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  1. #1

    Exclamation What, if anything, can I legally do about very loud upstairs neighbors?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? California

    My husband and I have been living in this unit for almost three months now. Right away we noticed the people upstairs are incredibly loud. At first we thought they had half a dozen children with as loud as it is. After a few weeks of running and stamping around and kids screaming, I finally went upstairs and said I wasn't sure if they knew how much sound carried down, but could the please not let their kids run around inside? At the time they seemed nice, and the problem stopped for a few days. But only a few days.

    It started up again, worse than ever. The boom boom BOOM BOOM BOOM! of the running and jumping that goes on up there has literally resulted in pictures falling off our walls!

    A few weeks ago I went upstairs again, figuring it just slipped their minds, and they were very hostile and said I had no right to ask them to keep their kids quiet because "kids can't be controlled" and claiming it's too cold to let their kids go outside. 90 degrees is too cold? Anyway they said they were going to try getting me evicted for complaining to them and I had no right to expect silence when they sometimes can hear a door close down here. I describe this calmly, but it got hostile on their side and I was afraid the man was going to hit me.

    Now I'm not expecting silence. I know that some noise is to be expected. But running and wrestling (as they said their kids were just doing) and screaming go above and beyond what I think is reasonable, and it goes on sometimes for hours at a time. Also the doors have hinges that prevent them from being closed hard, even if you try to close them fast.

    Anyway I did complain to management after that, who told me there is nothing they can do aside from ask the people to keep their kids quieter or to move to a bottom floor apartment, but they can only do this if they're personally here when the people upstairs are being loud. I haven't managed to get anyone from the office to come here to listen to it, and video recording it is worthless.

    This has been going on for the entire time we've been here. I'm seriously afraid that they're going to come crashing through the floor at some point!!

    We, on the other hand, have tried our best to always be courteous. We don't vacuum after 8 in case the kids are in bed, keep our TV low (even though I can't hear very well, which means they must be VERY loud if I can hear as much as I do from them!), and don't call each other from different rooms in case our voices travel upward or through the walls. We do this not only for the benefit of the people upstairs, but for the people who live next to us who we've only once heard a peep from, and that was when some nails or something were hammered into the wall one day. I can't handle people being mad at me.

    Let's toss in a kink. I am disabled. My anxiety and stress leads to seizures (there's also some PTSD in there stemming from a long-term relationship where I was physically, mentally, and sexually abused, and from witnessing a suicide of a close relative after years of arguing loudly and violently and police involvement in my own home because of my parents- loud noises and angry sounds cause me to panic and hyperventilate and then anxiety builds quickly and I'm down with a seizure). I've had seizures that have caused me to stop breathing. The constant noise has me very tense. I am on SSDI long-term, which isn't easy at all to get. The management knows this. The amount of constant noise is having a negative impact on my health and my disability. There are days when the noise is so bad that I just can't take it anymore and I have to leave this apartment for my own sanity and safety. Seizures from the tension and stress aren't fun. The management KNOWS about this. They have been informed in writing, and I offered them copies of the evidence from my doctors and the government. I'm even in a handicapped unit in case a seizure comes on when I'm home alone or in the shower, so I have something to grab onto. I have a hard enough time being in public for longer than an hour or two on my own, and even then, even if I have someone I know with me, it's still hard. Too many triggers. I hate this so much. I wish I could be normal and actually enjoy amusement parks instead of ending up in bathrooms trying to calm down. I wish I could have enjoyed my own wedding instead of my heart racing and needing to leave our own reception half an hour into it. 30 people I know and love were too many at the same time to have around.

    We are in a lease that lasts another nine months. I really don't think I can handle another nine months of this. This is really awful. I otherwise love this apartment. It's gorgeous, and the area is amazing. I don't want to have to leave, but I can't fathom going through this for another nine months. To break the lease requires 30 days notice (of course) and an additional month's rent. We can't afford to pay for a month we're not here while also paying for that month somewhere else. But I also can't mentally or physically handle what's going on with the noise noise NOISE.

    I can't handle this anymore and I don't know what the legal options are when the management won't even talk to the people upstairs about not letting their kids run and run and scream and scream. I've got video'd evidence, as I've said that they won't even watch in lieu of never coming over here.

    Since they won't do anything, and this is having a negative effect of my confirmed and proven disability, do we have cause to break the lease with 30 days notice (or without) without having to pay an additional month? Really our ideal solution would be for them to make the people upstairs be quiet so we don't have to leave an apartment we otherwise love, especially when the cost of rent has gone up in the area, meaning we'd be paying more if we left. But that's just not happening here. They won't do anything.

