By: Helsing Admin

Question: I live in a condominium and the neighbor above is very noisy. He clomps around, I can hear his television, and he slams doors and drawers. My association is telling me this is a neighbor to neighbor issue. I am really getting mad that they won’t make it stop.

I don’t know the particulars of your situation, so I can only talk in generalities. Noise complaints are in many cases very difficult to adjudicate – by the courts or by your Board. Not the wild weekend party with the stereo cranked up and the drunks on the balcony. Those are pretty simple; call the police. The difficult ones are exactly as you describe. The difficulty arises because some people are more noise sensitive than others, some people have unrealistic expectations of how much noise you should or should not hear between units, and of course some people are clods and do slam things around.

If the noise is being felt by several neighbors, then the occupant is probably in fact noisy and it is an issue the Board should probably deal with. If, however, you are the only one hearing the noise then the Board has to wrestle with the interpretation – are your expectations too high, are you noise sensitive – or is the homeowner upstairs really just noisy?

From the association’s point of view, if they are faced with you saying the neighbor is noisy and the neighbor is saying he is not, then it is pretty much a tie. In those cases, many associations will take this position: We can’t tell, and the law allows individual homeowners as well as the association to enforce the CC&R’s – therefore, they will use their best business judgment and determine there is nothing they can do about it that would stand up to a hearing or later legal action. It sounds like that may be what is happening here.

There are a couple of things you might consider. Have a couple of neighbors over and sincerely let them listen and tell you (honestly – don’t bribe them) if they think the neighbor is truly noisy or the noise you are hearing is similar to what they hear. You may not like to hear it, but if that is the case soft music in your unit and other methods may be the proper solution. You could just be noise sensitive or have unrealistic expectations.

If however, your neighbors also think the noise is excessive, you might consider tape recording it. That may be enough to move your Board into a position where they feel they should get involved. If not, it at least gives you something to use if you deal with it yourself.

One note of caution, impact noise (feet clopping, drawers and doors slamming) are typically regulated by the construction code and most newer buildings exceed that code. I can tell you from experience you will still hear the slammers, heavy walkers, and other noise. I wish I could give you better guidance, but as I said these issues can be hard – if not impossible – to adjudicate.

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