How do I handle noise disturbance from elderly tenants? (MA)
November 11, 2018 7:10 AM   Subscribe

I'm managing a duplex in Massachusetts. I'm not affiliated with any sort of property management company, just doing this as a favor. The tenants one apartment are elderly and disabled. We installed railings for them, they're in contact with their grandkids, and they have aides and probably nurses who regularly come to their home. The problem is, one of them has started screaming and crying during the night. The other tenants had to move their bedroom, and they can still hear the sound clearly in the bathroom. I asked if the elderly tenants could address the disturbance issue, and it's improved a little, but it's still going on. The owners and I are working together on how to best resolve this. What do we do?

It's spelled out in the lease that tenants can be evicted for noise disturbances "at the option of the landlord." It does not specify a time period, but my understanding is that in Massachusetts, 30 days is the time period to put in a cure/quit notice. Of course, is an eviction notice the appropriate next step? The more I look at this, the more I'm thinking we should hire a lawyer, but any advice would be welcome.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh my god. Please DO NOT rush to evict an elderly, disabled couple because one of them is screaming and crying at night.

I can’t believe I even have to type that out. You will be actively amplifying whatever difficulties they have. You will be enabling unethical behavior, whether or not it’s legal.

I am an architect. This is the fault of shoddy construction. Ultimately this the fault of the owner/original builder who skimped on the necessary sound isolation design/materials. This is fixable with an acoustic engineer and a contractor. Will it cost money? Yes. Buildings are expensive. But cutting costs to save money, which then has noticeable impact on the quality of a space, and then blaming it on an elderly disabled couple, and using the law to evict tenants who don’t abide by that law —- this is the worst way to shirk responsibility from an owner to tenants.
posted by suedehead at 7:22 AM on November 11, 2018 [60 favorites]

I beg you not to evict these people. It is likely in my experience that one of them has some kind of dementing disorder and is screaming and crying in pain and confusion - something which is horribly distressing to their partner and carers. A near relative recently died after a long, long struggle with dementia, fortunately in a home that she and her partner owned, but I don't know what our family would have done if they'd been renters evicted because she made too much noise in her agony and suffering.
posted by Frowner at 7:30 AM on November 11, 2018 [14 favorites]

Yes, please look at engineering solutions.
posted by lazuli at 7:32 AM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I agree that evicting them would be terrible, but remember that the OP isn’t the owner, but the manager, and so isn’t the ultimate decision-maker. Exhortation to be humane is good, but ideas to solve the problem so the owner doesn’t insist on eviction are better.

And I haven’t got any beyond, vaguely, soundproofing.
posted by LizardBreath at 7:50 AM on November 11, 2018 [17 favorites]

Unethical to enforce a contract? Meh. You are perfectly within your rights and you would be doing nothing unethical. What if it were a small child making the noise?

Having said that, I would not make eviction my next step. I would have another conversation with the couple and thank them for their efforts so far, but ask them if there is anything else they can do. Maybe there are some cheap fixes such as hanging a heavy duty curtain across the adjoining wall. Maybe they could move their sleeping area too.

I would also talk to the aggrieved dwellers. If the only sound they can hear is from the bathroom, can they live with it? Might a temporary say $100 per month rent reduction compensate them? That might be less expensive than curing the sound problem.

Maybe even facilitate a meeting of the two parties. I am not sure if that makes sense, but worth exploring.

If all else fails maybe talk to the grandkids informally. Then evict.
posted by AugustWest at 8:00 AM on November 11, 2018 [14 favorites]

This sounds like a really difficult situation for their spouse. Is it not possible that the person screaming and crying needs more care than can happen in this apartment? Maybe the spouse needs some validation that something extreme is happening so they have permission to find a different plan of care. I think its okay to let them know this is a serious issue and that eviction is on the table, so they can start coming up with different solutions, possibly their family can help. I dont see how guilt-tripping this manager is going to solve anything. I had a parent with dementia, and you dont get to just ignore the problems because of ethics. Something is going to need to change.

