R.B. from Massachusetts writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I live in a poorly-insulated condo complex. There are three floors and six units per building (4 buildings total). The couple that lived above me recently moved out, but I experienced almost year of life disruption because of their noise. They had two small children that ran about and jumped all over the place like wild animals and the adults were constantly dropping heavy objects all day long. The husband seemed receptive when I complained, but they did not change their habits and the noise continued. They were renters and I did speak to the unit owner/landlord who barely did much to help the situation (he is a board member). The renters moved out in late June and the owner is renovating now because he plans to sell. I had hoped that when the couple moved out, I’d finally have some peace and quiet.
No such luck. The owner on the third floor is an elderly woman who keeps the volume on the television blasting ALL NIGHT LONG INTO THE MORNING. I tried approaching her, but she wouldn’t answer her door. I left her letters taped to her door that she apparently disregarded. I complained to the board and the property manager said he spoke to her. This woman’s behavior continues. I complained again to the board/property manager; two weeks have passed since I last said something and have not received any response. I can’t afford to insulate and at the moment I can’t afford to sell or move out either. There IS a rule in the condo’s regulations about noise, and they don’t seem to be enforcing it. I don’t want to have to be a pest or chronic complainer, and can’t afford an attorney.
What else can I do? Should I keep complaining until something gets done?
Mister Condo replies:
R.B., I am sorry that you are living with this unbearable noise. High density housing with upstairs and downstairs neighbors often comes with thin walls, floors, and ceilings that may require a tolerance for hearing your neighbor’s sounds at times when you desire quiet. Most associations have rules about acceptable noise limits and the hours when noise should be kept to a minimum. Have you reviewed your condo’s rules and regulations to see what the acceptable noise rules are? Are they strict enough that you would have a case if you seek legal help? My advice is that you review your association’s documents and see what your rights are with regards to peaceable enjoyment and what rules are in place to empower the Board to take action against noise offenders. Next, speak with an attorney to see if a lawsuit against the association is in order. I realize that there is an expense here but it is necessary if you are going to solve your problem. If the Board is unwilling to enforce the association’s rules about noise, you may need to force them to do so by taking them to court. Typically, this will motivate the Board to do the right thing, which may involve them issuing a warning and fines to the offending unit owner, who in turn should take action against the tenant. If an attorney advises you against a lawsuit because your case is weak, I am afraid the noise will likely continue. You might look at sound insulation or other possible solutions but from what you have told me, there is going to be sounds coming from above just because the building wasn’t designed to deaden sound between floors. It is an unfortunate situation to say the least. Good luck getting back your peace and quiet!