threatening eviction because of treadmill

courtzskiDecember 7, 2004

My landlord recently threatened to evict me and my husband if we did not stop using our treadmill, due to a noise complaint from the neighbor downstairs. He has further ordered us to move the treadmill into the basement, via a letter that was sent to us from his attorney. To make a long story short, when the neighbor downstairs complains to the landlord, he calls us with a new "rule" that we must abide by (yes, the tenant and landlord are long time friends and she has been living here about 6 years, us about 8 months). We have also seeked legal advice and are very confident that he has no case to evict us, so we are not moving the treadmill (he's coming over tomorrow for an "inspection" and stated that the treadmill should be in the basement when he comes over).

Any words of advice on how to calmly and effectively negotiate with this guy, or our downstaris neighbor? He's a hot head and gets extremely lound and emotional when we challenge his "rules". I initially addressed her complaint by stating that I would ad a piece of carpeting under the treadmill to help reduce the noise (it's currently on an equipment mat and we have hard wood floors). That obviously wasn't good enough.

Your thoughts are much appreciated. There is a lot more to this story if anyone is interested, just ask. I just didn't want to write a book!

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What does your lease say, and what sort of notice is required by your state's LAW for changes to the rules that apply to a tenant. Note that evictions must go through a couyrt hearing, and he has to have a real good reason, not just "they didn't obey the rules".

Havew you been able to check how loud the thing is when in use by going downstairs? Sometimes the low-frequency vibrations are way worse downstairs. (cats scampering down a hall can sound like elephants stampeding to the downstairs). Take a tape recorder and tape the actual noises the thing produces.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 8:42AM
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Thank you for your response. There is a clause in our lease that states, "the landlord may impose rules and regulations from time to time, which should be considered part of this lease". Our attorney thinks this may be an unconsciousable clause since it would be extremely unfair for the landlord to unilaterally make any rule at any time. That clause may also be contradicted by another clause in the lease, stating that "the lease can not be changed in anyway unless agreed upon in writing by all parties". Basically, if it went to court it would depend on the judge and his/her interpretation of the lease and law.

The only other valid complaint he could try to bring against us in an eviction proceeding is that we are causing a nuisance or disturbance to our neighbor. However, I spoke with a city police officer in the Noise Ordinance Enforcement Dept. and she stated that since I was using the treadmill during reasonable hours (5pm) that a complaint of treadmill use would be "unfounded".

We would like to listen to the treadmill while in use from her apartment, but I doubt they will let that happen. We will request to do that tonight, however. The odd thing is, for some reason he is stating that he wants us to remove the treadmill because it would cause damage to the downstairs apt., not due to noise (ie, cause ceiling damage). I also spoke with an Inspector from my city's Code Enforcement, and he stated that was a "lousy excuse" and highly unlikely. If we do get a chance to listen to the treadmill from her apt. and it really is that bad, I have no problem making compromises. Our frustration is that we have not been given a chance to remedy the situation, just ordered to remove it from the apt.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 9:09AM
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I hate to be "against" you but I can't believe you have a treadmill when you live on the second floor. I live on the second floor and would love to have a treadmill but DON'T b/c treadmills are often loud and I don't want to bother my neighbor below. If you love this apartment so much then give up the treadmill to stay. If you love the treadmill more than move(and preferably choose a 1st floor apt). You live in an apt., you need to be considerate of the people you share wall with... if you can't then get a house so you dont have to worry about bothering others.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 9:57AM
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I'm sort of w/ Kelly726. I think if it didn't bother the downstairs neighbor, you wouldn't hear about it. But they landlord is being really aggressive about this, so it must REALLY bother the downstairs tenant.

I wonder how long your lease is? Bcs if you refuse to move the treadmill to the basement (which would still let you use it, I presume), you can be very certain that the landlord will NOT renew your lease. He'll invent anything he has to to avoid it.

And your downstairs neighbor has a right to "quiet enjoyment"--and I bet your lease has a clause that says if you impinge on the "quiet enjoyment," you can be evicted.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 11:42AM
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Thanks for your response, even if you are "against" me. You bring up a good point and hit the nail on the head that this issue is really about neighbors getting along and being considerate of each other. My main complaint is that we have not been given an opportunity to work the situation out with our neighbor. Instead, the landlord is acting like a tyrant (in my opinion) and trying to making rules with out hearing our perception of the problem, and neither the landlord or our neighbor are giving us an opportunity to ammend the situation. And now it has turned into an ugly mess where lawyers are involved and he's threatening eviction. (in case I didn't mention it, we have not used the treadmill since he asked us to stop. but it is still in the apartment and he is asking us to remove it completely. that's where we are drawing the line).