    Please don't slam me for by disability. I get enough of that from people I know who think the only physical disabilities involve wheelchairs and crutches, and the only mental disabilities involve various forms of retardation rather than someone who can walk and hold an intelligent conversation.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Ho Ho Ho, Wouldn't YOU like to know ;)?
    Have you tried calling the police? Yes, its a civil matter. But it is their job to keep the peace. And this situation could so easily turn into a life-or-death situation for you with your documented medical issues. So, call the police. And management. And the neighbors each and every time it happens. And keep well-documented records of every occurrence and what you did about it.

    When you speak to management, mention to them a little thing called "quiet enjoyment". Its a covenant inherent in every rental agreement. The legal translation essentially means that you have the right to use & enjoy your rented space for the purpose it is intended. You were placed in a unit that provides disabled accommodations, so you can't easily be moved to another unit that would make it more convenient for you. Your right to quiet enjoyment is being violated by the management's inaction.

    The management CAN evict or move the noisy upstairs family to another unit. Perhaps you should consider filing a small claims case for nuisance against the family and management for failing to abate the nuisance. What's your health & sanity worth?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Philadelphia, PA
    Rather then asking another family to be inconvenienced because of your disability, YOU should ask to be moved to a top floor apartment. People walking on your head is not something you can get away from when you live with another apartment above you. You can't ask them to stop walking or ask their kids to stop being kids. You can change YOURSELF to a better situation, or you can turn your TV up louder so you can't hear them, or you can wear ear plugs when you need some quiet time. Your neighbors are entitled to quiet enjoyment too - even if their quiet enjoyment involves kids running around and playing, that's NORMAL kid behavior. The police can only take action when noise can be heard from outside the building.

  4. #4
    Families with children and persons with disabilities are both federally-protected classes under the Fair Housing Act. See: [url=http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/42/3604.html#]US CODE: Title 42,3604. Discrimination in the sale or rental of housing and other prohibited practices[/url], as well as [url=http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/FHLaws/yourrights.cfm]Fair Housing -- It's Your Right - HUD[/url].

    The noise level you are experiencing is likely due to the construction style of your apartment building, rather than any deliberate or malevolent intention on the part of your neighbors. Realistically, neither the managers nor the police can force children to refrain from running and playing in their apartment.

    The managers are in a difficult position here since legally, they cannot favor one protected class (persons with disabilities) over another (families with children). Legally, they cannot restrict families to a partiicular area of the building such as the ground floor. Landlords have been found liable for such policies, and other policies placing restrictive terms and conditions on families with children. The everyday sounds of children are not generally held to violate the covenant of quiet enjoyment.

    All of that being said, you're in a situation that is intolerable due to your specific circumstances, and the managers should be willing to assist you in finding a solution without violating the FHA. The law requires them to make a reasonable accommodation "in rules, policies, practices, or services, when such accommodations may be necessary to afford such person equal opportunity to use and enjoy a dwelling" (42 US Code 3604(f)(3)(b)).

    One option might be to transfer you to a unit on the top floor (a transfer to any other floor would leave open the possibility of a family with kids moving in upstairs). An alternative might be to permit you to move without requiring the lease-break fee. I'd recommend that you contact a local disability advocacy group for assistance. These groups often conciliate with landlords on disability-related issues and may offer assistance with moving expenses, and help in locating housing that's more suitable. A single-family home, townhome or "low-rise" development might be more practical for you. If cost is an issue, you might want to look into rental assistance programs for persons with disabilities.

  5. #5
    ECM, how many apartment buildings do you know of that have the ADA units on the top floors? None that I've found in this entire area. The ADA units are all bottom floor. I don't have the option to move upstairs. When emergencies happen, it would he harder for medical personnel to travel up and down stairs with a stretcher. These are brand new buildings, yet don't have elevators. Ear plugs don't keep things on the walls. I can't hang framed photos. After two broke from the stomping and jumping up there, I've had to take them all down.

    Deena, there's such a thing as noise that's from normal living, and it's quite another when the people admit they let their kids wrestle and jump rope inside and scream. They have a large patio (all these units do, surprisingly large), but they don't want their kids outside. This is deliberate. We're not the first people who've had problems with these people. I understand that sometimes you hear normal walking, or someone has to quickly rush from one side of a unit to another, toilets flush doors sometimes make noise, and so on. You don't think kids jumping rope and screaming is any problem though? For hours on end?

    The loud noise started at about 2 this afternoon for a non-stop stretch. It's after 8. It's still going on as I'm typing this. There have been a few nights where it's going on in the middle of the night, once until 3am.

