Issues with Neighbor over Sound

Updated on June 11, 2008
N.W. asks from South Jordan, UT
14 answers

I live in a townhouse--our first home that we were able to have lots of input on the design. I LOVE our house. We own rather than rent our town home. My only neighbor rents out just her basement to a Lady and her son(2 yrs old). (Tenant is bothered by the noise her landlord's cats make when they jump off things....when tenant is in the basement and the cats are on the 2nd story). I personally think she's overly sensitive to sounds.

I have a 3 yr old boy and an 18-month old girl. Both have a bounce in their step when they are happy. Soon after neighbor's tenant moved in, she started complaining about the unbearable noise. The builders came in and tested, then they hired specialists to come in and test again. The sound barrier is even better than it has to be. Tenant is hearing footfall noises...but nothing else. And by all accounts other than hers, these footfalls aren't even that loud. But her last residence was in an apartment building were mostly old people lived and they were all dead quiet and went to bed at 8pm.

We did additional testing of our own. She hears my 2 kids walking around the kitchen, but doesn't hear me or my husband walking around the kitchen. She can't hear my kids jumping on the stairs.

For 2 months we've been taking the kids upstairs or downstairs or outside from Noon to Two each day so Tenant's boy can have his nap. Tenant never tells me when they're not home at naptime. Tenant calls and complains about the noise even if it's after the time block she told me was naptime anytime she put him down later..and just expects me to adjust to her schedule on the fly.

My husband usually gets home from work at 7:30pm. Tenant's boy has quiet time at 7:30pm and is in bed by 8pm every night. My husband can not play with his kids anymore. He walks in the door; the kids say "Daddy, Daddy!!" and run down the hall to give him hugs and kisses. Instead of picking them up and swinging them around, he has to yell at them because baby-n is sleeping and they can't be running like that. My kids get this hurt look on their faces that breaks my heart. I know they don't understand.

The whole night is spent yelling at the kids. The basement is unfinished...we have only bedrooms upstairs. Our house is designed for us to be on the main floor. Tenant expects us to Not be on our main floor during the times that I'm used to serving Lunch and Dinner to my family.

Any time my children do make a noise - dropping a shoe on the floor, scooting in a chair to the kitchen counter, running down the hall to go potty (3 yr old just started potty training), my phone immediately rings and I get yelled at. Keep in mind, this isn't for waking her boy up...but because she heard it and can't believe how inconsiderate we're being and it might wake her boy up. Usually by the 4th call, her boy has been woken up....after napping for 1.5 hours...and she's upset that he didn't get the full 2 hours.

When we were testing sounds with her, we discovered that if she turns on the bathroom fan for some white noise, she can't even hear my boy running down the hall to go to the bathroom. We've also bought her a mid-high end sound soother.
I'm sorry to say that's all background. I'm currently in the hospital for 6 weeks. Hubby's Mom was taking care of the kids, but now my mom is taking care of the kids during the day. My mom is has MS. She is physically unable to take the kids up and down stairs each day. She is in good health and is fine to take care of the kids. (esp as my oldest is 8 yrs old and can help and grandpa is there too sometimes and sometimes my niece who's in highschool). Stairs and the Heat are particularly hard on my mom.

I told Tenant months ago (and hubby told her again when my mom came) that my mom can't take the kids upstairs/downstairs/outside each day during the hottest part of the day. and that she needs to do something on her side to make naptime work - use the soundsoother, let him take his nap upstairs (no one else is home all day long)...etc. Tenant STILL calls at the first hint of any noise.

It feels like Tenant is always in my house. My family used to be very loving and happy, now we are all grumpy and contentious.

I'll have preemie twins when I come home...and be recovering from a c-section. I won't be able to deal with her, too.

What would you do and how do I not go crazy?...I need my house back..and my family back. I can't live like this any more.

..and one more thing...less than 5 minutes after meeting my 3yr old boy for the first time, they told me they were pretty sure my son is hyperactive...and hinted that I really should take him to see someone...start him on pills to calm him down.

