lot of distance between you and your neighbors.
another lesson from this experience is that our HOA doesn't have any rules about minimum carpeting or padding. but if they did, the prior owners probably would not have been able to install floors with such bad insulation. i heard that many condos have rules about minimum hardwood/laminate floor pad requirements. i wish our HOA had had something because then maybe i wouldnt be in this mess. but i really don't know enough about floors and padding to even think about that when i was looking for condos. i guess sometimes you learn things the hard way.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 2:22AM
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hi PT,
Of course I know exactly how you feel. I think you are focusing on the right things, though I think also that if you can, you should stop tiptoeing around. It's time to be angry with *them* for ruining your quality of life. Try to stop focusing on how your walking is making them feel, because I believe you are truly right- there are many many other people in the world who might live above them who would be significantly more noisy and less considertae than you.

One time I had my 6'2" 15 year old nephew come over. Talk about heavy and oblivious! He stomped around the place like an elephant. That's just how he walks, and at 15, I don't think anyone is going to get him to walk more lightly. Same thing with toddlers. So just try to focus on how lucky your neighbors are to have you living above them and not toddlers and 15 year olds.

I think in time maybe you will see how unreasonable they are being -- or just sensitive -- and that they are not cut out for apartment living. However, I still have not gotten over this issue myself (though it has gotten a little better) and I still dream of living in a first floor unit, or a building with concrete floors or a house.

However, I would caution you to imagine all the millions of problems you could have in other places. Nothing is perfect. Many people in houses also have noisy neighbors who live close enough to make problems with barking dogs and lawnmowers. My mother spent a large portion of her life being upset with all the noise from the traffic on our busy street (which was not a busy street when my parents originally bought the house).

Also with house you have to do all the maintenance yourself, and if you are single, I imagine it can be pretty damn lonely. I'm sure the thought of no neighbors is enticing right now, but in fact living in a building with other people can make you feel alot less lonely (if you are prone to that).

Hang in there. I think it will get better.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 9:23AM
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I can't help at all with a potential lawsuit. But I do think that this guy is bullying you. I don't like bullies.

I agree with all those who said to document every contact you have with him. Did he send his answer to the mediation in writing? If so, save it. If not, either email him or send him a letter:

"Dear X, This letter/email is to confirm that I have offered to go to mediation with you in an attempt to come to a mutually agreeable solution to our joint problem of poorly insulated floor and ceiling. I'm sorry that you have rejected this option for finding a solution to this problem. Sincerely, [you]. "

Then send it to him, but keep a copy for yourself. If this ever does hit a courtroom, you need proof other than he said/she said that you did try to work out an amicable agreement.

Any time you have written communication from him, save it. Any time you have spoken communication from him, write up an account of it and send it to him. If he does not reply with changes, you now have proof that he agrees with what you wrote. Document every time you have contact, even if it is just his banging on his ceiling.

The other think I would do is to stop re-acting to everything he does and start being pro-active. Next time he complains, ask him what he is doing to solve your common problem. Is he using earplugs? a white noise machine? Has he looked into soundproofing his ceiling? His most likely response is going to be that he shouldn't have to spend money/change his habits because of your noise. You can come right back at him and explain that you *have* spent money on the carpets and you *have* changed your habits (walking on tiptoes) and it is time he showed some good will/good faith and did something on his part. Sometimes standing up to a bully will make them back down very quickly.

Keep referring to this as your common problem. Do not let him continue to make the problem yours alone. He and his GF are the ones with supersensitive hearing. I suspect they would complain about anyone living above them. They should have purchased a top floor unit. They do not have the right to make your life miserable just because you chose to live in your home.

I hope this works out for the best for you.

    Bookmark   December 2, 2007 at 1:04PM
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get some hard soled shoes, and a basket ball. start at 11:00 p.m. and give him a real reason to complain.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2007 at 7:19PM
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Has it occurred to you that he backed out of a mediation 'opportunity' because he knows he doesn't really have a leg to stand on (no pun intended!)? Reminds me of my ex - lots of bluster, no delivery!

    Bookmark   December 25, 2007 at 5:27AM
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I have to agree with Lucy. It sounds like he wants things to go his way but that he does not want to have to back up his threats.