    The managers won't let me move to another unit. I asked. I can break the lease and pay the penalties, but that's all they've said they'll allow. We can afford rent somewhere else, though it would be tight, if they won't do anything. Units don't come up available in this complex often at all.

    Does the law really protect people from not being parents and give people a free ride when it comes to their kids' actions? I get it that a manager can't direct families to certain areas or not allow families, but are families really immune from the sort of bad behavior that could get other people evicted? If that apartment were full of college frat boys who were loud all hours of the day and night, hooting and hollering and hosting indoor wrestling on a regular basis, they'd be told to be quiet or get out. But because it's a family with kids screaming and jumping and wrestling, it's protected by law? 5+ hours non-stop with the shaking being enough to actually damage my property is considered normal because it's kids?

    So if the managers can't do anything and those people have the right to let their kids be hellions for hours and hours on end, sometimes overnight, and it's enough to adversely affect my disability, and there aren't any other ADA units available and they won't let me transfer anyway, I'm just out of luck and have to suffer medical consequences? What kind of laws would make it so someone could possibly die so someone's kids can jump rope and shriek half the night causing things to fall off walls downstairs? For my own safety I've have to leave this apartment to go find somewhere to unwind so I don't have another seizure.

    If those kids can run and scream and jump and slam all they want, would it be fair game for me to turn the TV on very very loudly all night long because I can't hear very well? Probably not. I'd get in trouble. The law is serving to protect parents not parenting and the one who could realistically die is the one who has to suck it up.

    I would rather move out of here altogether instead of be paying a lot of money for an apartment I can't stay in sometimes. I just can't afford the extra month's rent as a penalty. The managers aren't willing to work with me on this. I've tried, and there's nothing they're willing to do. So what am I supposed to do, hope for the best and that I don't have another seizure where I stop breathing?

    Sandy, you are the only one who seems to have paid attention to it not being as easy as just moving me to another ADA unit. There aren't any available. Even if I were to take a regular unit, those aren't often available either, and the management isn't willing to let me transfer. I'm supposed to just deal with it, as I was told on the phone, because letting me move to another unit without penalty (another deposit while waiting the three weeks to get it back for this unit) could be taken as showing me preference over a protected-class family. So I am stuck here. I want out. A beautiful apartment in a great location means nothing if I can't be here when I want to be because six or more hours of non-stop, literally wall-shaking noise gets to be too much and I can't handle it. The thought of bringing in police makes me feel sick. That's how little stress I can physically handle right now.

    We would both rather be out of here at this point if this is going to end up being some long-term feud. I absolutely positively can not handle dealing with this on a daily basis as I have been for several weeks now. Every single day dealing with management about the people upstairs, and nothing happens, and I'm stuck here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Have you just asked the management to be let out of your lease and move to another place entirely?

    There is something about the right to enjoyment or something such of your home and it is something that should let you move with no financial consequences.

    You have my sympathy. I had a similar situation years back. The baby would wake up in the middle of the night and bang its crib against the wall for sometimes hours and the parents never even woke up. The landlord for me worked with me to have the child's crib moved away from the wall and asked the children to not jump off the furniture, etc. Since then I went to one story duplexes until I got my own home.

    If you make enough of a nuisance of yourself by explaining the problem over and over, politely, of course, to the management, you may find yourself on your way to the next top floor apartment available, at least.

  7. #7
    Yes, I've asked, and they said no which is why I'm wondering what the law actually says my rights are. I can't be locked into a place where other tenants are allowed to adversely impact my health, can I?

    They're expecting another baby, and I'm prepared for that. I know newborns cry when they're hungry, and there's a chance of a colicky baby that can't be calmed down (though if I had known this prior to moving in, I wouldn't have, but I also know managers can't tell prospective tenants this stuff). But you at least try right?

    They encourage the kids to run around inside. They've admitted it. That's the problem. They don't try to control noise, they encourage it. Ignoring a baby is neglect in a way ignoring kids jumping off things and screaming isn't. They don't mind the noise.

    I don't know how to be more of a nuisance than dealing with management every single day and elevating it to the western regional office. That's what I had to do to get the managers here to respond to me at all the first time they finally did. But the western regional office won't do anything if the complex managers here won't.

    I just want to move. It's after 9pm now and it's still going on. This isn't a one-time event either. This is a regular occurrence.

  8. #8
    Well, the force of the stomping upstairs caused a smoke detector to fall off the ceiling. The noise went on until almost 9:30. 7 1/2 hours. Hopefully it's over for the night. It's hard to sleep when you're expecting the noise to start again all the time.

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