What can we do to improve this bad home rental situation?
May 25, 2010 2:44 PM Subscribe
The proud new renters of the main floor of a very nice house settle in to discover that there is absolutely no sound barrier between the main and basement suite. They signed a long lease and feel duped. Now what?
posted by kitcat to home & garden (24 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm looking for advice and solutions regarding our new, less-than-ideal living situation.
With a baby due in September, my husband and I were looking to rent the main floor of a house - affordable, large, nice neighborhood, backyard. We found one that we both loved and, in an effort to win it over other potential renters, signed a two-year lease. We were told that the renter of the basement suite was a quiet, single woman with a full-time job. And, this is true.
However, it turns out that there is no soundproofing between the two suites to muffle our comings and goings and those of our downstairs neighbor. She could be the quietest person on earth and we would still be able to hear everything she does. I can hear her phone ring, her conversations, her music, her microwave. I can hear her clear her throat - while in the bathroom, no less, which means that she can hear me peeing. I worry about the tv and radio being too loud. Forget about sex being private anymore. I was utterly freaked out about the bed creaking during an attempt to be amorous last night. I've been walking throughout the house on my tip toes. I don't know what to do.
We've talked with the downstairs tenant and we've laughed together about this whole situation, but it's really not all that funny and I don't know what to do. She's incredibly nice and she's really the one with the short end of the stick, because she gets to hear our footsteps.
She has been living here for nearly a year now and was aware of the lack of a noise barrier, but it hasn't been a huge problem in the past because the last upstairs tenant worked out of town for 3 months at a time. Our landlords didn't warn her that a couple expecting a baby would be moving in above her. She told us that her lease is up in August that that she'll probably be leaving. This means we could end up with a much louder tenant below come the end of the summer.
Suggestions? Advice? What should we do? We are not considering breaking our lease and moving again. I also don't think we can expect a rent discount; the landlords have already reduced it by $50/mo for signing such a long lease. Is there a way to convince the landords to properly soundproof, or would that be too difficult and too expensive? There is no carpet in the suite, which can't help, and I also think the noise is travelling up through the heating vents (they are the small, rectangular type built into the floor). But my husband is a carpenter, and maybe he could do it in exchange for rent discounts? Do we have extra leverage given that we could try to interfere with the renting of the downstairs suite (Oh, you're showing the place tomorrow? [invites prenatal class over to practice uninhibited grunting, wailing and other pain noises...])
If we have to just put up with this, how do we do it? How to overcome the psychological ickiness of knowing everything you do is being heard?
I truly appreciate your help; I'm trying to laugh about this, but it's definitely distressing.