How best to handle noise complaints against us, when I feel we are being reasonable? Since the first complaints we have been dialing down the noise in every way we can think of, but apparently it's not enough and we don't even know which neighbor is complaining, so we can't speak to them directly.
posted by marble to home & garden (49 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Several months ago, we got a formal written noise complaint from the landlord. We couldn't figure out what we were doing to cause it, and there were no specifics. It made a reference to stuff being done after 10:00 pm. I can't tell from the wording if it's *just* whatever they heard after 10:00 pm, or if we were being admonished for stuff prior to that hour or not.
We do not have parties or anything like that, we don't play loud music, and we live on the ground floor. We play videogames and watch tv and movies, and at a volume such that no one has complained until recently. (I have lived here for four years now).
Then a couple months ago we're playing SingStar, and a knock at the door reveals a policeman. They called the cops on us. For singing. Sigh. Really? The police? Anyway, I was pleasant and polite to the cop but I felt rather bewildered by the whole situation. I admit we do tend to turn up the sound on the tv when we play that game, because neither one of us likes how our voice sounds so we can drown it out with the actual artists singing. Okay, well, I guess it was too loud even though we never had trouble with it before. We haven't even touched that game since that encounter with the cop. It saddens me greatly, we used to have a great time playing it, but I can't figure out if the problem was that it was after 10 or just that we were playing it at all.
Overall we made an effort to make sure things were quieter, especially after 10. I'm talking things like headphones used for playing games and music, a quieter volume on the tv, and just plain going to bed earlier.
But then we got *another* formal written noise complaint from the landlord, on Wednesday.
What the hell? I am really frustrated with this. I don't know what to do. I don't know how many complaints before they try to evict us. I feel really powerless and upset. I honestly don't want to offend anyone with noise, but I think this person is being hypersensitive and at this point they may just be making bogus complaints to fuck with us (maybe they want us to be evicted so they can have the ground floor apartment? my mind is reeling). It's not like they have to provide proof. The landlord doesn't even have anyone on the property to corroborate a noise complaint past like 3pm, and we are at work til 5. So they can complain as much as they want, and they will be believed even if we are in bed at the time.
Our apartment is in a small block of eight. We have no idea which neighbor lodged the complaints, so we can't try to talk to them about exactly what they heard and when, and try to work with them to make sure we don't bother them. We are not assholes, we just want to be able to enjoy our entertainment.
This whole thing is making us paranoid. We watched Desperado last night, the last 40 minutes of which were after 10. I thought we shouldn't because I don't want any chance of them hearing anything, even on a weekend night. But we watched it so quietly that we could barely hear the dialogue, and turned it way down for every gunfight.
This is crazy. I hate living in fear like this, feeling so uncomfortable in my own home. If this person really is out to get us evicted, then there's nothing I can do anyway.
I thought about maybe writing a formal letter to the landlord explaining that we are surprised that our noise level has bothered anyone, but we are genuinely making a sincere effort not to offend (since the very first complaint), and would appreciate it if they could tell us when they actually hear noise so that we could figure out which thing it is that is causing the problem.
I'd like to talk to the neighbor directly, but I have this fear that the person is going to construe me even talking to them as harassment or something, and I'm rather pissed off at this point and am not sure if I could keep a lid on my obvious resentment coming through in tone of voice and facial expression. Also, I hate confrontation. I'd much rather write a letter if I could. But this is all moot since I don't even know which neighbor it is and the landlord likely won't tell me.
The landlord's latest note referenced paragraph 20 of my lease, and I think the part they refer to is (excerpted): "You and your occupants or guests may not engage in the following activities: [...] behaving in a loud or obnoxious manner; disturbing or threatening the rights, comfort, health, safety, or convenience of others (including our agents and employees) in or near the apartment community [...]". This is a standard Texas Apartment Association lease, and I live in Austin.
I'd really like to communicate in writing as calmly and reasonably as I can, but I'm scared even that will blow up in my face somehow. I'm supposed to sign my new lease soon but I haven't talked to the landlord since the last complaint so I'm not sure how pissed off they might be at me right now, or if they consider the complaints minor. I'm scared to even bring up the lease with them. New lease would be starting January 1st.
Anyway, I'm looking for advice as to how to approach this. I'd like to be able to enjoy my usual activities at home without feeling like I'm going to be evicted for it. And we have already gotten two levels quieter and it hasn't helped. Argh!