How to deal with noise complaint due to flooring- HELP!

DuffduffxxMay 25, 2011

I will try to give a not-so-extensive background on my situation, so here it goes.

I just moved into a great apartment. The place is all ceramic tile and beautifully renovated. Walls, ceiling and floors are all cement backed. Very structurally sound.

Everything has been awesome so far, that was until I got a noise complaint 1 week into me being there. I had 4 people over on a Saturday night, all with their shoes off, all being at relatively normal levels and the neighbors below filed a noise complaint.

Being somewhat pissed off that I wasn't even making excessive noise to my account, I went to speak with them, and to my surprise, they are very nice, cool, understanding people. After talking for a while, I find out that this guy has been living there for years and the tile floors have been an issue for him for a long time. He has fought previous owners, the HOA, etc to get the floor carpeted to no success. He has had renters kicked out for the noise and is willing to pay for some (not a lot) of the installation- that's how bad he wants it done.

I had my friends walk around in my place while I was in their apartment and lo and behold, it was extremely loud. No noises, just THUMP THUMP THUMP. Like hammers. I can't blame the guy- it is very very loud.We have concluded that when they installed the floor, they failed to put any cork or soundproofing under the tile because the floor is sitting right on the concrete. He can hear me walk around by myself, and when I have people over it is just magnified by 10x.

I have come to terms that it will probably have to be carpeted in certain areas.

While I was worried I would be giving up the tile, I am more worried about who is going to pay for this. I am wondering why I would be on the hook- I JUST BOUGHT THE PLACE! I didn't install the floors! The flooring issue was never brought to my attention during the sale or else I would have negotiated this in the deal! I feel completely screwed here

.My agent felt that liability for the improperly installed floors could be made with the following arguments to the following parties.

* The seller never disclosed that there is a known issue with the floors in regards to improper installation of the floors without sound proofing (its not the neighbor, its the floor)- it is on the seller.

* The HOA never did the proper assessments to approve the flooring- it is on the HOA.

* A previous seller had the floors improperly installed without approval- it is on the seller or HOA.

* The title insurance should cover defective/improperly installed flooring- it is an "encumbrance" on the property.

However after pushing this further my agent is being lazy, changed her position, and doesn't feel like I have a case here for any of the above. So without liability on the seller or HOA my options are:

* I eat the $3000 charge myself to carpet the place for something I had no control over

* I forgo the carpet, deal with the numerous noise complaints (up to $500 per violation from my building, ?? from whoever else) and face legal action for nuisance (after doing research, this is enforced by the DEH/Denver Police), and deal with a generally pissed off neighbor below.

* I forgo the carpet, never have people over to avoid noise complaints (however this still doesn't solve the problem and puts liability on me when I sell it) and tip-toe around my place.

This whole situation has made my first home buying experience and awful one. I am trying to work through it but any advice would be appreciated.

My current actions:

* Gather documentation of the history of noise complaints from the HOA to show that the seller (s) knew about the floors noise issue yet did not disclose the floor issue to me during the sale.

* Get an acoustical noise test to show that the floors are extremely loud and were improperly installed

* Send a letter to the seller asking him to help me resolve this with compensation

* File a claim with my title insurance

Thanks in advance for any insight you have!

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Interesting situation you're in. If the HOA has an approval process and policy regarding types of flooring that are accepted and the previous owner didn't comply with that and installed a non-conforming floor, then you may have a legitimate claim for loss of use or value. I would think that the seller would be interested in making this right with you.

If you go the claim route, then you may discover that you will be making your claim to many parties in this case. I can see them getting together to share responsibility and resolving the issue.

Even when floors in high rise buildings are installed with sound deadening materials, there still is 'some' noise from cannot be entirely eliminated. However, your floors have no sound attenuating properties, and that is your complaint.

Good luck and let us know what you decide to do and the outcome.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 9:12PM
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The HOA claims that my floors were "grandfathered" in, or in other words, they were put in before the regulations were in place which I find hard to believe.

You say that I will be claiming to many parties- do you really think they might all agree to help me pay for this? That would be awesome, but sounds difficult getting a bunch of people together to get this done.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2011 at 9:22PM
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Check the dates on when the HOA rules went into effect; that will tell you whether or not the existing conditions are grandfathered.

Er, I hate to mention this, as we already have an excess of litigation in this country, but folks do respond to certified letters of intent to sue and then are given another wake up call when suit is actually brought. I know you haven't mentioned lawsuit here, but that may be one of your options. And I would think your title company could be of some assistance, if your contract with them covers this obvious defect.

Perhaps you will want to consult with a good real estate attorney.

Hope this all works out for you.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 3:21PM
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However, if the HOA accepted "grandfathered" existing conditions with the units, then you may be SOL in claiming any kind of loss.

When you decide what to do about the floors, definitely work with the people below...they sound like reasonable people.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 3:34PM
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You can always use some rugs.

You are likely wasting your time even trying to stick the HOA or the previous owner with the problem.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 7:57PM
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I agree with brickeye. Legal fees will be greatly in excess of the 3K needed to install carpet. It's just part of home ownership to deal with the cost of maintainence and repair of your property. I'd personally put down some rugs, and announce any future gatherings to the tenant below (maybe even invite them) so they can plan an evening out from the apartment. Maybe even pay for their dinner and a movie out. As long as your gatherings aren't too frequent or too late, this should be a decent compromise with your neighbor and cost less than a noise citation or a carpet install. Then, save up and have the floors redone when you can afford to do them right, with proper sound deadening installed.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 12:25AM
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"Legal fees will be greatly in excess of the 3K needed to install carpet."

You can probably get some rugs for lower than carpeting the whole unit (unless you use 'builders grade' carpet).

    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 10:28AM
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Sorry to hear about your situation. Just to put a different spin on it, if you dont want carpeting, have you considered soundproofing the neighbors ceiling? Check out a product called "green glue" and some forums on soundproofing.

ALso, now adays, they make very thin (.12") tiles that you could lay over your existing tiles without needed to pull the old ones up. You could put some sort of soundproofing in between. Check out products like Slimmker tiles or Kerlite tiles. THey are not low end, but maybe you'd enjoy getting a new floor out of the deal? They are made so thin (but very strong) so they dont interfere with cabeinets etc.

Best of luck!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2011 at 10:37AM
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