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Noise complaints from downstairs

Posted by gekko27 (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 12, 13 at 5:14

Hi folks

I've seen a number of similar threads on this issue but just wanted to ask for some advice.

My wife and I have recently bought a first-floor flat in London. There is a couple living (renting) in the ground floor flat beneath us, and nobody above. Since moving in 8 months ago, we have received numerous noise complaints (via text and email) from the neighbours downstairs, as follows (paraphrased):

Their complaint:
The noise from your renovation work is too loud.

Our response:
Sorry, it will last no longer than 2 weeks, we'll try to keep it within reasonable working hours, and please accept this bottle of wine as an apology.

--

Complaint:
You play the saxophone during the day, we work from home sometimes, it's really disturbing.

Response:
My wife is a professional musician, she has to practise. Therefore, we've invested over £1000 in soundproof screed-board flooring for the living (practice) room, which we hope will mitigate lots of the noise.

--

Complaint:
I can still hear the sax. It's annoying.

Response:
Sorry, we've run out of money for further renovations, can you tell us your working hours and we will work around them.

Their response to the above:
No, that's not possible, our hours are flexible so we can't say in advance when we will be home.

--

Complaint:
"NO PIANO TODAY" (sent by text)

Response:
Ignored. My wife was teaching piano to her student, using a Yamaha digital piano on about half volume. In a sound-proofed room.

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Complaint:
I can still hear that sax. Stop it.

Response:
OK, we are going to look at clearing out the loft, spurring off the hallway lighting to run mains power into there, laying down flooring, and building a small soundproof booth. This will be above our living room, which already has soundproof flooring, so there will be a whole floor in between the sax and your property. We hope to complete this work within maybe 6 weeks.

Their response:
Thanks for making an effort to resolve this. Let us know how it goes.

--

Complaint:
I can hear you walking around in hard shoes on the wooden floorboards in the bedroom, it's right above our bedroom and wakes us up. It sounds like hammers.

Response:
Sorry, this building was built in the 1870s, as you well knew when you moved in 3 years before us, so the sound-proofing is naturally inadequate. Given that the sax is the main issue here, we're going to concentrate on that. We simply do not have any more money to throw at sound-proofing materials.

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Complaint:
The sound of people running on the stairs is awful. It wakes us up.

Response:
We carpeted the stairs as soon as we moved in, and the only people who "run" on the stairs are our cats, who weigh less than 5kg each. I highly doubt it's really that bad.

--

Complaint:
The previous neighbours made lots of noise in the kitchen, you will too. What are you going to do about it?

Response:
We've fixed down all the floorboards, laid down underlay, and laminate cork flooring on top. This should help matters.

Their response:
It did help, thanks.

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Since all of the above (most of which I told them in person as I got sick of their snarky text messages throughout the day), we received another text at 8.40am this morning (saturday) about my wife walking around in hard shoes again. She was getting ready to go to work. She texted back, in frustration, saying "Please stop harassing us." We haven't heard from them again this morning.

My questions are:

Are we being unreasonable?
Are the neighbours being unreasonable?

We certainly feel a bit bullied by the constant complaining, that only ever comes through text or email. We have spent roughly £2000 to date on sound-proofing measures (the previous owner of 25 years certainly hadn't), and are so far the only ones who seem to have done anything to try and make things better. All the neighbours do is complain. We even offered suggestions that they could take to their landlord (who is incidentally our freeholder) to perhaps put some ceiling / wall sound-proofing solutions in their property. That was straight-up ignored.

I'm beginning to think that they've lost perspective, and now feel that they have a right to absolute silence, as opposed to reasonably low levels of noise.

Grateful for any advice on how best to try and resolve this matter!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Noise complaints from downstairs

You poor souls! Apparently you have the misfortune to live above people who refuse to be satisfied. You've gone to great effort and quite an amazing amount of money to accommodate these people. Send them a letter of notification via certified mail, return receipt requested (I apologize for not knowing the correct UK terminology, but this action will establish an official paper trail.) List all their complaints, by date and time, and the measures you've taken to remedy same, including your financial outlay. Lastly, state that further complaints will be considered as harrassment and will cause you to file appropriate charges with the authorities. This should take care of the issue. Good luck!
Kaye


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RE: Noise complaints from downstairs

About the shoes--is there a need to wear hard shoes in your bedroom, which is right above their bedroom? I do think they have a valid complaint there. Either keep the shoes off until you are out of the bedroom or put some sort of carpet/rug down. That should stop that complaint. I do think this is a simple thing you can do--it is miserable to be awakened by noise that can easily be prevented.