(Also, I dont know what people think soundproofing can realistically achieve. I can hear people screaming in their houses across the street from me. And in the past I lived in a literally 800 year old building in Switzerland, with 3ft thick stone walls, and I could still hear loud things in other apartments. The piercing sounds of screaming travel very far and very easily.)
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 8:00 AM on November 11, 2018 [12 favorites]

Has anyone told the aides or grandkids about this in case it is a medical situation that should be addressed?
posted by dayintoday at 8:01 AM on November 11, 2018 [15 favorites]

I suspect the owner insisting on eviction would quickly start running afoul of fair-housing laws. It would likely be helpful to start brainstorming with the assumption that eviction is off the table, or at least not a reasonable first step.
posted by lazuli at 8:02 AM on November 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

The family needs a bit more professional support than what they're getting. It sounds like he's actually got decent support now but things have gotten worse and they need more.

I think this is a good cop/bad cop situation for you. You're the good cop. I would say something like "The situation needs to be changed. I'd like for you to stay, but we need to address this. Who can we talk to to find a solution?"

The answer might be talking to a nurse (and a nurse is way more qualified than an aide), a case manager who can hook you up with the right person, etc. This is a common problem, and there are ways to handle it. But you and the family aren't qualified, you need medical professionals in here!

It is most definitely a medical problem.
posted by selfmedicating at 8:04 AM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

The suggestion above at a medical level is spot on.

Another solution: talk with an acoustic engineer who can do a walkthrough. Don’t talk to anyone who uses the term “soundproofing” - the term is “sound isolation” and I was taught that soundproofing is a shibboleth term that will help discern who has been trained.

(Hi LizardBreath, this isn’t a reference to how you used the term! Just a fun/helpful fact.)

At the frequency of human voices, only mass will dampen/isolate sound, so foam/rugs/etc won’t make a large difference. Find an acoustic engineer, or a contractor specializing in acoustics who can tell you where the noises are coming from and can suggest solutions - pumping in insulation, adding additional layers of sheetrock with isolation compound, replacing a run of ductwork with insulated ducts or acoustic dampers, etc.

Sound isolation can do a lot. The older the building, often times the worse the isolation, as there are air gaps where sound can travel through, or uninsulated single pane glass, etc.

And remember, the legal rights bestowed upon you by a contract does not make it ethical, only (maybe) legal. The law has historically never been the arbiter of ethics, nor will it ever be.
posted by suedehead at 8:05 AM on November 11, 2018 [14 favorites]

An eviction notice is not a humane next step and may be actively illegal. If dementia is causing it, that is a disability- with major life impairment. You would be evicting someone for a direct result of their disability, which violates a ton of federal laws and probably some state laws.
posted by corb at 8:06 AM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

I agree that evicting them is ungreat, but the other tenants have rights too. If they start calling the police, which they could for multiple reasons, this is going to be incredibly unpleasant for everyone involved but will give you all the legal groundwork you need for eviction - the laws in most states are not incredibly generous to non-mobility disabilities, and dementia isn't always a qualifier for that kind of disability protection please check your local laws and don't take the word of me or anyone else here about what does and doesn't qualify.

I think you should find out what the legal obligations and restrictions are here before you pick any next steps. There may come a point where the older couple may need you to evict them to qualify for additional care, but if it comes to the point where they ask you to do that you still need to do so in a legal fashion. You also need to know what you can/can't/shouldn't do if the other tenants escalate. Then, armed with your restrictions and obligations, you can go to the owner and find out what they're willing to do (the laws don't favor tenants here, and the owner may be under all kind of moral obligations here but very few legal ones, and if they don't have or want to spend the money, there's nothing you or anyone else can do about that), and you can go to the tenants/family armed with all that and go from there.