Home ownership is currently our goal. We have 10 months left on our lease and our plan has always been to purchase a house during this time. I think what it comes down to is that we can't let this incident (no matter how strongly we feel our rights are being violated) distract us from our long term goal. I shudder when I think of attorney fees, and what if we lost our deposit, and what if we were ordered to pay future rent if he was successful at evicting us... And we really do want to get along with our neighbor. Unfortunately, she hasn't been that easy to get along with.

Anyway, I'm just venting. Thanks for your response because it has helped remind me what the real issue is here, and how much we want to avoid court and future problems, which I'm sure our landlord does too.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 11:55AM
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Just a quick response...our basement is unfinished, damp, dirty, moldy, etc. (it's an old house). It wouldn't be suitable to exercise in, let alone store a piece of electronic equipment. Also, since it's gotten colder out, our neighbor has begun smoking in the basement. I guess she smokes in her apt. too, so I don't know why she needs to smoke in the basement. But obviously I can't exercise where someone is smoking. Anyway, we requested to the landlord that she not smoke in the basement since it's a shared area and our washer/dryer are down there and we don't want our clothes smelling like smoke. And guess what, he refused to make a rule about no smoking in the basement. It's really hard to convey what's happening throught this forum...basically we're thinking, why can she complain about noise and we get a new rule...and when we complain about smoking in shared areas he disregards us? And forget it if we try to challenge his rules, he threatens to evic! There is an odd dynamic b/t the landlord and the neighbor and he seems to bend at her every whim and also refuses to confront her with our concerns. Anyway, venting again...

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 12:18PM
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I'd be bothered by having to move the treadmill as well. Especially if you have already quit using it. What would concern me the most about moving the treadmill into the basement is that it is a common area where you have no control. Someone could use it without your permission. And even damage it. Someone could use it and get hurt and try to take legal action against you because it belongs to you.

It sounds to me like you have an a$$ for a landlord. Some people just don't know how to deal with conflict, so they jump on a power trip if they can. This is not to say that the treadmill may not be loud or that the downstairs neighbor might not have a valid complaint - just that he is handling it poorly.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 12:46PM
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"and what if we were ordered to pay future rent if he was successful at evicting us..."

Unless you have a wierd state, when a landlord EVICTS someone, they can't also collect rent from them. They have to make immediate and reasonable efforts to c

Good point about the basement not being secure. Would landlord be willing to repay you for any damage to the machine, or its theft?

    Bookmark   December 8, 2004 at 9:33PM
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He could require you to stop using it in the apartment, and offer the basement as an alternative place to use it.

But I don't think he can require you to stop OWNING it, or to stop STORING it in your home.

Is there some way you can change how you store it, so that it's more obvious that you won't just up and use it some day?

Does he realize that you've stopped using it? You may need an opportunity to make this clear, very politely.

Oh, and remember that a sincere-sounding apology can go a LONG, LONG way.

Right now what you want is not to win some sort of battle of "rights" between you and the other tenant, and him, and everything. You want to smooth the waters so that you can live there calmly until you leave.

So start the conversation with some sincere apologies--we're so sorry, we didn't realize how loud it was, we certainly don't want to disturb anybody.--and some compliments--we appreciate your offering us an alternative place to use it, it's nice of you to try to come up with a solution that would let us use it---before you get onto other issues.

Even if you're grumpy, swallow it. Focus on your true goal, and apologize. He'll back down MUCH faster than if you try to argue w/ him.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2004 at 4:30PM
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How did the 'inspection' go? I just got to thinking - I wonder if your landlord really has the right to enter your dwelling in this particular instance?

As Talley Sue said, you may have to grin and bear it (as much as I hate anyone giving into people on power trips). If you want to stay there, you will have to stop using the treadmill. But you should not have to remove it, nor should you have to store it in your apartment where the landlord thinks you should (so it looks like you won't use it).

