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can stomping/running cause damage to the apartment below??

Posted by sandypo0 (My Page) on
Sun, Jan 23, 11 at 4:14

My boyfriend and I recently moved into a condo and we have had issues with the lady below since the beginning. I do understand that we are a younger couple (24 and 25) and she probably is used to older tenants. The other 4 condos have much older folks occupying the units and she is 77 herself. We aren't a party house but have company over every now and then. We refrained from having a housewarming party because we knew having a group of people would probably not be okay with the noise and with her - we are responsible!

We came home today with a letter taped to the door -- apparently, our "stomping, running and jumping" has caused damage to her dining room chandelier as the lights blink/flicker (she says it's "dislodge" and it "indicates wire damage that could lead to fire"). Let me say that yes, we do chase each other sometimes but we do not jump or stomp around the place. We are told the floors are concrete poured and the building itself was built in 1973. I weight 120, the boyfriend is 180. She kindly recommended us getting renter's insurance if we did not have it already -- we do -- and that she would be hiring an electrician and a carpenter should the ceiling need to be cut out.

Some background -- one evening my boyfriend layed out flower petals for our anniversary on the stairs that lead up to the front door. We received a note from her saying that this was a liability and that they could freeze and we or someone could slip and then we'd be dealing with a law suite. This was after I picked up the majority of the petals already.

She phoned us one day demanding that we call the cable installer to fix a noise. We had just gotten a room hooked up with a cable outlet and said there was a loud ringing noise coming into her bedroom (I could hear it by putting my ear to the floor). We knew that it was not us - out landlord happened to be in our place at the time and he went downstairs to check it out and it was coming from the condo below her -- she is very quick to blame us.

Her way of signaling to us that we are being too loud is her slamming one of the bedroom doors that is near our dining table. When we have guests over, we are usually around the table chatting or in the kitchen and so we can hear it. She came into our condo one day to speak to us about something else and told us that this would be the way she'd communicate to us that we need to quiet down as it's "what she had to do with the previous couple." Not a phone call, not a knock but slamming her own door.

I do want to take this seriously but it is hard for me to take her seriously given the situation and the past experiences we have had with her. If it is indeed damage that we could have caused, it is our duty to make the correction; however, I've never heard of any damaged caused by playful chasing. Please help!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: can stomping/running cause damage to the apartment below??

To answer your question, it is possible for running to cause enough vibrations that something in the condo below you is damaged. That does not mean, however, that the problems the woman below you is experiencing with her chandelier were caused by you and your boyfriend.

What I'd do in this particular case is to gently inform the downstairs neighbor that you are of course perfectly willing to pay the cost for repair of any damage that you caused. And that when she presents to you a written analysis of the damage by someone expert in determining the cause of damage to lighting fixtures and that such analysis clearly indicates that the damage was caused in the past X months (X being the number of months you have lived in that condo) and that said damage could only have been caused by movement in the unit above the chandelier, you will be happy to pay.

Because while your running may have contributed to the damage, I doubt very much that it was the sole cause.

However, if you want to be a good neighbor, I'd stop the "playful chasing" completely. Running makes more noise than walking, and I wouldn't want to be living underneath adults who were running around in their unit.

Do try to get back on good terms with your neighbors. Don't put anything on the stairs--people in their 70s have a very valid fear of falling and even if rose petals (which were a very sweet thought on the part of your BF) don't look dangerous to you, to someone who is at all unsteady on their feet, it's just one more thing that could cause a fall. Keep your things out of the common areas and confined to your unit.

If she starts slamming her door, I'd go downstairs and ask what the problem is. If it is just the noise of people talking in your unit, while bearing in mind that you have every right to have guests and conversation, do what you can to appease her a little bit. Offer to move the conversation to another room, if that would bother her less. Inform her that the noise should only last for another hour or so (if that's truly the case), or at least let her know by what time the guests will be gone. Or be proactive and tell her a day or two before you have people over that there will be a party and some noise and conversation, and give her your phone number so she can call if it gets too loud.

You may be in the right. You aren't holding loud parties and blasting music and tap dancing over her head. And it may seem silly to try and appease a cranky old lady. But do you want to have to field complaints and questions from both her and your landlord on a regular basis? And if there are too many complaints, your landlord may not renew your lease.

Ask your landlord if he has any tips on dealing with this woman, or if she's complained about everyone living above her. Ask the landlord if he can suggest anything you can do to make things quieter.


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RE: can stomping/running cause damage to the apartment below??

Thank you. She does have our phone number, which was a mistake. She'd call about the music (during the day, not turned all the way up) and of course, us "stomping about the place." When she called demanding that we have the cable guy come back, we told her to not call us anymore and to go through our landlord. We are on a month to month basis and not on a lease - I love the place and its location so I am sad to have issues with her. The landlord passed away the first month we moved in and we have been dealing with her son and he is very reasonable and understands our side. I do see her point of view but also feel she is being dramatic. I certainly am not dishing over money to fix something I do not feel I caused in the three months I have been here.

I really just need to know on a liability stand point. I will make sure to get a report - I think, from the letter, that she is going to get it fixed and expects to forward the bill to our insurance company. In that case, they will just toss it out since there is no proof.


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RE: can stomping/running cause damage to the apartment below??

Thank you. She does have our phone number, which was a mistake. She'd call about the music (during the day, not turned all the way up) and of course, us "stomping about the place." When she called demanding that we have the cable guy come back, we told her to not call us anymore and to go through our landlord. We are on a month to month basis and not on a lease - I love the place and its location so I am sad to have issues with her. The landlord passed away the first month we moved in and we have been dealing with her son and he is very reasonable and understands our side. I do see her point of view but also feel she is being dramatic. I certainly am not dishing over money to fix something I do not feel I caused in the three months I have been here.

I really just need to know on a liability stand point. I will make sure to get a report - I think, from the letter, that she is going to get it fixed and expects to forward the bill to our insurance company. In that case, they will just toss it out since there is no proof.


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RE: can stomping/running cause damage to the apartment below??

Just my opinion and I am not a lawyer, but I doubt that you can be held responsible for damage to her chandelier or to repair the wiring due to what sounds like normal living above her. However, the wiring of the chandelier should be checked, and if I were you, I would inform the landlord that there may be an electrical short somewhere within her apartment.

Don't run in the apartment, don't put rose petals or other items in walkways. If I could hear my neighbor's music at any time of the day I would be annoyed. Earbuds?

The bottom line is that you picked the wrong building to be in. That said, there are ways for a young couple to ingratiate themselves with the elderly. The next time the weather is bad, call her up and tell her you are going to the grocery store and ask if she needs anything. Find a way to be in communication with her and the other tenants that isn't about problems. In other words, be nice to her. It will go a long way towards making her think differently about you and not so spring-loaded to complain.


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