(While your finding out your legal situation here, you should probably go ahead and find out what to do if it gets bad enough that neighbors who are not also your tenants are also complaining.)
posted by Lyn Never at 8:21 AM on November 11, 2018 [8 favorites]

Can you speak with the grandkids or carers?
Before considering eviction which is a sort of last measure consider perhaps a more humane approach?
And also, if it is now only audible in the bathroom, during the night, how bad is this really? Do the other tenants threaten to move out? Are there other issues between the tenants?
We live in a 120 year old urban house of ca 20 apts, and for the last 8 years there was an old person living above us, with carers and her daughter. The old lady went through phases of screaming at night, loud and horrible. It w s audible in every room of our apt. She died last year.
We actually never complained after it became clear that she was well taken care of and the screaming at night was a result of dementia. It was unpleasant but it is also the right of an old person to live at their home.
I doubt insulation etc will work. I think if the owner wants to invest money paying for professional mediation might be more useful.
posted by 15L06 at 8:32 AM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Please do not evict these people. These aren't college students partying all night long. It sounds like the tenant is sundowning, and as others have pointed, that can be a sign of dementia or delirium. It's quite distressing, but a lot of it can be managed with environmental/behavioral changes.

Tips for reducing sundowning, from that article:
Try to maintain a predictable routine for bedtime, waking, meals and activities.
Plan for activities and exposure to light during the day to encourage nighttime sleepiness.
Limit daytime napping.
Limit caffeine and sugar to morning hours.
Keep a night light on to reduce agitation that occurs when surroundings are dark or unfamiliar.
In the evening, try to reduce background noise and stimulating activities, including TV viewing, which can sometimes be upsetting.
In a strange or unfamiliar setting, bring familiar items — such as photographs — to create a more relaxed, familiar setting.
Play familiar gentle music in the evening or relaxing sounds of nature, such as the sound of waves.
Talk with your loved one's doctor if you suspect that an underlying condition, such as a urinary tract infection or sleep apnea, might be worsening sundowning behavior, especially if sundowning develops quickly.

posted by basalganglia at 8:34 AM on November 11, 2018 [5 favorites]

Unethical to enforce a contract?

Yes, sometimes it is. In fact, there's a whole legal doctrine about contracts that have unconscionable provisions, because even lawyers realize that "you agreed, it's okay" is not always an acceptable way to deal with other human beings.
posted by Rock 'em Sock 'em at 8:41 AM on November 11, 2018 [26 favorites]

While they may be having medical issues beyond the mobility issues that we've worked with, I don't have any insight into what is going on medically speaking, and I don't have any contact information of their relatives or aides. Their medical situations are not something I have knowledge of or control over. I am also leery of getting involved with any of their medical issues because of the increase in liability. To be clear, no one wants to evict them; we want to set up an advantageous legal situation in the event that this issue cannot be resolved by other means. Also, if there is a way to pursue things legally that gets them additional medical care or subsidized housing with in-home care, I would like to do that.

The elderly couple has lived in this duplex for about a year, and the other tenants have been here for two weeks. They could, quite reasonably, break their lease due to the long duration noise disturbance in the middle of the night. I don't think it would be unreasonable for them to do so. I also think it will be difficult to re-rent the place given the yelling and crying. I specifically screened tenants for a tendency toward being relatively quiet, given the shared wall in an older building and an attic that bounces sound easily.

The duplex was built in the 1950s, and I suspect it'd require substantial modification to be acoustically engineered, and I'm uncertain how effective the modifications would be. That said, it would be great to hear people's experiences, effective or not, on this point. Also, suggestions for acoustic engineers near Springfield, MA would be welcome. My initial google search didn't turn up anything obvious.
posted by Sockmanager at 9:09 AM on November 11, 2018

If the sound can only be heard in the bathroom, and they confirm that, my thoughts are that all reasonable accommodations have been taken, and that as a result they'll have to be make some comprises too. We all deal with neighbors when we live in high density situations and we have to modify our responses. Heavy bass music is expected to be turned down. An elderly neighbour having health issues can and should be a compromise.
posted by Ftsqg at 9:18 AM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

The sound can be heard in one of the bedrooms (shares a wall) and the bathroom.
posted by Sockmanager at 9:20 AM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

(I am a landlord on the side but my main business is in senior care.)

