K.N. from Fairfield County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hi! I feel so lucky to have found your site. I am writing to you actually regarding my best friend. She has a neighbor upstairs. Most units are 2 stories in her complex. She has the downstairs of a split unit. I have sent her your website link and begged her to check out your site and reach out for help. I fear for her mental state because the woman upstairs is VERY INTENTIONALLY engaging in excessively noisy activities early every day which is causing her terrible stress and anxiety and obviously destroying her peaceful enjoyment of her home. I know every township or county have basic guidelines regarding noise and hours of the day. Every Saturday and Sunday she begins vacuuming her floors at 7:00 a.m. sharp. I know it may be OK at 8 a.m., but any knowledge you can share would be helpful. This woman once called the police during the late night when my friend had fallen asleep with her TV on. Naturally, their relationship is awful and I know my friend is intimidated since that incident and is always as quiet as she can be. Kindly, what are the noise ordinance hours Monday through Friday and Saturdays and Sundays?
Mister Condo replies:
K.N., you are quite kind to write to me on behalf of your friend and I am truly sorry that your friend is living with neighbor-induced stress and anxiety. Neighbor versus neighbor issues are always troubling and the reality is that the Board is only empowered to do what the by-laws instruct with regards to noise. You mentioned the town of residence in your original email (which I left out to protect your anonymity) but unless the town has specific noise ordinances that are being violated, it is unlikely that you will find relief through the town. Although, as you mentioned, your friend did get a visit from the local police for a loud TV playing in the middle of the night so it may be worth looking at local noise ordinances in case they can also work in your friend’s favor.
Almost all condo documents include provisions for noise. You need to begin with what is and isn’t allowed and see what, if anything, can be done. 7:00 a.m. versus 8:00 a.m.; weekday versus weekend; exact decibel level as opposed to “reasonable amount of noise”; all of these terms are likely to be included but, even so, do not guarantee everyone’s compliance. The idea behind peaceable enjoyment is very much the Golden Rule of “doing unto others as you would have done unto yourself”. That is a basic concept of civility and cannot be legislated or mandated. However, for your friend’s peace of mind, I hope that you and she will at least review the by-laws to see if her upstairs neighbor is in violation of any of the association’s noise rules. If so, she should file a complaint, in writing, to the association’s Board and/or Property Manager. The Board will review the complaint and decide whether or not the complaint is valid and if any action should be taken. Your neighbor can truly escalate the complaint by involving an attorney and bringing suit against the neighbor and/or the association. This is both costly and ill will building and not my recommendation but may prove to be her only practical remedy.
Alternatively, your friend and the upstairs neighbor could take it upon themselves to call a truce. My experience is that feuds like this almost always have their origin in trivial matters. For instance, perhaps the upstairs neighbor is carrying a grudge from the time your friend left the TV on all night. The bottom line is that people who live in high density housing arrangements like apartments or condos need to do one of two things to enjoy their homes. They need to get along well enough with their neighbors that they don’t drive each other crazy or they need to get out of the community and find someplace with more space so they neither disturb their neighbors with their noise nor are disturbed by their neighbors’ noise. Close quarters require that everybody get along. Good luck!