Good luck. And like everyone else is saying... Just live your life. If he doesn't like it...well, the ball is in his court now.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2007 at 5:06PM
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My neighbor called the cops to our unit last night to complain that we were "walking too loud." We were just relaxing in our place, not parties or anything. Two friends from out of town were staying with me, but we were out all day and just came home around 10 pm and settling in, watching TV, etc. The policeman was nice enough and seemed to just be doing his job as a messenger, but it was a really awful and embarrassing experience, especially when I had guests over and we were not doing anything outside of ordinary living.

Since my last posts over a year ago, we've had to deal with random complaints from these neighbors from hell, but this is the first time they've called the police. I think it's because we generally try to be super conscious about how we walk and have spoiled them. As soon as other people come over who are not use to tiptoeing around, they call the cops. It just proves to me that it is not me and that anyone living here would bother them. I did warn my friends before they came here that we have laminate flooring and our neighbors are sensitive, but I can't force them to tiptoe! They're my friends and were only staying for 2 nights. Now they feel bad that they've caused me problems and I feel like I can't have people over without having a 1 hour training session on how to walk. Isn't that awful?
Any advice for dealing with this? I feel like I should stop trying to walk softer, especially if they are gong to call the cops anytime anyone else comes over and walks normally (not stomping).

    Bookmark   June 6, 2009 at 2:31PM
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Sounds like most of the people who commented on this thread have never had an upstairs neighbor who is so completely ignorant that you'd just like to kill them! Well, I have that problem right now but thank goodness I'm out of here in a few weeks! It's almost 2am, & just a few minutes ago, my ass**** upstairs neighbors just slammed something to their kitchen floor for no reason! I'm being very quiet, like always, so there is no reason for this crap other than harassment! This stuff goes on constantly & I'm sick to death of it & of them! I am so pissed off & tired from lack of sleep that I can't even think straight. I hope the people who have never had to live through this hell think before you speak next time! It's certainly no fun being a downstairs neighbor who has to put up with noisy jerks upstairs!

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 2:44AM
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PT, the problem I see with your post is that it's been a year and a half and you are STILL tiptoeing!! It's time to live like a normal person. When your friends come over, I would not advise them in advance about any situation, however you could tell them that you prefer they take their shoes off.

I lived through your exact situation with a neighbor below me complaining about my walking - even though like you, I was extremely considerate and felt that as neighbors go, I was the most considerate neighbor she could ever hope to have. The thought of her complaints never left my mind and every time a floorboard squeaked beneath my foot I would imagine her below me, just waiting for any sound. It is no way to live.

I actually enjoyed it when friends came over because it allowed me to see how normal people behave in apartments. Normal people do NOT tiptoe. One time I subletted to a friend for a few months, and I knew he was the type not to really care if the downstairs neighbor pounded on the ceiling. I advised him that he might hear this noise from her sometimes and he assured me that he would just ignore it. In the end he did report that one time he had been getting ready for work at 6am and had been opening dresser drawers and she had started pounding. People have to live!!

In some ways maybe it's good that she called the cops AND that she admitted the reason she called because you were "walking too loud." Any reasonable person, or reasonable police officer, would see that the person who is being harassed is you.

It may be time to just tell yourself that this is your apartment, that as a human you do not have the capacity to float, and that it's time for you to start ignoring the completely unreasonable complaints of someone who should not be living in a multi-unit building beneath anyone else.

Do you think it would help to bring this situation to the attention of the board of the condo? I would also keep a log of her complaints.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 11:18AM
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Actually, I have lived below an upstairs neighbor that was pretty noisy. I think I'm more noise tolerant than most people and I never complained. I'm use to living in big cities, near major streets and hearing people and motorcycles go by, etc.
Am I wrong to believe that my neighbor just needs to suck it up or move? Or is it my responsibility to get more carpeting, pads, etc.? We already have big area rugs in the major rooms and hallway. I am not trying to be a bad neighbor, on the contrary I think I've tried really hard to be considerate, yet they still feel the need to call the cops on us. I just wish there was a solution to this annoying ongoing problem.

    Bookmark   June 7, 2009 at 4:38PM
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pt23, dont be loud on purpose but live your life.