Piling on the landlord to solve all social ills is not the solution under most circumstances and it is especially not the solution here. Elderly tenant screaming every night is WAY above a landlord's pay grade.

I am especially aghast at people calling this "sundowning". The person screaming needs geri psych to take them out of the dementia anxiety hell that's causing them to scream, and the person crying - yes it may very well be that the person crying is NOT the same person as the person screaming - needs their own help ASAP, because the screaming spouse is almost certainly physically lashing out at their partner (especially dangerous if it's the physically more dominant husband). Personally I would involve the police but if you are against the police on principle (smart if the tenants are not white) at the very minimum landlords are mandated reporters in MA so I would call the number in the link to report.

(One of the main reasons to involve the authorities is that IME families are usually 10 steps behind and in willful denial about the severity of their loved one's situation so you can't rely on the fact that this elderly couple has aides and talks to their relatives on the phone.)

Basically, I would treat this is as a crisis/abuse/neglect type situation and not as a tenant/noise type situation. The elderly tenants are simply not fit to live independently anymore and the family or the state need to step up, not the landlord.
posted by rada at 9:51 AM on November 11, 2018 [57 favorites]

the other tenants have been here for two weeks.
I think it's clear why the previous tenants moved out, regardless of whatever reason they may have given. Honestly, it might be cheaper in the long run to just let the new tenants move out without penalty (and, frankly, if they were screened for being suitable for living in a "quiet" place, the owner should pay them to move out). Then leave the apartment vacant for a while and take any appropriate steps toward helping, and likely, helping to medically relocate, the screaming and crying tenants.
posted by sageleaf at 9:57 AM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

In re the screaming and crying: There's not always stuff to be done. It is not always the case that anything is wrong beyond the process of the disease, and you would be - will be, if you have bad luck - fucking astonished at how little and how low-grade help is available for people in medium-late stage dementia. Someone can be getting appropriate treatment, appropriately medicated, screened for infections, not ready for hospice - and still screaming and crying. If you are ever dealing with someone with medium-late stage dementia, you too will learn that very bad, difficult to manage symptoms are not necessarily signs that something is being done incorrectly. And there are a variety of very good medical reasons that "drug them until they can't cry" is not usually the chosen solution. Do not assume that this situation is the result of abuse, denial or someone fucking up.
posted by Frowner at 10:10 AM on November 11, 2018 [10 favorites]

The Area Agency on Aging is Greater Springfield Senior Services.They would be, at the very least, a good place to start and a source of referrals and information.
posted by virago at 10:24 AM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I agree that it would morally suck to evict elderly tenants who are infirm and/or demented, but also, you are not operating a nursing home. When an elderly person screams every night, they need significant care and they are not getting it. Your role as the property manager is probably to have an uncomfortable but important conversation with their responsible party, if that is a kid or grandkid, to let them know that you have been made aware of a need for increased care that living independently is no longer compatible with. If the family is not responsive to this, you need to think of this situation as an elderly neglect issue, not a noise issue.

The building you manage is not set up to be a memory care facility. You do not have the expertise to know on any given night whether the screaming is "harmless" or requires a call to 911. All you can do is tell the other tenants on the other side of the duplex to call 911 every time they hear the screaming, and that's going to ultimately result in the seniors being moved in a way that makes it even harder for them and their family because of governmental oversight and enforcement. You can't stop the neighbors on the other side of the duplex from reasonably calling 911 every time their hear ongoing screaming, and the elderly couple's caregivers need to know that.