    Bookmark   December 10, 2004 at 8:56AM
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Well, the "inspection" actually went very well. My landlords came over (husband and wife) and we were all very cordial to each other. He asked us if we had moved the treadmill and we said no, we were not going to move it (for reasons already mentioned) but let him know that we had not used it since he asked us to stop. He seemed satisfied with that. I then asked if he was still interested in evicting us, and he said no. So, that was a huge sigh of relief. Further, he insisted that his rule about not using the treadmill came out of his concern for damage it could do to the property, not because he is favoring our downstairs neighbor. So, my husband and I did decide to grin and bear it and accept what he was telling us as truth, even though we still have our suspicions.

So, although we are extremely disapointed that we are not able to use the treadmill we feel extremely relieved to put this behind us. Too much time and energy were being put into this matter. We only have 10 months left and then we are going to move on. If further problems arise with my neighbor (she recently complained to us that we walk too loud and that my cats are too it just me, or is that crazy! She has a dog that barks frequently (which we have never complained about, we just accept it because dogs do bark) and she thinks my cats are too loud!), I hope we can settle things ourselves and the landlords will stay out of it. I guess one moral of the story is "choose your battles". Thanks for all your comments and advice.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2004 at 12:41PM
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glad it went well, and the landlords were cordial. good luck.

cats can sound louder downstairs, and they can thump the ground pretty hard when they run. Apologize, smile, and say "I do hear your dog bark frequently, did you know? I don't consider it something to complain about, because, well, sometimes dogs have something to say. Perhaps you would be willing to extend the same courtesy to me and my cats."

    Bookmark   December 13, 2004 at 11:01AM
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I think you are making the correct decision in not using the treadmill.

I lived in an upper apartment for seven years, all good except one year made miserable by a bad neighbor who played very loud music all the time. I almost moved because of this jerk. Otherwise, we had a good group of people who were courteous to their neighbors.

I would have never dreamed of buying a treadmill for my 3rd floor apartment. I can't even imagine how loud it would have been downstairs. Day or night, I wouldn't have subjected my downstairs neighbor to that kind of noise.

Upper apartments are the best because you have less noise than lower ones. That said, I think they require even more vigilance as far as not making excessive noise for those below.

Now I have a house and could buy a treadmill, but I'd much rather go to the gym than work out alone at home.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2005 at 9:23PM
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Sound complaints can be tricky. We once had crazy neighbors who complained that my snoring was making it impossible for them to sleep even though they used earplugs, white noise, a fan and sleeping pills.

First we lived downstairs from them, second I suffered from insomnia. I don't know what noise or if any they were hearing. Noise usually travels down not up. These people were not quiet themselves, they were heavy walkers.

It was pretty crazy and they were pushing the landlord to evict us. We had been there 3 years and they had been there 3 months. It was one neighbor's word against another. The manager just assumed that they were hearing the snoring no matter what we said. The manager sided with the crazy neighbors but she would never come and check out the sound herself. Thanks goodness I had befriended the landlord.

We went to an attorney for a consult and his advice was that it isn't worth battling an eviction. Even if you win it goes on your record, and for some on your credit record, so he said it's better to just move.

The neighbors did finally move after they were told by the landlord that he wasn't going to evict us, but in the meantime, it made our life a living hell until they did. We couldn't even talk to one another in the bedroom. A luxury that our other neighbors got to enjoy. They even had late night parties. Also the manager kept soliciting every neighbor after wards to try and see if it they were bothered by my snoring. Funny thing is I got my insomnia taken care of so I was really sleeping and the following neighbors told us they never heard a peep.

So much for loony neighbors. Some people just loved to complain and try to have power over other people to feel important.

Now we make sure and approach every new neighbor where ever we live. It has worked so far.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2005 at 9:36PM
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I just wanted to say, I don't think having a treadmill on the second floor should be off limits. I just moved to a second floor apartment, and have a treadmill. My neighbor below told me they never hear it! So, it's a matter of how the apartment is built, etc. And believe me, I can from a first floor apartment where noise was terrible and I am very considerate of the noise I make.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2005 at 9:28AM
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They can't evict you for having a treadmil. These days they have washers and dryers in all apts. They make the same amount of noise if not even louder than treadmills. I live in a townhouse on the 3rd floor loft. I put a black thick mat under my treadmill. My roommate below barely hears it. Sometimes if you put padding underneath of it it will block at some noise. Running children, animals, music are all the same are they going to tell you that you can't have children talking or playing or that you can't listen to music. Please give me a break. I think as long as your are working out at a reasonable hour after work, early evening even if the person does hear it will only last about up to an hour. In my opinion this is obsurd. I plan to move out on my own soon and move into an apt and I will be damned if I can't workout on my treadmill!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 2:00PM
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I hope you get everything worked out and can survive for 10 months.