My boy is NOT hyperactive. He's 3. He's not any more active than the 2.5 yr old across the street...or the 2 year old 5 houses down. Boys play. that's what they do. My kids all like to run/chase each other. I encourage the exercise. My boy is happy. Her boy is clinging and mellow and....apparently has to sleep alot.

sorry for venting. I'm frustrated.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

Thank you very much for your responses. Your support made me feel alot better. It's hard to know I'm making someone uncomfortable, but you're right - I've been too accommodating and I need to put my family's needs first.

My husband talked to neighbor's landlord. He told her flat out we're not going to bother with trying to keep our kids quiet unless it's normal curfew hours (10pm-7am). He also talked to her about how to better utilize the sound soother.

I'm happy to report, we haven't received a single nasty call since then. Thanks again for all your responses. I couldn't be happier with the way things turned out :)

More Answers



answers from Salt Lake City on

You are being way too nice & she is taking advantage of you. If it were me I would be stomping around long ago. She should have taken noise into consideration when she started looking into anything that wasn't a single family home. You could already get the police involved for harassment. All she would need is one warning. I would talk to her landlord. But I would also tell her you are no longer living your lives the way she wants. If she has a problem with the noise that is what it is HER PROBLEM. Tell her she needs to solve it on her own. Block her number & tell her you will be getting a restraining order to keep her away if need be. I would be to the point of trying to get her to move out if I were you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Salt Lake City on

Okay, I so wasn't going to respond because it is so similar to what all the other woman have said, but I can't help it. This woman is out of control, and you have done more than you need to in this situation. I say take all the advice of the other women. First of all, really talk to her land lord, there really is no reason you should have to be dealing with all of this. Also tell her flat out, you have gone above and beyond what is necessary in this situation. You have been polite, courteous, put in extra time expense. She knew the risk of renting. The world cannot revolve around her child and she has got to learn that. And all the other woman are right, she is bordering on harassing, and I would let her know, via, letter, phone in person what not. Tell her any further issues can be taken up with her landlord, and make sure her land lord knows everything you have done. Truly her land lord shouldn't even be allowing all of this nonsense. Let your kids be kids and deal with it, you are going to send yourself into early labor with this stress. Her Karma will catch up with her. Hey print all these responses out and let her read how obnoxious she is. I wouldn't put up with that. I thought my nieghbors kids knocking were bad enough!



answers from Provo on

First of all, let me just say that you are so nice to try to appease this woman! I don't think I could have handled it as long as you have nor done as much as you have to help her!
I agree with the other mothers that you have to be able to live your life.
You have got to take your home and family back! I think that either you need to go to her home and sit down with her or call her or even write the letter that was suggested. You need to explain your feelings on the matter - just like you have done here - and tell her that you feel like you have done everything and MORE then should be expected to help her in her situation. She needs to be willing to do more on her end to help with the sound issues (I can't believe you even bought her a sound barrier machine - you are so nice!). You have to tell her that you have done everything you can and that you cannot continue to walk on egg shells for her. You need to be able to live the way you want to - with a happy healthy family without worrying about noise all the time - especially since you are in your dream home right now! I think that it is to the point now that if she is not willing to make changes on her end or if she can't just live with it, then she will have to move.
I also suggest talking with the landlord and letting them know all that you have done and that you just can't keep living that way and then stop taking the tenants calls - after telling her that you are not willing to rearrange your whole life for her anymore - and if she comes over you should just refer her to her landlord.
I know that it is hard since you have to live near this person and see them from time to time. I am not a person that likes conflict of any kind at all! It always makes me sick to my stomach, but you have got to be able to put your family first! Kids should never be yelled at when they are excited when daddy comes home! That is not fair!
You have done enough! It is her turn to take action - more than just annoying you with phone calls all the time.
Good luck to you with this problem and with the twins!



