Author Topic: How to live next to a crabby neighbor  (Read 10906 times)

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Kitri

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How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« on: December 06, 2012, 03:16:22 PM »
I am sad/disgusted/at a loss about how to make the best of this situation.  My husband and I just completed a difficult and expensive move from an apartment living above a drug addict to a twin house in a quiet neighborhood.  We were so happy to be in this new situation, with an older couple, Bill and Suzy, as the neighbors living in the other twin.  Well, the walls are very thin, and we can hear everything next door.  Unfortunately I have health problems and insomnia, and for the past two weeks these neighbors are waking me up too early, between 6 to 6:30 most days, with what sounds like they are pushing things around on the opposite side of my bedroom wall.  My husband is self-employed and I work for him.  I purposely put the t.v. and computer in a room far from their bedroom so as not to disturb them with our own noise.  We are up late most nights, and are usually up and out between 8 and 9 am.  But when I can't get enough sleep I can't function, and it isn't pretty when I fall asleep around 1 am.  One morning I turned the light on and it was 5:45!!  Now they are hooking up fios so their grandsons can watch tv and play video games next to my bedroom wall.  Since this began I pondered what to do about it.  Neither my husband nor I wanted to say anything about this, because Suzy yells at Bob everyday and seems to anger problem.  But I decided that I had to just make them aware of the issue.  Trying to ignore the noise isn't really possible anymore.  Bob did tell me to let them know if we can hear their big t.v.  I tried to convince my husband that perhaps we should try to go to sleep and get up earlier, but when he comes home at 8 or 8:30 at night, he doesn't want to go to bed at 10.

I bought a very good pie and wrote a letter in a beautiful card.  I was extremely careful with my choice of words.  I told them how grateful we are to be living in this neighborhood and to have them as neighbors.  I let them know the issue, and I didn't even ask them to do anything differently.  I let them know when we are usually up and out for work, and I thanked them. I left the note with the pie on their front step, and when I returned home hours later, the pie was sitting on my doormat without any note.  It was an inscrutable and disturbing thing that caused me to fret for days.

Two days later Suzy knocked on my door and rang my doorbell yesterday.  She was sort of aggressive, waving my note around and smacking it with her finger, saying, "I want to talk to you about this note..." Though I thanked her repeatedly for taking time to talk to me, afterwards it left a bad taste.  Basically she came over to defend herself, not to do anything else.  She told me I was the first neighbor she had that had ever complained ( I wouldn't term the wording in my note as a "complaint").   She told me again and again that she and her husband are too old and infirm to move furniture, that she wishes that she could do such a thing, and that either I was essentially imagining the noises, or the deer outside made them.  I've never heard a deer make such noises.  We were both nervous, and she was breathing loudly, because she was upset as she spoke.  She didn't mention the expensive pie I gave her that she tossed back onto my doormat, and when she was finished telling me what she wanted me to hear, she turned around and went back into her house, no "bye" or "see you later" or "have a nice day".  At first I was relieved that we had spoken, and was glad that I handled it "gracefully".  Now that I think of it, it is still disappointing; not neighborly at all.  I've been feeling more and more bitter, and start to dread coming home.  This morning I heard the noises again at 6:30. 

My initial impression of her is solidifying - she is aggressive, impetuous, loud, and generally an unhappy person, and we are separated by 1 inch of drywall and 2 or 3 inches of air without soundproofing.  She and her henpecked husband aren't going anywhere - she intends "to die" while living at this address, I was told.  The last tenant lived here 2 years.

I would greatly appreciate anyone's take on this situation, and any advice on how to make the best of this, since we aren't moving again for a long time.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2012, 03:26:07 PM »
Can you move to a bedroom that doesn't share a wall with the neighbours?  And then put your 'noisy' stuff in your current bedroom?  They obviously aren't concerned about your comfort so as long as you aren't unreasonable about using your TV and computer in that room, say not past midnight and not before 8:00 am, they can't really say much.

And if they do, smile sweetly and say that you did tell them that sound travelled through the wall and since they wouldn't help you do anything to mitigate the noise, you rearranged your living space so it wouldn't bother you any more.  They are welcome to do the same.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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MrTango

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2012, 03:26:19 PM »
It sounds like you're renting.  Is that correct?