You have lived there since November 2007 and the neighbors called the police for the first time at "around 10 pm" last Friday.

My guess is the noise was more than you think it was for the neighbor to all of sudden call the police when they have never called the police before.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 3:19PM
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We're never loud on purpose. While this was the first time the neighbors called the police, they complained about the walking noise from the first day I moved in. First day! And they told the police that after numerous attempts to notify us about the noise they felt the need to contact the police. The one thing that was different that night was that I had 2 friends over, but we were just watching tv, getting ready to sleep after a day out. My friends probably walk a little louder because they are not use to it, but what am I suppose to do about that? They were only here 2 nights. I had already told them to be mindful when they walk. Am I not suppose to have people over unless their walk meets with my neighbor's approval? What exactly could I have done different?
I wish there was a way to make them understand that we're not trying to be loud. I'd challenge them to ask anyone to walk around in here and not register their complaint.

    Bookmark   June 8, 2009 at 9:43PM
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You bought a condo, to me this is a great thing, it's your home and you own it. There is no reason why you can't be comfortable in it.

Your neighbor is an idiot, and the fact of the matter is that he is complaining for no reason. In the condo life you will hear your neighbor, that's just to way it is. If he doesn't like it, he can move.

Stop tippy-toeing around, walk like the proud person you should be inside of the home you bought for yourself. Don't be purposely loud, but live your life.

The time has come to tell him to go -blank- himself at any future complaints.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2009 at 10:44PM
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PT seems as if you are in a bad situation, and I can truly understand both sides of the story. Many people on here say your neighbor is an idiot for complaining but everyone has a basic right to peace and should be able to live in their homes peacefully without constant daily disruption. And I understand that you are doing the best you can to be quiet, but in your case your best is just not enough. Now with that being said you have to be able to live unrestricted in your home to be able to live a normal life. Both of you have rights in this situation and you have to force the neighbor somehow to agree on a solution. The unfortunate thing is that he can sue you and with enough proof that you are disrupting his peace and enjoyment of property he could have you ordered to completely stop the noise by replacing the floors and installing soundproofing material and also receive monetary damages. Proof is the name of the game and no matter how many people have said he is crazy, an idiot etc. If he proves his case he will win. So you need to nip this in the bud before it gets into court. Just remember everyone is different some people can deal with noise and others cant but no one should be forced to listen to constant disruption in their homes. Also if you can attempt to quiet the noise by putting down carpet and he still takes you to court the judge may look upon that favorably saying that you did at least try to quiet the noise.
Also if you move you may want to disclose to your potential home buyer that there is a dispute between you and your neighbor. While I know you may think I have lost my mind for saying that just remember if you do not disclose this they may sue you for not telling them about this issue especially since there is a paper trail of your neighbor complaining. Why donÂt you do some research and seek legal counsel so you can fully understand your situation from a legal standpoint. I think the most important thing to remember is when you buy a home you assume all responsibility regardless of whether you were responsible for putting the problem there or not. And the neighbor has every right to complain and you are obligated to correct it if it is in fact a nuisance. And remember if a judge orders you to solve the problem by putting down carpet and maybe soundproofing the floor, they will not care if you have the money or not they will still expect for you to bring your place in compliance with the order within the given time. So please for your sake try to resolve this before he files a lawsuit. In the meantime I would highly suggest you read a few cases regarding neighbor disputes similar to yours to see what some of the judgments have been. When you are in a situation like you are in knowledge is the key. Do as much research as you can on neighbor disputes particularly regarding noise complaints.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2009 at 12:20AM
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plc1976 - i appreciate your perspective, although of course it's not what i want to hear. You did bring up some things I don't understand. Why would I be obligated to disclose the dispute with my neighbor? If your reasoning is true, I should be able to sue the previous owner since I know they had a lot of problems with these same neighbors. And they were the ones who installed the hardwood floors. I don't think people should be responsible for bad neighbors, especially since it is totally out of their control. If someone sold a house where there was a next door neighbor that frequently had loud parties, could they be sued for not disclosing the problem with the neighbor? What if the neighbor moved?