For folks who are saying "You need to make compromises, would you evict a family for a child who screams a lot?" and "You can tell someone to turn down their bass but this is a vulnerable senior" - there is a really big difference between a small child having a tantrum who is being cared for by parents, an adult who chooses to turn up their music or not, and an adult who literally SCREAMS overnight every night. Think about an adult just screaming. Screaming. This is not a tantrum. Dementia screaming is loud, horror-movie screaming that can go on for hours. What does it mean when a fully grown adult just screams and screams all night long? It is torture for anyone who hears it, and it is also agony for the person who is screaming.

I recommend bringing on a lawyer to help you determine your next steps - not someone who is an eviction expert, but maybe a standard housing lawyer. Someone whose experience is primarily to help seniors stay in their homes will know the law backwards and forwards in relation to your situation, and can give you better and more neutral advisement and possibly referrals as well.
posted by juniperesque at 10:24 AM on November 11, 2018 [24 favorites]

There are certainly cases where the dementia causes aggressive behaviors and nothing can be done about it but that is beside the point in this particular situation. One, this needs to be figured out by the geri psych - those witnessing the screaming can't simply say "this could be one of those hopeless cases" and not even try to do anything about it. Two, these types of symptoms are not going to be present in someone who can otherwise live independently - that person needs to be housed in a place that has staff skilled in dealing with these issues and housing accommodations such secured exits, no access to a stove, and so on. Three, people tend to forget about the spouse - and IMO it's unconscionable to subject the non-dementia spouse to emotional hell and likely borderline physical abuse on the premise that the dementia spouse might have a moment of clarity every now and then where they can recognize that they are in their home and feel comforted by their partner. Which again, none of these three are for the landlord to figure out.
posted by rada at 10:42 AM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

XThe elderly tenants certainly have rights related to their disability but so do the other tenants to quiet enioyment of their home. This sounds like it would be difficult to defend on the part of the screaming household, no matter how sad their situation is (and it IS very sad). I’m afraid this means the screaming person is quite unwell and needs more help than they are getting now. Contact the carers and family then if it continues another month contact a lawyer and begin eviction proceedings. Let the family know there is a time limit so they aren’t taken by surprise if it comes to eviction. The other tenants have rights that the ill tenants don’t trump. Unless these tenants want to pay the rent for both units and one is left vacant, or you find a tenant who works nights and wouldn’t be subjected to frequent prolonged screaming. I’ve worked in a nursing home, it’s awful for everyone, patient, roommate, carers, everyone. Sadly, it often signals a shift in the illness where the patient gets worse so this may lead to a move either way.

It will be better for the ill person and their spouse to receive more/better care than this.
posted by RichardHenryYarbo at 10:54 AM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

It’s really hard to determine if evicting them would force their hand into a higher level of care which would ultimately benefit them, OR if it would simply disrupt their lives which people with dementia have a really hard time recovering from.

You are the apartment manager, not a social worker. Just do what you think is right.

Sometimes I’m like, I just want to die knowing I’ve done good things. In this situation letting them stay and having a frank discussion with their family members is the good thing to do.
posted by pintapicasso at 11:47 AM on November 11, 2018

Soundproofing is really not as expensive as you might think, and done well makes a HUGE difference.

I soundproofed the ceiling and party wall my NYC studio apartment and it basically eliminated all footsteps on the hardwood floors, TV noise, talking on the phone noise, moving furniture around noise. My apartment became a calm and quiet oasis. And I didn't even lose a lot of space/ceiling height.

Really, this is not a big job and will ultimately make the space more valuable for future renters or in a sale. This is a capital investment and the owner will probably be able to write off some of the expense on their taxes too. Talk to the owner, get some estimates. This is a solvable problem.
posted by brookeb at 12:46 PM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Dementia is a holy hell for the demented person and for the caretaker. Families tend to hold it together however they can for as long as they can, until they can't. And the decision to consider residential (nursing home or similar) can be wrenching. I know multiple couples who have vowed and promised "never to put you in a home", and who have practically beggared themselves trying to keep this vow. It's beyond difficult. They are probably not going to agree to transition to the next level of appropriate care, whatever it might be, without significant pressure and anguish.

