I moved into a ground floor apartment a little over a year ago. No long after two young men moved in above me. Within the first week I was constantly being awoken by loud stomping, heavy items being dropped, etc. They were pretty quite during the day and only made these types of noises after midnight. I kept giving them the benefit of the doubt, rationalizing that they were still getting settled, that they were young and out on their own for the first time and unaware that they were disturbing anyone.

After a few weeks I thought maybe they were getting drunk on a nightly basis. From previous experience with noisy neighbors (which I handled as poorly as could be imagined, only escalating it into a war that ended with police and my car being vandalized twice) I came to believe it was smarter to alter my habits that try to have strangers, who held me with low regard, alter theirs. I bought a white noise machine for the bedroom and eventually earplugs. It was not a great hardship on me and I thought another possible drama avoided.

About a month in I had water flooding into my bathroom. The apartment that butted up against my bathroom was vacant and being remodeled. I tried to call the emergency maintenance number on my lease and, of course, it was not a operating number. It was 11 pm. I heard the men walking around and I thought there was a chance that the water might be coming down the wall from their bathroom. I also needed to ask someone if they had a correct emergency number.

I knocked on their door and apologized for disturbing them and explained why I was there. I wouldn't say they were rude but there was definitely a coldness there. They couldn't help me. They had the same lease and no water was running in their apartment. Clearly they were annoyed at my late visit and I could understand that. I made my way to the next neighbor and thankfully they had a correct number.

The next day I wanted to mend any hard feelings I might have caused so I bought the guys a six pack of beer and left it at their door with a note on the bag saying that I was sorry to bother them last night. This wasn't how I had hoped to meet my neighbors. I also bought the young couple, who were able to assist me a bottle of wine, and left them a similar note.

In a day or so I say the young married couple in the parking lot and they thanked me for the wine and appreciated the thought. I also saw the two men who walked their dog regularly and they never mentioned the beer or note. I didn't bring it up but thought that it was strange that they didn't acknowledge anything. I remember being that age, about mid-twenties, and I often felt unsure about how to deal with people I didn't know. I just forgot about it.

Over the next 10 months there were instances when the guys were being loud during the day but not so much that I had any great concern.

I don't know what happened about mid December but suddenly they were stomping when they heard any sound from me at all. When I ran the vacuum they went nuts. When I had a phone call or friends over talking in my living room. Music from my Google speaker at the same low level I had played it all year sent them into rages of stomping and jumping up and down on the floor. They even followed me to different rooms if the heard me move.

Foolishly, I didn't approach them immediately, thinking that it would just blow over. I even became very conscious of any noise I might be making. The quieter I tried to be the more aggressive the stomping and door slamming became. I did not respond or clap back in anyway. I know when someone is picking a fight. After a month of this I began keeping a log and audio recordings of any noise I could capture, plus I made recordings of my activities and recorded my television volume, music volume and working late on the computer.

At this point, anyone could see it was deliberate, relentless and just plain harassment. I also had passed the point where I thought I could deal diplomatically with them. I went to the Property Manager with my problem and was told that all they could do was send a letter and perhaps talk to them. But if the tenants denied it or just ignored them there was nothing they could do. I probably should talk to the police. I knew this was most likely going to be their response. I decided to not officially make a complaint because I wanted to have all of my ducks in a row before I took action that, I am sure, is just going to escalate the problem.

At least Management knows of my concern and if there is property damage to my new car I hopefully can count on them to back me up to the police.

All this to ask...I am not sure how I should approach the police with a problem that hasn't happened yet. I don't know that they will be able to just take a complaint about harassment on my word alone. I'm also sure that they are going to ask if I have spoken to the neighbors about the problem. Something I know I'm going to have to do before I take many more steps.

Any advice on how to speak to people that you know are not going to be open to any conversation? It would be asinine to act like I didn't know what is going on. Now I have to rein in every impulse to fight back. It won't help me in the end if I have to take it to court. I don't think I'll have any quick resolution so I'm going to have to live with my decision to remain mum.

If anyone has been through something like this and was able to find a peaceful way to resolve it I would very much like hear any suggestions. Also, thanks to anyone who took the time to read this to the end even if you have no advice.

  • 6
    What do you mean "approach the police with a problem that hasn't happened yet"? It's happening every damn day and you have audio records and a log to prove it. This is not about interpersonal matters or someone vandalizing your car. This is about people harrasing you every day in your own apartment for no reason at all. Go to the police before your mental health suffers. Document their trampling and other actions and make their live hell for a change.
    – Elmy
    Feb 23 '19 at 15:39
  • 2
    My sympathy is with you. Feb 23 '19 at 16:43
  • To clarify, do you just want help on how to talk to your neighbor about the problem (without making things worse) so you can then tell the police that you tried talking to them? Or is your main goal to talk to them in order to make things better (and avoiding the need to involve the law)? Also, you might want to consider asking your question here: law.stackexchange.com
    – Ael
    Feb 24 '19 at 11:20

First of all, I sympathise completely - I had a noisy neighbour living below me in my first home and it was hell. You must realise though that if you can hear them, they can hear you just as clearly. Your ceiling is their floor. Although what they are doing sounds like they are just plain nasty, they are doing it in response to noise from your apartment. They may feel that you are the noisy one! Still, the way they are handling it is wrong and you shouldn't have to put up with it.

Your question is about what you could say to the police when they haven't actually done anything yet. Well, depending on the laws of your country, maybe they already have done something that would warrant contact with the police. However, there may also be other government agencies that would be more helpful at this stage. In the UK the local authority deals with environmental issues and noise abatement falls under that. You may need to make some enquiries of your own.