I think the real problem is that our condo does not have any regulations surrounding the installation of hardwood/laminate flooring. Many have minimum noise insulation requirements, but we do not. I wish we did because then the previous owners would have had to install better insulated floors. That being said, I have done some legal research, although I don't have the funds to retain a lawyer, and it seems like if his complaint is about "everyday living noise" such as walking, cooking, cleaning, etc. then his problem is with the building itself and it is not anyone's personal responsibility to fix it. My understanding is that he would have to prove some negligence on our part. Again, I've already put significant floor covering in our place and do not wear shoes inside.
Your post is really depressing because it seems like you think I'm obligated to cater to these people and could somehow be held responsible for significant damages (to redo the floors!), when I've lived in hardwood floors above others in various apartments/condos without one single complaint. If what you're saying is true, I should really look into sueing the previous owners.

    Bookmark   June 25, 2009 at 11:08PM
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"plc1976 - i appreciate your perspective, although of course it's not what i want to hear"

You're right not to want to hear what he has to say, because he is WRONG. He is especially wrong when he says "but in your case your best is just not enough".

You've done more than you should have to accommodate your neighbor, WAY more than most people would have done. It's time to start living your life the way you choose. Your neighbor is apparently complaining about the tiniest of noises, so he can't be pleased, and he shouldn't be. He needs to move, that is all there is to it.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 5:12PM
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"Your post is really depressing because it seems like you think I'm obligated to cater to these people and could somehow be held responsible for significant damages (to redo the floors!),"

Don't feel bad, his post is dead wrong. He is apparently one of those old fools who buy a condo but expect absolute silence. It's not going to happen.

As I type this I just head my neighbor, when I'm done typing I am going to put some music on that my neighbor might be able to hear. That's just the way it is when you live in a condo, there will always be noise. If you mind the noise, MOVE.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2009 at 5:17PM
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I dont understand. WHy dont you sue him for harassment? You speak about peaceful living etc..etc...well what about your peace? your enjoyment to your life? He's not giving you that and its time you sued him to shut him up.
Police are called for loud disturbances after 11pm...any time before is considered non called for. So this guy is just being a real J*rk and he's bullying you.
I lived in the basement and my neighbours upstairs were horrible. I never fact i got use to the noise , what pissed me off is when the hubby would come home at 2 am and stomp his way i got ear plugs.
THis guy is bullying you about. If your ina condo, i suggest you complain about him to the board. Cause if you turn around and sell, the next person is going to get the same thing. You need to stand your ground. SUe him for harassment and send him letters to stop his calls, stop his petty arguements. And if he doesn't like the noise...tell him to move.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2009 at 1:13PM
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organic_maria makes a very good point, if this is continuing this long while you're walking on eggshells, it could be viewed as harassment.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 8:43AM
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pt23, my hunch is that, since your first post was well over a year ago, that the downstairs people aren't going to sue you. They tried that as a threat, but perhaps they have decided that it won't work.

As long as your guests had their shoes off, you were fine. It's not your fault that the building is not soundproof.

If the police show up again, turn the situation around. Ask the police, while they are at your door, what you can do to stop the harassment from downstairs. See if they have any suggestions to offer.

If you want to go the extra step, you could try getting some rug pads to go under your area rugs. A good carpet store will have different thicknesses of rug pads and can help you find the best one for your needs. Then put the padding under one rug. A week or so later, ask the downstairs neighbors if they have noticed a difference in noise reduction. If they say no, well, you tried. If they say yes, you can, if you want and can afford it, add padding under the rest of the rugs bit by bit.

At one time, I lived over people who became more and more demanding about the noise that I generated just by living in my apartment. First, they asked that I not vacuum before noon on the weekends. Okay, that's reasonable if they like to sleep in, so I agreed. But then, they asked me not to vacuum after work on weekdays. And started complaining about the noise of my walking. And they complained to the landlady.

