S.W. from New Haven County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Help, please! This is the first time I’m encountering noise from upstairs unit which prevents me from getting enough hours of sleep. Thank you.
Mister Condo replies:
S.W., upstairs condo neighbors can often create a lot of noise without even realizing they are creating a problem for the unit owners who live below them. High-rise style condos often have rules in place to help minimize the problem but not always. The first step would be to meet your upstairs neighbor. If you do not already know them, a quick letter will suffice. As politely as possible, explain that you are their downstairs neighbor and you are experiencing a noise problem from your ceiling which is their floor. Depending on the nature of the noise that is bothering you, they may be able to help by turning down a TV or stereo volume, moving a piece of exercise equipment, placing a throw rug on a hardwood floor, or just agreeing to keep it down during hours when you are trying to sleep. Of course, just because they are your neighbor doesn’t mean they have to behave neighborly and your request could fall upon deaf ears.
Now is a good time to review your condo documents and see what peaceable enjoyment measures are in place to help keep things quiet at your condo. Many times there are provisions for what type of floor coverings are allowed. For instance, carpet can help deaden noise and may be a required floor covering. If the upstairs neighbor has removed their carpet and installed hardwood or laminate flooring, which is quite popular these days, they may be in violation of condo rules and you can ask the Board to take action and have the problem remedied. If your by-laws state that there are hours designated as quiet time (10:00 p.m. – 8:00 a.m., for instance) then you may inform the Board that your upstairs neighbor is violating the rule and request that action be taken. Generally, the Board will issue a notice and ask the unit owner to appear before the Board to explain their side of the story. If the noise continues, the Board may fine the unit owner. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
Like all neighbor versus neighbor issues in condominiums, it really comes down to how people behave when faced with a “good neighbor” issue. I hope your upstairs neighbor is considerate enough to work with you to remedy the problem. If not, you will have to take action to correct the situation. All the best!