If so, I would bring your issues to the landlord and ask them to please install soundproofing between the two units.  Let the landlord know that your neighbor has demonstrated an unwillingness to work out the issue with you.

If you own your half of the unit, I'd just go ahead and install the soundproofing myself (or, rather, hire a contractor to do it).

Outdoor Girl

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2012, 03:28:25 PM »
I'd just go ahead and install the soundproofing myself (or, rather, hire a contractor to do it).

This is better than my idea, if you can afford to do it.  But after mentioning that the move was expensive, I'd assumed that money was tight.
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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MindsEye

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2012, 03:29:38 PM »
A couple of questions:
Do you and your DH rent or own your half of the twin?
Do you know if your neighbors rent or own?

If you (either just you or both of you) rent... my advice would be to go to the landlord.

The landlord can perhaps install soundproofing.  The landlord can also perhaps approach your neighbors about their noise.

Can you move your bedroom away from the shared wall?  Maybe use a white-noise machine?  Frankly I would swap your bedroom with the room your put the computer/TV in!

NyaChan

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2012, 03:31:42 PM »
If you can't count on them to adjust your behavior, you can change your own to suit your own purposes.  Switch your sleeping room and put the noise things where you previously slept so that all the noise in either house is all in the same spot.  If they don't care for your comfort, you needn't be so considerate of theirs.  The pie would have been a nice gesture for a new neighbor, but I think you should have separated that from your complaint about the noise.  I also think that it is possible that the noise you were hearing in the morning is their drawers, not things being moved, hence her extra anger.  If you are renting, MrTango's advice could help as well.

Kitri

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2012, 03:35:22 PM »
I do rent, and the landlord told me on the first day that they don't get involved in disputes between their tenants.  Suzy rents from the same landlord.  That would have made things easier I would have thought.  He is also slow to do things he doesn't think are "necessary".  He hasn't had complaints before.  I am considering moving to another room to sleep, but I would have to buy a smaller bed in order for it to fit.  This twin is two stories, and my office furniture is heavy, another reason I have it downstairs, and away from the upstairs bedrooms.  I have to look at the lease.

BeagleMommy

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2012, 04:12:38 PM »
Kitri, this is beyond a dispute between neighbors.  Your landlord needs to get involved.  Tell him about the noise problem and ask about soundproofing.  Just because he didn't get complaints before doesn't mean it isn't happening.

If he chooses not to do anything you can try landlord/tenant court.  Most cities have them.

Lynn2000

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2012, 04:21:21 PM »
OP, this is a tough situation, and I sympathize with you. I live in an apartment with very thin walls and high tenant turnover. The worst year was a verbally/physically abusive couple who screamed at each other and threw things in the middle of the night. Second-worst was a very... amorous couple who literally made noise for hours, starting at exactly the time I went to bed just a few inches away. The furniture is all built in so the best I could do was go sleep on the loveseat in the other room (not very comfortable). It was terribly upsetting and frustrating (obviously the angry couple for slightly different, scary reasons). Also, my landlord was sympathetic, but told me that she wouldn't get involved--basically I was to call the police noise complaint line! Which seemed a little much in the case of the amorous neighbors.

What saved me was a white noise machine. I can recommend the model if you're interested. It wasn't a magic mute button but it muffled things enough that I could sleep.

I also investigated soundproofing materials, but for me it was impractical. However, if you could get some sheets of it at a hardware store and put them up against the shared wall, that might help a lot. Maybe drape a blanket over the side you can see so it will look nicer, kind of like a quilt hanging on the wall.

I definitely agree with moving your sleeping place to a quieter room. It might be extra work that you shouldn't have to do, but it sounds like these neighbors are not going to change, so the sooner you make your own environment quieter, the better. Maybe try temporarily sleeping in another room for a week or so to see if it's worth it to make a larger change.

