M.D. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Hi Mister Condo! I am just celebrating my 1 year anniversary in my dream condo – yay! Only one problem; my downstairs neighbor. Let me start by giving you the layout. I live in a 2nd story garden unit and my neighbor’s living room is right next to my stairway. My living room has a half-wall that looks over my stairs. My neighbor is retired and loves to play his music/TV all the time. When this happens, I can hear the bass from the music or show in my unit. I don’t know about you but bass is almost worse than actual music. When I first moved in, I attempted to speak with him about the volume of his music and he denied the problem and turned it around on me saying I was loud.
Nothing was accomplished and afterward he started pounding on the walls when I walked and started leaving me nasty, condescending notes, basically threatening to tell the condo association that I was loud.
We had it out at a condo meeting and basically nothing happened. I have bought white noise machines, I try to keep my volume at a reasonable level but he seems to get enjoyment out of pushing me. If my TV is “too” loud, I notice he will turn the sound up on his TV to compensate. Now the light at the end of the tunnel is that he does leave for a few months during the winter but still leaves me with 6+ months of anxiety. Is there anything I can do to my side of the wall to lessen the noise? I am afraid I am going to have to sell the place because it is so bad. I have lived in apartments for 6 years and never dealt with a problem like this before. Help would be appreciated!
Mister Condo replies:
M.D., I hear you, loud and clear! The situation you have described here is all too common in apartments, condominiums, and other places where humans live so closely together. Basically, you and your neighbor have begun a feud. There is no simple solution because neither of you are wrong and neither of you are right. Your Board or Property Manager is not likely to get in the middle of two grown adults who are going at each other over noise wars. Clearly, your condo documents spell out what types of noise behavior are allowed. They may even go so far as to spell out hours of the day when it is required to keep quiet. If these rules are being broken by either of you and the other wishes to report it, you are both within your rights to do so. Otherwise, you are on your own to work things out between yourselves.
You may wish to speak with an acoustic wall or curtain specialist who may be able to help you deaden the offensive sounds by modifying the interior of your unit. There are modern materials that can help. Of course, you need to make sure that any modifications made to your unit are in accordance with your association rules and by-laws. Or, you could sell your unit and move to another unit within your complex if one opens up. You may have a dream condo but you have a nightmarish neighbor. Unfortunately, there are no rules mandating that neighbors behave politely or considerately. All the best!