Also, if this is a rented property, have you thought about speaking to your landlord? Explain the situation to them and ask if they can do anything. Remember, you have been there a year. Your landlord has not had any complaints about you. You have a good relationship with the other neighbours in there (such as the couple that helped you and you bought wine for). If it came down to a choice between you and the noisy guys upstairs, the landlord would boot them out before you, because you have a proven track record with him whereas they do not. He really should want to keep you sweet because you are a good tenant. If he let you go and kept the noisy guys then he'd just get another complaint from whoever takes over your property, and no landlord wants that. They want stable tenants that stay and pay their rent without any trouble.

From my experience (although this is in the UK) the recommendation from local authorities is to try and resolve issues with your neighbours personally and peacefully before going down any "legal" route. It was suggested that I approach them and explain that I could hear them through the walls - this is because they believe that many "noisy neighbours" do not moderate their noise levels because they do not realise it can be heard. Unless your neighbours are stupid and don't understand the obvious rule of "if I can hear you, you can hear me", I would suggest that they clearly do know how thin the floor/ceiling is because they are stomping in response to what they can hear from you. For that reason you may feel that this is a pointless suggestion, but be prepared for the possibility that anyone you approach for help with this matter (council, police etc) may ask if you've been down this route first and possibly advocate that you do before they step in.

There is no harm in at least speaking to the police though, especially if you feel harrassed. Don't call the emergency number, just contact your local station and explain the situation as it is:

I'm living alone in an apartment and I feel like I'm being harassed by the two guys that live upstairs. They are really noisy during unsociable hours but whenever I make any normal noises in my apartment during the day they both stamp on the floor loudly and repeatedly. I think they are trying to intimidate me. Is there anything you can do?

  • 2
    The obvious rule of "if I can hear you, you can hear me" does not actually work. I have lived some places where all the neighbors could hear each other. I've lived other places where only the noisy neighbors could be heard. Different people have different levels of hearing sensitivity. And in an apartment where one can't hear any of the neighbors, it's easy to think that the walls are good at dampening out the noise, even if it's just that the neighbors are all very quiet.
    – Ed Grimm
    Feb 24 '19 at 1:29
  • @EdGrimm My point is that if you can hear them then it is possible for them to hear you - obviously, you'd have to be equally as noisy as them. If you can hear them shouting it doesn't necessarily follow that they can hear you speaking at a normal level, but if you can hear normal chatter then the walls are thin enough for it to be heard both ways. Do you think I need to spell that out? I thought it was too obvious to state.
    – Astralbee
    Feb 24 '19 at 20:31
  • 1
    My point is different people are different, and some of them need things spelled out. Most of the people I have encountered that needed things spelled out had frequent problems like this. I don't know if the OP is one of those people. I've not seen an indication one way or the other in their post. I guarantee if IPS SE lasts for a decade and this post isn't removed before the end of that time, more than a dozen people who need things spelled out will read your answer. I realize my post probably has things that need to be edited for various people, but I can't see my own blind spots.
    – Ed Grimm
    Feb 24 '19 at 20:36

You've talked to the property management, but if they just brushed you off like that, don't trust that they've been properly informed and will do anything. At least, as your landlord's representatives, they should have an ability to do more than just send a letter to your upstairs neighbors.

That said, harassing property management won't help anything. I'd advise you to at least consult with a housing lawyer/solicitor (the two terms mean the same thing, but which is used varies based on the country). Talking with an attorney doesn't mean that you'd have to follow through with a law suit, but one should be able to tell you what your options are, and how to follow through with them.

Another thing to consider is that if you can hear your upstairs neighbor that well, probably anyone you share a wall with and anyone they share a wall with can hear them fairly well. They can probably offer some perspective on who is a bigger nuisance. If you can get them to also complain, it won't be just one tenant against another. You should probably feel them out a bit rather than asking them to complain right away - if you come across to them the wrong way, you can wind up with a complaint against yourself instead.

This reminds me of a problematic neighbor situation I had back in the day. In my case, they were beside me rather than above me. At first, I felt sympathy for them, because the one tenant was partially deaf. They mostly just seemed to be noisy during the early evening. It was less than ideal, but if she couldn't hear well, it made sense that they'd yell a bit.

But the situation got worse, and after a few weeks, the property management contacted me to ask if my neighbor had been concerningly loud the prior Saturday afternoon. I explained I'd been away at work the prior Saturday afternoon, so I had no idea. About a week later, there was another incident, this time at 2AM Sunday morning. I talked to the property management the next Monday, and was told that with my complaint, they had complaints from the neighbor below, the neighbor behind, the neighbors across from, and finally the neighbor beside. The other six neighbors who at least shared a conceptual point with that apartment had all moved out, so that was the final straw and they began eviction proceedings.

I'd just moved in. Several others of the neighbors had also moved in. Most of the people who had moved out of the neighboring apartments had cited the noise as a major reason for moving. But the fact that those people had moved meant the property management didn't have an active tenant complaining. They needed complaints from at least six residents, or all of the residents of the occupied apartments, whichever was less, to get approval from the landlord to evict.

Although I'd like to think that the landlord I had at the time was on the extreme end regarding that sort of policy, I've heard of similar places having similar policies. At least among the places I've actually lived, most have had more sophisticated guidelines, which allow them to do noise monitoring in the area where there's been a noise complaint. But having those guidelines didn't necessarily mean they were motivated to follow them.

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