I agree with rada above, who advises alerting the next level of outside professional who can bring this situation to a head. Nor sure what the regs are in your area, but this situation is unlikely to improve without significant intervention. The noise is not the problem, and a sound engineer will only mask the problem. Please don't do that. It strikes me as a Gothic solution, rather than one that might help both partners.

Working through it with senior services in your locale is one choice you might pursue. They definitely have social workers who can take referrals and will know what to do. If referral to the state is required, they will know the best way to do it and will follow up. The patient will receive more appropriate care and the caretaker will have meaningful assistance.

I would start with a conversation with the tenants so you (and the landlord) are seen as sympathetic people who are trying to help with an awful family situation. The caretaker, in his heart of hearts knows this is not getting better and is panicking over what happens next. Then a call to social services.
posted by citygirl at 12:46 PM on November 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

I second the recommendation of juniperesque to meet with an attorney who has a background in senior housing law.

And when you do ("you" should definitely include your friend, the landlord, as well as you, the OP), ask whetherthe state's
Tenancy Preservation Program would be applicable in this case.

The Tenancy Preservation Program mediates between landlords and tenants when there's a risk of eviction due to a tenant's disability (the program's definition of disability includes aging-related illnesses).

Tenancy Preservation works to find either a) a way to keep the tenant(s) in their current rental housing or b) affordable housing that meets the needs of the tenant(s) in another location.

Some cities in Massachusetts are also piloting a program called Upstream, which offers the same services that the Tenancy Preservation Program does -- but the services are offered prior to the tenant (s)' being served with an eviction notice.

Here's the Tenancy Preservation Program website.
posted by virago at 12:53 PM on November 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

The Upstream Tenancy Preservation Program apparently succeeded in its pilot phase and is being expanded.
(For more information, scroll to the paragraphs following the subheading "Pilot program intervenes before eviction proceedings begin.")

I would definitely explore whether Upstream is an option for you and your tenants. It sounds like the most humane way to proceed.
posted by virago at 1:04 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

The tenants do have the right to "quiet enjoyment," but you're going to have to carefully deal with the rights of the elderly tenants as well. As a landlord who has dealt with something somewhat parallel (disturbance caused possibly by a disability), my advice would be to level with them that this situation is going to take awhile to resolve for legal and other reasons, and that if they want to break the lease at any point as a result, you won't charge any penalty and just ask for some minimal amount of notice, like two weeks. You're sorry, etc., and you're doing XYandZ to find answers, but there's not a silver bullet here given that the other tenants also have legal rights and that you want to be sensitive to their medical issues, so you just want them to know that if it isn't working for them, you'll be happy to be flexible about an early departure.

I'd be quick to cut a deal with either party if they ask. E.g., if the downstairs tenants point out that they just paid $350 to movers to move in, I'd reimburse that.

Sometimes just being really communicative all around and trying your best to resolve something (and letting them know) can help create the goodwill necessary to get through these tougher situations.

I'd also look into soundproofing, but I'm a bit skeptical based on my own attempts here, so my personal inclination would be to start by meeting with the various parties to discuss, and put that slightly on the back burner to explore second, after you have a conversation about what's really going on.

Also, yeah, consult a lawyer. There are a lot of possible legal pieces to this, so you want to know where you stand. I've found more success by taking a human (/generous) approach than when I've been more legalistic about things. You might have the legal right to evict them, but if you go that route and they get legal aid attorneys involved to try to fight the eviction, you might be looking at a lot more cost and delay than you'd be looking at by having a few conversations with their support crew about how they clearly need more help at night.. how whatever they just tried didn't work... how it still isn't working and have they considered assisted living. You want to know their rights and your liabilities and duties, though, so a check-in with an attorney would be smart.

