J.J. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I am unhappy with the level of noise from my upstairs neighbor. This mostly happens between 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM and each session lasts for half and hour or more. They use treadmill or other exercise tools. As soon as they start exercise over the machine, my ceiling and sidewalls starts shaking up with loud noise. The ceiling fan dance all the time during these sessions. I have an infant of 7-month old who is not able to sleep while all this activities are in practice. I am afraid that it might lead to my infant child ill-health who has been deprived of mostly needed sound sleep.
I can handle infrequent loud noise, but this has become too much to handle. It has interfered with my family sleeping habits, and contributed to migraine headaches. I requested my Condo management to talk to my upstairs neighbor but instead of talking to that neighbor the management responded to my email as follows:
“Prior to sending a violation notice from the Association, you will need to try the neighborly approach first and try to work this out on your own. Most likely, they have no idea this is causing a loud noise beneath them. Please touch base with them the next time you hear the noise. Usually, neighbors can come to a friendly agreement. If for some reason, this approach does not work, please send me an email and with the outcome of your discussion with the neighbor and the details (days/times) of the noise.”
I don’t want to go in discussion with my neighbor just in case he is not tolerant or polite. What should I do? My management has thrown the ball back to my court. I would like my management to point out to them that perhaps they do not realize that they make so much noise and disturb others.
Mister Condo replies:
J.J., neighbor versus neighbor complaints at condominiums are always a difficult issue for everyone involved. At the heart of the matter is who can do what to get the neighbor to behave better. The Property Manager can only do what the rules allow and what the Board of Directors will enforce. The Board of Directors can only enforce what is in the condo documents. Sometimes, the police are called. They don’t enjoy these issues either because there is usually a question as to whether or not any laws have been broken. It becomes a situation where the ideal solution is for the neighbors to work it out and a figure a way to peacefully coexist.
I actually agree with what your Property Manager is telling you. However, you do not need to physically confront your neighbor if that makes you uncomfortable. You can send a letter instead and use the exact words of the email that was sent to you. Also include a heartfelt note about what you have told me here. Offer to meet with the neighbor to settle this in a neighborly fashion but explain that a meeting is not necessary. You just want to find a way for each of you to enjoy your unit and not drive each other crazy with noise.
Take a look at your condo’s rules about peaceable enjoyment. Noisy activities are likely limited to certain times of day. You can ask the Board to enforce any provision that bans a particular type of behavior. However, the times you have mentioned aren’t likely to fall into that category. How about the weight of the equipment and the type of flooring material on which it rests? A treadmill on hardwood would make a lot more noise than a treadmill on a carpet and rubberized floor mat.
The bottom line is that it takes patience and resolve to straighten out a situation like this. The Board and the Property Manager have very limited powers, especially if no specific rules are being broken. I have seen situations like this escalate to minor warfare with neighbors blasting TVs and stereos at each other at all hours. Please don’t let this happen to you. I hope your neighbor is as reasonable about this issue as you seem to be. Good luck!