I agree with you that the pie thing is weird, and her defensive, aggressive behavior would creep me out a little, too. But, I think you can say that since you tried to resolve it politely with them, and it didn't work, it's time to move on to the next idea, even if that idea is more work for you.  :-\
~Lynn2000

rose red

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #9 on: December 06, 2012, 04:30:58 PM »
Does anyone else think former tenants already tried the pie idea, and that's why the neighbor is already aggressive and defensive?  She knows the drill already and not likely to change.  The last tenant was only there two years which is a pretty short time.  The landlord informing the OP that he won't get involved from the very first day is also very telling.

sweetonsno

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2012, 04:53:44 PM »
Was your first point of contact the pie and card? If so, I think it was a mistake to include the mention of the noise problem then, even if you were careful about your wording. I think it's best to establish a relationship of some sort before you bring up a problem. That said, what's done is done. I like the idea of moving your bedroom if it's possible to do so.

I'd wait awhile, then make some sort of no-strings peace offering while apologizing for getting off on the wrong foot. (You don't need to apologize for telling them that they were noisy.) Invite them for coffee or something. When people like you, they're more likely to want to do nice things for you, like be quiet in the morning.

If that fails, or you'd rather not deal with them at all, re-visit your lease. If both you and the landlord signed the lease and you are entitled to "quiet enjoyment," he's not allowed to refuse to get involved with tenant disputes. He signed a contract.

wolfie

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2012, 05:34:21 PM »
It seems like you are seeing your  neighbor in the worst light possible. You are seeing your neighbor as telling you that she isn't willing to do anything about the noise. It sounds to me like she is telling you that she isn't making any noise that could be stopped. I had a friend in college that would complain that the person above her liked to bounce a rubber ball on the floor at night. One day she said it to someone and discovered it was actually the person above her. Turned out he wasn't bouncing a ball - the pipes were making the noise. If the noise you are hearing is their dresser drawers being opened then there really isn't anything they can do to stop it.

As for them returning the pie - I wouldn't have returned it but I would have thrown it away. It is being left on the door with a complaint letter - I wouldn't trust it either. Complaints like this are better done in person - then you could have had a conversation about what you are hearing and could have determined what you are hearing and how best to fix it. But basically the first move you made is an anonymous complaint - not exactly something that is going to make you look good.

You started off on the wrong foot - I would get soundproofing, move the bedroom or go to bed earlier. Just because your husband doesn't want to go to bed at 10:00pm doesn't mean that you can't.

Hmmmmm

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 05:50:26 PM »
I think you were honestly trying to address the issue appropriately.  But a couple of things struck me.  I would fully expect to hear my neighbors getting up and moving around at 6am, even 5:45 which is the time that I get up each day.  I don't think their schedule is extreme here at all.  It seems you are suprised by such early risers.  Since crabby lady reference "moving furniture" it also seems like you stated in your note that the noises sound like them moving furniture.  Though you were most likely very careful in your wording, it might have come off as accusatory or even snarky.

I'd give her a day or 2 to cool off then go over and say that you are still feeling bad that your encounter seemed to upset her.  That you'd like to approach the landlord about installing sound proofing and you believe he'd be more receptive if both families approached him.

I'd also immediately install some type of white noise machine.

Though it would have been great if her reaction was "Oh, dear.  I am so sorry, we had no idea you could hear us.  We'll try to be quieter"  that's not what you got and I know I'd do a little appeasing of an old grouch if I was going to be living near them for them for a while.   

figee

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2012, 06:03:42 PM »
I have sympathy about noisy neighbors but like the above poster, what struck me was that you're complaining about them being up at around 6 am.  My DH leaves for work at 6 am, so is up at 5.30.  I get up at 6 am to walk the dogs.  Most of my neighbors are up at around 6 to get to work, get kids to school, feed babies, older children or dogs, watering their lawns, whatever.  I think the restriction on noise before 7 or 8 is mainly directed at things like loud music, lawn mowers etc, but if people are making noise in their own house because that's the time they get up, then there's not very much they can do about it.

Bijou

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Re: How to live next to a crabby neighbor
« Reply #14 on: December 06, 2012, 06:38:08 PM »
About the pie...I wouldn't touch a pie I found on my door step and would be confused by that and the card. 
The pie and the complaint in the card (whether or not you think it was a complaint, it was) just don't fit together and the combination may have come across as condescending or patronizing to them.  It would have been far better to have contacted them directly to discuss noise issues. 

I might contact her and let her know that you'd like to start over in trying to be good neighbors.  I also would contact the landlord if you cannot resolve it between you.  Or, as others say, move your bedroom.
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