I finally had to explain that I could not arrive home from work at 7 pm, levitate to my bed and remain there until I left for work at 7:30 am. I needed to walk around, use the bathroom, etc. The real problem was squeaky floorboards in a old building, which I could do nothing to fix. The landlady had some options to fix the squeaking, but she chose not to do any of them.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2009 at 9:29AM
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Fotostat, please don't get yourself into some serious legal trouble by being an inconsiderate neighbor. You keep saying I am wrong but you never give PT any valid facts or advice or say anything to counter what I stated in my post. If you are going to say someone is wrong then tell them why.
PT I am sorry things are depressing for you. But you have to understand what your rights are in this case and what you neighbors rights are. We can give our own opinions all day long but the law is the law and its best that you understand it so you protect yourself from any possible lawsuits. And PT you could possibly have a case against the people who sold you the condo. But you must be able to prove your case. And you have to ask yourself is it worth it. You should really consider getting some legal help. Get a mediator or something to try to work out this issue with your neighbor. Sitting there with your head down everyday about this won't change a thing. You need to be proactive before its too late. Act before your neighbor does.

    Bookmark   July 23, 2009 at 9:54PM
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plc1976, you can't prove a negative. What do you want me to do, show you each and every civil dispute ever claimed to display how no one ever won when suing someone else for making normal noises?

Is this hard for you to understand that YOU are in the position to prove your side, that people have won over their neighbor making small noises.

So go ahead, prove your point or STFU.

And we don't want to see one fluke case, we want to see dozens if not hundreds.

Until then, stop giving bad advice. As I said earlier, you're just one of those crotchety old men who complains when his neighbor uses the bathroom after 10PM.

    Bookmark   July 29, 2009 at 6:49PM
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What a nightmare. I've lived below people and above people and have to say I prefer living on the top floor for this reason. If I knew I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary regarding noise, it would not have even bothered me.

Come on...walking? The midnight noises others have commented on could be correct. If you had someone who did shift work, like in a hospital and worked a 3-11 shift, it would probably be close to midnight before they got home. The same noise complaints can occur with those who have babies and toddlers. When you decide to live in an apartment or condo, this is one of the sacrifices you may have to make.

Your neighbor sounds unreasonable and I would have ignored his complaints. You could suggest he pay for new floors for your condo if it bothers him that much, especially since he AND the floors were there before you moved in. LOL

You sound like a sweet person, but after a month or two of trying to find a solution, I would just let it go. If he sues at some point, just countersue with harassament. Until then, just lead your normal life.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2009 at 6:34PM
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I just stumbled on this and me being the downstairs neighbor of a laminated floor, it is a nightmare. I have been fighting with not only my upstairs neighbor regarding all of the noise coming out of their unit. It sounds like elephants walking and bowling balls rolling across my ceiling. I even went to the board too, and they said it was between the 2 neighbors.

I have to say that at least you are trying to quiet down by placing area rugs and runners in the walking area, while my upstairs neighbor will not. The noise has gotten worse then better in the few years they have lived here. I may have to contact an attorney and see what my rights are since my ceiling is getting the brunt of all the noise.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2010 at 1:13AM
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Sigh... I understand where you come from.
Same thing here. I am in a university residence.
My next door neighbor party! My upstairs neighbor is have normal living noise at night, accidentally drop a textbook and closing drawer.
My downstairs neighbor complain that WE are being too loud! We don't turn on the stereo ever. We never have our TV louder then Vol 15. We never party.We seat at our desk studying!I tiptoe when I walk! I never slam thing as this breaks them!
We try to explain the noise is not coming from us. We even invite them to come into our apartment and they hear the noise from our apartment too and they agree it is the same noise they are hearing. But They just keep coming back to us.
Couple time, when we came back home. We find them standing outside of our door Listening! Then they said they hear noises! We are Out of the house! We feel like we are being spy on and I am extremely uncomfortable living here. The worst part is they start banging on our door at 11:00 at night yelling and screaming.
I do study late at night and I know that my upstairs neighbor is a student too. Workload is heavy. The noise are normal living noise, like walking. Can't blame them from staying up.
My downstairs neighbors request us to go upstairs to serve as a prove, we agreed. He were so rude to the other person that I feel bad for her.
What can I do? I want them to leave us alone!

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 4:41AM
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If you haven't lived it you can't understand.

Let me explain something to you people.

I live in a condo below a small family of 3.

They have hardwood floors and every step they move harasses me.
Not only is the walking to loud but they often run, jump and play with their cat.

That is what I hear all throughout the day and stomp stomp creek, crack pop during all hours of the night waking me up 3 to 5 times almost every night.


Just because you bought the place with hardwood floors or you like hardwood floors doesn't give you the right to constantly harass other people with your stupid noise. Believe it is harassment, it's hell living below such a-ssholes.