answers from Salt Lake City on

OH MY GOSH! I feel so bad for you. This lady is being completely unreasonable. It's life, she better get used to it. Your babies are going to cry during the night and your'e not going to be able to control them. Your poor little kids, they need to be able to play. You may have to talk to her and tell her that you've tried to do all that you can but you can't live like that anymore. I would tell her that you will try to be as courteous as you can but that your kids need to be able to play and have fun and you're not going to make them feel like they live in a Museum anymore. Good Luck! I hope everything works out for you.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Sounds to me like you have bent over backwards for this lady and nothing is going to satisfy her. I would tell the lady that you have tried to keep things in check for her but your kids need to have a normal life, and since nothing seems to please her that you have tried you are going back to the way things were. It sounds to me like she is a taker and is not willing to give back.

Have you spoken with the owner of the unit?



answers from Salt Lake City on

I would say or write a letter, something like:

I'm very sorry that you are and your family are so sensitive to sounds. A certain amount of noise is normal. Even if you lived in a house there would be no guarantee you would not be bothered by sounds, like dogs and lawnmowers and playing children.

As for me and my family, we are happy to try to be extra quiet during your son's nap time. Outside of that, we need to be ourselves and not feel like we have to tiptoe around our house. Trying to tiptoe around has not seemed to help with your noise sensitivity, and it has made us feel uptight and contributed to an unpleasant atmosphere in our home. Because my husband gets home late from work, it is essential that he can play with the children when he gets home. On this issue we will need to come up with a compromise (something like we can have 30 minutes of play time when dad gets home, even though we would like to have an hour, and you can move quiet time and bed time forward 1/2 hour). If this type of compromise can't make you happy, there may not be any solution which is acceptable to you and us.

We hope you try to find ways to make the noise around you more bearable (like a fan, or earplugs, or anxiety medicaton, that one you might not want to mention to her, but it really could help her).

The only other option outside of that is for her to seek a different living situation if she can't handle normal day to day noises.

If she continues to come and complain, I would be respectful but firm... good luck to you!



answers from Salt Lake City on

This sounds like Tenant's problem, not yours. Or maybe Landlord's. Being considerate of others' needs makes communities work. But it goes both ways.

This woman is being extremely demanding, and not considering the needs of your family. According to your story, she does not take the simple measures available to her to solve the problem for herself, but expects you and your family do all the changing.

Sorry: she is renting, you own. Let her know what REASONABLE compromises you are willing to make to help her family be more comfortable, but let her know that you expect her to be reasonable as well. You have already spent money to get a white noise maker to assist with HER problem. Tell her you will no longer be able to conform to her schedule (and put a block on your telephone so you won't receive her complaining calls).

You could remind her of the white noise options available to her. You can also refer her to the internet where she can find a wealth of soundproofing options that may improve her situation. She could take the matter up with her landlord and ask that these measures be taken to make the apartment better suited to her needs. If she and her landlord cannot find a solution, perhaps she can look for a rental in an environment that is a better match for her.

I know someone will probably make some suggestion that will solve the problem in a much more patient and loving way. I encourage you to be a bigger person and go with that solution, should it be posted... :P



answers from Salt Lake City on

Tell her you have 5 children and can not be expected to keep them all quiet all of the time. You own your home, she rents, if she doesn't like the noise level MOVE!!! As long as it's all daytime noise I don't think she really has a complaint shes just being unreasonable. Or just post her number here and we could all give her a call telling her our opinions. lol Best of luck to you and congrats on the babies:)



answers from Salt Lake City on

Have you talked to the neighbor (her landlord) about the tenant? Was the tenant promised an ultra quiet apartment? In all honesty, I think you have done more than enough to make this tenant happy. I've lived in apartments before and part of apartment living is learning to deal with the sounds of neighbors and, as long as it's not excessive (such as late-night parties or abusive fights where the cops should be called) then I think people should be allowed to live their lives the way they want to in their own place (which includes being in the living room when awake!).