Anyway, good luck.
posted by slidell at 3:08 PM on November 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

Sockmanager: For a project this size, you're probably better off with a contractor who can do the work themselves / has engineers in-house. In general, the recommendation will probably be to A) install additional sheetrock with isolation compound / isolation clips, B) build another wall in front of the wall,

You could call this company for recommendations for contractors, or see if this company to see if they'll do it. Looks like they're all in your area.
posted by suedehead at 3:54 PM on November 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I apologize for posting again but I just wanted to make sure that you don't think of the couple as a unit that either stays together or goes together. It is quite common for one spouse to stay in their current home while the other spouse moves into a Memory Care facility.

Also the average length of stay in a geri psych unit is 1-2 weeks so if the disturbed spouse goes there now, everyone will get a little more time to make any decisions and/or legal arrangements.
posted by rada at 6:15 PM on November 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

dementia is more likely than spousal abuse or carer abuse but it is not the only explanation for one half of an elderly couple being in loud distress on a nightly basis. it is terrifying to see people pick up the suggestion and run with it like it's both proven fact and the only possibility. it is likely, and it would explain things. that's not the same as knowing it's true.

I asked if the elderly tenants could address the disturbance issue, and it's improved a little, but it's still going on.

Which one did you ask, the screamer or the spouse? do you know which is which?

these are things you might ordinarily consider to be none of your business and not your problem, but think about this long enough to eliminate it as a reasonable possibility before you recommend a move towards eviction.

maybe calling social services is the best way to deal with this no matter what the reason. they need help even if nobody is hurting them but their own body and mind. but that a person could scream and cry every night, and nobody call 911 or come to see if they're being hurt or need help -- like I say, it's frightening.
posted by queenofbithynia at 6:16 PM on November 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

I’m going through something like this now.

An elderly neighbour's son has severe mental problems and keeps me up several nights a week, screaming at his mum or himself. He's also yelling out the window at people on the street, so no amount of soundproofing could remedy that. He drags furniture around, waking up the people below. The police can’t do anything but knock at the door. She hasn't been able keep her son away. It's been ruining my life at a very fundamental level and I'm powerless to do anything about it.

Your couple's neighbours might wind up unemployed if they're showing up sleep deprived every day. They may have their own family, health, depression and anxiety issues to deal with.

If a person can’t stay quiet, they need to be evicted.
posted by bonobothegreat at 5:24 PM on November 12, 2018 [2 favorites]

Thank you all, especially rada: very good and useful thoughts. And thanks, suede, for the contractor recommendations. I gave them a call, and we'll see about a quote when they get back to me. Honestly, walls are pretty thin, and it'd probably help a lot with future tenant issues.

I've gotten some further information from a elder care law firm that specializes in setting up resources for seniors. They recommended contacting the family members and health care agency, and then having the Massachusetts Elder Services do a wellness check if the agency cannot help.

When I contacted the tenants for the above information, they told me that the crying was due to constant, unremitting pain and that the person crying has been referred to a pain clinic, so asked to give it a few weeks. They also have a nurse and aide there daily. They're obviously worried about being asked to leave. We're going to do our best to make this work out for everybody, and I very much appreciate your help.
posted by Sockmanager at 9:51 AM on November 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

walls are pretty thin

This is unlikely, especially if a building code was involved in its construction. Rather than 'thin,' think of it as "uninsulated."
posted by rhizome at 10:20 AM on November 14, 2018

Follow up based on your update, Sockmanager:

A pain clinic is a reasonable long term solution but in the short term, it sounds like the tenants need, and likely qualify for, a Respite stay in a senior facility. Has this been looked into? As a landlord who is also an advocate for the elderly, I would push for that, personally.
posted by rada at 9:26 AM on November 19, 2018

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