We're 2nd floor dwellers ourselves (thank goodness, only for one more month...then we're moving to a house). We try to be considerate of those below us - we only have one person below us. He tends to do his laundry from midnight to 3am, but he leaves for work between 3:30 and 4am. I work out at home usually around 5am, but he's long gone. We've never had a problem with him complaining or us complaining, but we do try to be respectful and not make a lot of noise when he's at home.

And I definitely know that cats can be loud - ours love to run around every once in a while and they do sound like elephants. Perhaps you can do as someone above mentioned and make note that her dog barks, but you understand they bark. Cats jump from place to place.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 9, 2007 at 4:28PM
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the noise depends on the age of the place you are living in. i am in a 1920s bungalow and it should be called a "bugle-low" every noise sounds likes like Beethovan's 5th! soooo having a treadmill on the second or upper flow, one should use their brains. my attitude would be if you use during reasonable hours, who cares! but say after 9 pm...forget it!!!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2007 at 5:46PM
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Does it take an attorney, a court of law and a lease contract to figure out that you are clearly disturbing the other tenant and undermining your landlord; the "OWNER" of the property? If you wish to live by your own rules then buy a house, otherwise grow up and act responsible. You are clearly bad tenants I hope your journey to fight this leads to your eviction. Grow up!

    Bookmark   September 9, 2008 at 1:18PM
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i`ve had a treadmill for 4 yrs now, i`am on the 2nd floor, my downstairs neighbor says she has never heard it. i have it set on a rubber pad with thats on top of a piece of 1/4 inch masonite, this sets on top of the carpet. i also walk on it, dont jog. but i use it 90 mins a day. although all bldgs are not the same when it comes to sound proofing. i work nights and sleep days, and have never been awakened by anything.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 5:05AM
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There are ways to reduce structure borne noise with vibration isolation supports but carpets and pads only help a little.

    Bookmark   January 7, 2009 at 9:56PM
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Our landlord threatens tenants for gossiping.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2009 at 3:35AM
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Have you gone downstairs and listened to the noise.

I would be complaining too.

My mom used to have her exercise bike in the sunroom and my bedroom is directly underneath it and one time my brother and sil and their baby son was visiting and at 6am she got on it and rode it and it sounded like a train coming through my place. I protested big time.

No, I don't like those things at all and I don't blame anyone living underneath you not liking them.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2009 at 2:31AM
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If u live in Apartment then u must respect your neighbor . Put yourself in their shoes and u will do the same. I am experiencing the same thing right now . My neighbor next to me is using heavy equpment , weight lifting and every time he put down , my whole apartment shakes. Its feels like earth quick. I complain to the landlord and she gave him warning but he still continue weight lifting , he just change the hours he uses like it make a difference.

I complain again and this time the landlord lady told me that she is working on taking care of it but did not tell what she is doing. I hope she is working on evicting his ass. ON the lease it say u can not use any kind of exercise equpment.

I lost a lots of sleep in the past 3 monthes because this idiot so I wonder what can i do get back at this guy?? Can sue him??

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 10:51AM
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I complain again and this time the landlord lady told me that she is working on taking care of it but did not tell what she is doing.

No, she probably won't (and definitely shouldn't) discuss with anyone what she's doing, especially if it's disciplinary or eviction measures. It's a private, contractual situation between her and the other tenant. Don't jump to "sue" or anything like that. Give it time, especially if she's considering evicting him. Your LL has legal guidelines to follow in that case & it takes time.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 11:31AM
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i would be drinking when my apt manager came over to tell me my treadmill is to loud and id point out how fat he or she is and assure them that their signifigant other prolly does the dandy will some one else i have the same problem

    Bookmark   February 19, 2012 at 3:38PM
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