Sometimes I just have to say that solutions are not easy in some situations. It takes very reasonable people to work out a noise issue. If one or the other of the involved parties is not giving in any direction, it can become a nightmare for both parties, and can render units absolutely unmarketable because of necessary disclosures. Here is one such situation:
“ As many others I find myself in a very hard situation with our downstairs neighbors. Here is a little insight on the situation:
My husband moved to our condo in _____. I remember when he first moved he told me how happy the lady downstairs was as the previous owner of our unit used to walk on high heels until very late at night. My husband likes to sleep with a fan on at night and after a few months of him moving in the woman who was so happy to have him as a new neighbor started complaining about the fan vibration on the floor. That issue was quickly resolved by taking the fan of the floor and putting on top of something.
I moved in about 5 years later and the lady downstairs also had her son move in with her. Her son had an issue with my husband’s former roommate walking around but after I moved in the roommate left so that was resolved too. The next year however we had a baby and the complaints started all over again. The son downstairrs would bang his ceiling/our floors and come up to our condo a few minutes later and scream at me or my husband on how the noise was unacceptable.
From there on things only got worse, we had a second baby the Board was contacted but decided not to take the issue referring us to mediation.
With two kids we tried our best to minimize the noise caused by both kids interacting, we got rugs and recently changed the layout of our home putting all the kids things in their rooms, got some large foam pads and more rugs. We even stopped having peoplesover as they would complain every time our guests walked to the bathroom or kitchen.
I feel like we have done a lot to try to work with the downstairs unit. As the board tried to mediate us before they said they wouldn’t settle for anything less than having us redo our flooring (which came with the home. We didn’t upgrade it).
Also, the board told me when the previous owner did the conversion carpet/hardwood it was up to code with the technology available at that time.
Our kids, now 2yrs old and 8 months old are never up after 9pm, we try to spend the weekends out the house and still do not have guests over as most of our friend do not want to aggravate the issue.
Any tips on how to proceed? Are we doing anything wrong? We cannot afford to redo our flooring right now as both, me and my husband are currently unemployed and every penny counts. Is it unreasonable to maybe suggest they soundproof their ceilings?”
All I can say is this story could have been sent in by one of my children and her husband as they were in a similar situation only their downstairs neighbor called the police whenever they had company or thought the kids were too loud. Padding, area rugs, toys in an upstairs room further away from the downstairs neighbor, going out on weekends, having play dates at other people’s houses, and the kids bedtimes at 8pm did not alleviate the issues.
So they sold at a short sale and moved out as they were frustrated by the situation. Had they padded and carpetted over the hardwood flooring the developer sold them (to his advantage of course, making extra money), it might have helped. But their downstairs neighbor worked at home and wanted dead quiet and was unrelenting about it and it got to them.
So moving is one remedy, maybe not practical. Carpet and dense padding is another possible remedy, but some are unwilling to cover nice hardwood or laminate floors – whether they installed them or not. Using the excuse that one did not put in the floors so one does not have to remove them or cover them does not really work, if the noise rises to a nuisance and/or the neighbor below is unwilling to accept it and creates a counter nuisance.
These problems are seldom totally resolved by one side or the other, except when one side or the other moves and a tolerant neighbor or quiet family moves in.
Short of that, in order to get any lasting resolution, and avoid a fortune in legal fees if the battle rages on and all sides “lawer-up”, is to be willing to make concessions, find some forum for discussing resolutions (mediation, board internal dispute resolution meetings, understanding lawyers who are not looking for a litigation-driven meal ticket, or ADR – which I do not recommend), and reaching a WRITTEN agreement that spells out the concessions AND spells out a dispute resolution procedure.
And I will also say that some boards can be very helpful in providing a forum for getting together to find solutions and reach agreements, but many opt out prematurely without considering whether there is a bona fide nuisance situation that may be a violation of the governing documents.
That is the best I can do. It seems to me that many people are unable to resolve these issues without bringing in some objective party to suggest solutions and help guide them to some place of acceptance, even it’s not a perfect remedy.