Do you have a HOA? Are there any rules about people renting out rooms or apartments? You might check into that. It may be a violation and the tenant may need to move out.

It's obvious that this tenant is very sensitive to sound, but you have to be able to live your life! I say you need to talk to your neighbor/her landlord and explain what you've done to make things easier and it just isn't enough for the tenant and that you are going to now live your lives in your home with your children and the tenant will need to live with it or move out. Nothing you are doing is enough to get the police involved, so let the tenant call them if she feels the need, but you are not breaking any laws. What is she going to do when you have two babies at home crying? You own, she rents. If she's that unhappy with neighbors, then she needs to find a place that fits her needs better.

As for dealing with the neighbor, I would have her landlord explain to the tenant that you can no longer expect your family to be ultra quiet just to appease her and NOT call you anymore and if she continues, you might want to look into harrassment charges. Turn your ringer off is you know she'll be calling or get caller ID so you know not to answer.

The way I see it, there isn't anymore you can do. So go on and enjoy your home with your children and husband. Good luck with the delivery of the twins!



answers from Salt Lake City on

Oh my! I read this and couldn't but help feeling very frustrated for you. I've lived in apartments and sound is always an issue. As for advice, I would say quit giving into this ladies every wish. You have a family. Sometimes families are noisy. Oh well! If this woman chooses to live in a place where neighbors are on the other side of a wall she just needs to deal with it. And so does her little boy. We shared a home with a couple with children. Our kids just had to learn to sleep through some noise. Or we'd put on some music to drown out noises. As far as I'm concerned you are the one who should be complaining to the owner of the home about her tenant. My former landlady let everyone know that they shouldn't even bother complaining about any noise before 9pm. Thats just how apartment living is. Next time that lady calls to complain about footsteps patiently tell her that she's just going to have to deal with it and to quit calling about every little noise. If she continues to harass you, unplug the phone, or tell her you will take it up with her landlord. Don't let this silly woman with her need for extreme quiet ruin the fun you and your family should be having. A. S.



answers from Salt Lake City on

You have been WAAAAYYYYY too nice and you have WAY too much on your plate to be dealing with this lady and her kid. You own your home, and you pay the bills so your family can live comfortably. Tell her landlord that she is out of control and THEY need to deal with this person. If she doesn't like it tell her to find a new place to live. I have lived in apartments for YEARS. I lived in one WITH A BABY. Babies will sleep through anything, Including a party at midnight.



answers from Provo on

Write her a nice letter (so she can't interrupt) and make suggestions like putting a box fan in the kid's room, that's what I still do! Tell her as much as you'd like to be helpful to others, your family comes first and give her the example of your husband when he comes home. Tell her it is up to her to make things as good as possible for her children, as it is yours for your own children. Then, call the phone company and ask how to have her phone number blocked so you will not receive her phone calls. If after this she starts coming over and ringing the door bell repeatedly or something, ask for a policeman to come out and report the situation to him as it could be a form of 'pestering' (for lack of better word) that they could talk to her about. This is just what came to mind. I wish you the best of luck.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Sounds like the tenant needs to go. Check to see if they are allowed to have tenants. The townhouse is probably not zoned for it.



answers from Salt Lake City on

N., stop dealing with her. The noise ordinance doesn't deal with "walking/running" noises of children in their own home, especially during daytime hours. It is not your responsibility to be quiet during certain hours of the is considerate to some extent, but not so that it disrupts your household. You OWN the home, she does not. If it truly is too loud for her, she can deal with it or move. But as long as you don't have a dog that barks at all hours, play the stereo so that other neighbors complain, or make LOUD noises after 10pm and before 6am, you're fine. Don't sweat it. She has no right to come into your home, in a manner of speaking, and tell you what you can and cannot do during certain hours. Explain to her that you have tried to accommodate her wishes, but this has gotten to be ridiculous. especially now that you have several very young children. She needs to take it up with her landlord what she will do next, because it isn't your problem.

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