About the sax--for a year, I lived below a trumpet player. He also played a few other instruments. The most annoying thing was that he'd pick up the trumpet, play one song or some exercises, and stop. Only to pick the trumpet up an hour later and play a little more. Later in the day, he'd play it again.

Can your wife pick one time during the day when she will practice? Then you can tell the neighbors, "The sax will be played Monday through Friday from 9 am until 11 am," or whatever will work. Then they will know when the noise will be, and can plan around it.

For the rest, I agree they are nit-picking you to death with the complaints. I'm actually on your side about everything else. So what I'd do is just tell them you are through. Once. "We have soundproofed the apartment as much as possible. Please talk to your landlord if you think your unit needs more soundproofing. We will not be responding to any phone calls, texts or letters about the noise we make. We have done all that we can to mitigate that." Then follow through and ignore their complaints.

You might also contact their landlord and complain about them and their constant complaining.

My building was built in 1900. I have a downstairs neighbor who complains about the creaking floorboards in my bedroom. There is a fix for those, but the landlord needs to pay out the money for that--not me, I'm just a renter. But the downstairs neighbor complains every single time she sees me. I just smile and tell her to call the landlord and then walk away. I'm barefoot or in sock feet in the bedroom all the time. I can't help 100 year old creaking floorboards.


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RE: Noise complaints from downstairs

I agree with Kaye 100%, now its become bullying and they must stop, It sounds to me that you have gone out of your way to suit their needs, you have rights also. You might want to talk to a lawyer to find out your legal rights for your area. I hope you've saved all their text msg's for proof of harassment. Good luck
Christine


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RE: Noise complaints from downstairs

Thank you all for your responses! I really appreciate it.

I think @kaye820's suggestion of a written letter is a brilliant one and I'll start drafting one right away. We have kept all emails and text messages as @christine1950 mentions, so that will come in very handy for listing out, in plain language, how frequently they have complained and how acquiescent we've been.

As for @camlan's point about the hardwood floors - I've actually spoken to my wife about this and she agrees that although she feels it's her "right" to wear whatever footwear she wants in her own home, we will buy some carpet-runners to cover the walkable areas of the floor as this is a relatively easy fix. I will of course inform the neighbours of this.

I've decided that the main point of my letter will be along the lines of:

We *intend* to convert our loft so that the noise of the saxophone is greatly reduced for you. However, if you do not immediately cease your continual harassment, we will *not* go ahead with that plan. We have made every reasonable effort to respond to your complaints and will no longer be acknowledging any further text messages or emails. If you wish to contact us regarding any future noise issues, I expect it to be done properly, in writing or via your landlord, [name withheld]. I would also recommend that you also contact [landlord] to request that he looks into various sound-proofing solutions that could be used in your property.


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RE: Noise complaints from downstairs

Great letter, short & sweet and you've covered all the issues. I wish you the best, let us know how it goes.
Christine


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RE: Noise complaints from downstairs

Enough is enough, and I salute you for not taking this lying down, or standing up, or walking around in hard shoes. Here in the Colonies we have the expectation of reasonable enjoyment of our homes, and what this nitwit has foisted on you constitutes outright harassment. Should this situation continue or escalate, which may happen upon his receipt of your letter, do not hesitate to go to the authorities. And don't back down or feel intimidated by a bully who cannot be made happy. You are in the right, so go forth and enjoy your flat.
Kaye


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RE: Noise complaints from downstairs

Have you offered to come downstairs and listen to the noise (e.g. saxophone, or the cats trampling on the stairs.)?
Having lived below someone where I could hear every step and every cough, I kind of feel sympathetic. One feels at the total mercy of the upstairs neighbor, i.e. lack of control or being prepared. The suggestion to come up with a fixed time for saxophone practice sounds reasonable.
Of course, I very much sympathize with you, too.


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