Every time I hear the noise from the idiots it disrupts what I'm doing and naturally my thoughts go to what are those idiots doing now. Also, hearing loud noises is sound pollution and stressful. Stress causes illness so you are responsible for any accidents, and or mental problems brought on by your noise pollution. YOU ARE CAUSING HARM TO OTHER PEOPLE. STOP IT YOU Ahole.


These low class trashy idiots belong in jail for constant, daily and nightly harassment.

You need to get rid of your fing hardwood floors immediately or you deserve to get sued and held liable.

I have talked to these idiots letting them know their noise is too loud and I've written them letters, They don't get rid of their loud floors. Now I bang on the walls and ceiling to repeatedly let them know when they're being too loud. If the wake me up, I get a stick and slam it on my ceiling so it wakes them up even more. F-uck them. They're a-ssholes and they have NO RIGHT harassing me.

I am a good person but I'm tired of being constantly harassed and my life ruined by these inconsiderate a-holes. I hope they get hit by a car.

If you don't get rid of your harassing hardwood floors I hope you get sued.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2012 at 10:05PM
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Wow. Seriously, John? I think you've got it a little backwards. If you can't handle noise, you should NOT be living in an apartment, or at the very least you should have made an effort to be on the top floor. I have lived in many apartments and right now I live in the downstairs of a house, and people above me have always made noise. It's not harassment. That's just how PHYSICS WORKS. It only causes stress because you are unwilling to accept it. Accept it and you won't even hear it anymore.

After all, is it harassment when you live in the woods and the frogs scream all night long? Or when you live in the city and you can hear the sirens and car horns? We live on this planet with other people and other animals. Silence is not your right, ESPECIALLY when you CHOOSE to live in a building with dozens/hundreds of other people. If you want silence, YOU have to be the one to go through the trouble to obtain it.

Stop being an @$$hole to your poor neighbors who are just behaving normally in their home. Move out if the environment doesn't suit you.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 9:52PM
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The problem is that buildings in the US are crappily built, and even 500K condos are NOISY. Buyers should demand serious sound proofing rather than just look for appearance/ cosmetics when shopping for an apartment.

    Bookmark   February 20, 2012 at 12:17PM
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You could be between a rock and a hard place. Does your building have any Sound or Occupant restrictions? I know what it is like to live under someone. I moved to the top floor. Whether it's sueing or a building fine the noise has to be excessive. How much walking are you doing? Why? From experience you could turn the tables on the seller for misrepresenting the suite if they were aware of how many were buying. -- I am currently in a position of being fined for excessive walking in the morning and dinner hour. I multi-task and walk from room to room. I am just so tempted to buy a new stereo because I hate their loud music. In my case I bought pre-construction which was to have a 70 STC.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 11:53PM
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Hi PT23- I've been digging the internet- I have the same exact issue. Where you able to resolve it? The worst part is that the owner of the condo is renting the condo downstairs to very interesting looneys. Did you get sued?
The owner claims that he has lost 2 tenants- the first one was a chain smoker and even sounded to me like she had mental issues. The second one was a family with a kid that I can hear whenever he cries! But I've never complained we just ignored it. We also walk on tipy toe. Did you ever consult with a lawyer? I also live in CA.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2012 at 4:50PM
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I would give just about anything to have you as my upstairs neighbor. I have lived in different apartment complexes or condos for many years now and have never had neighbors who stomp - at all hours of the day and night the way I have now. The wife isn't bad - walks normally. I can hear her, but it isn't annoying. Her husband on the other hand stomps and doesn't just get up off the couch or out of bed - he jumps and lands really hard. He has woken me from a dead sleep on more occasions than I can count. I've tried talking to them, have complained to the management - nothing helps.

Anyway, I hope you have been able to resolve your situation. It sounds like you have been a more than considerate neighbor and are being (were being?) harassed.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2014 at 11:07PM
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Suburbia is chain saws, weed eaters and lawn movers.
It is a noisy world;
I removed the original post about my neighbor as it was idle gossip, both true and amusing but...somethings are best left unsaid or said locally :)

    Bookmark   September 16, 2014 at 2:10PM
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