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Old 04.04.2021, 20:32
doropfiz doropfiz is offline
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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Dear all,

I am facing a strange situation for me. The owner of my flat living just below me and she is super sensitive to sound.

Speak once to the phone a little bit louder, next day complaints, staying more than 10pm with friends (not having party or music) just hanging around, next day complaints, having a girl walking with high hills complaints...

I am so sorry but this is ridiculous, especially in the Covid period should be a little bit of understanding... we need to socialize not to sleep from 10 pm while watching alone Netflix.

It Is something i can do to defend myself. I gave her already my phone number to send me an SMS if she feels it is too loud and I am trying to be polite as the flat is super nice and i don't want to go away but i have the feeling is getting worst.

Is there something like an official DB limit? I was thinking to find and use a decibel meter as we need to define loud noise in this country.

This forum has many, many, many threads with opening posts about noise, both by those who are annoyed by the noise their neighbours make, and those who find their neighbours to be oversensitive. It seems to be that the responses fall into these categories (said more or less nicely):
  1. Don't bother, the others are unreasonable, they will not become less noisy or less senstive (depending which side started the thread), there is no hope, things will only get worse from here on, so start looking for a new place immediately and move asap.

  2. They are just fine, and your complaints (about their noise, or about their complaining about your noise) are unreasonable. Or, put more nicely, perhaps you really could do something to modify just enough of your behaviour.

  3. Try to work towards peace, try to get a dialogue going about which noise, specifically, and when, specifically is actually bothersome, and then try to reduce those specific things, and tell the neighbours which parts you/they have improved. This can de-escalade the whole situation.

Some say this happens only in Switzerland while others say this happens in other countries, too. In any case it can feel worse if you previously lived in a free-standing house and now live in an apartment.

About moving: as others have said, that can be time-consuming and costly.
About evaluating their complaints and possibly modifying something: check all the possibilities for modifying some aspects of your behaviour, to address specific complaints. That doesn't mean becoming servile and living on edge yourself, but finding out what you could soften, so as not to harvest/make complaints.

If there are other people living in the building, it can be a good idea to ask them whether any noise you/the neighbours produce is bothering them, too. That will help to relativise the complaints you've received/want to make.

As others have said

High-heeled or clickety-clack shoes indoors are an absolute no-go, as are clogs, etc., and this at all times, so take your own shoes off when you arrive home, and keep a bag of house-slippers for your guests.

In addition, consider adding mats or carpets to the places with the most traffic.

Only very quiet conversations in the stair-well, or calling out of a window to downstairs. This at all times.

Rest times
Before 7h00 and after 22h00, conversations, phonecalls, music and TV must all be inaudible outside of the room in which they are taking place. (In German, this is called "Zimmerlautstärke".) You can test this by talking, then asking a friend to leave the room and listen to whether she can still hear you in the room next-door, or by leaving your TV on and going into the next room yourself to see if you can hear it. If yes, it is too loud for the rest times.

In some rental contracts (you can consult yours), and even if not in the contract in some municipalities (you can ask at the municipal office) there are additional rules or by-laws extending the quiet/rest time over lunch, for example from 12h00 to 14h00.

Even when these are set down in black and white, in some buildings a different practice becomes the norm. I lived in a building where, in general, everyone settled down quietly by 21h00, and that took quite a bit of adjustment.

Non-rest times
During non-rest times, it is okay for your neighbours to hear you, and you them, some of the time. Even so, you can expect/be expected to exercise restraint (of the kind that Kittster's neighbour does not, with cupboard doors) in order not to bother them too much.

Specific complaints
If someone complains very specifically, and you know it really was that noise at that time, then it is the easiest to fix, or at least modify. If the neighbour can be persuaded to let you know exactly at the time it happens (and not just moan about last Wednesday) then you can try, right there and then, to modify something, and ask her to go back into her flat and see whether your modification has helped, and you can phone her right then. It is easy to see the way this could be applied to noisy shoes, by taking them off, and the neighbour would agree that that fixes the issue.

Similarly, if you need to complain about their noise, try to do it when it is happening, so that can know right then, what to fix.

Sometimes, it can be worth swapping the use of your rooms to be the opposite of theirs, so that you watch your late-night movie in a room that is not above their bed, etc.

Sometimes just a few decor changes, and textiles, can help to muffle the sounds.

Specific exceptions
If you know that you are going to do something specific that is noisy, you could inform your neighbours. Someone came by to tell us that he was going to be installing a new bookshelf on Saturday, and hoped he wouldn't have to go on drilling all day. Thank you, neighbour! We went out.

Similarly, if you're going to have a party, inform your neighbours and invite them over to join in. Ask for their generosity in accepting that it might go on a bit beyond 10 p.m., but add that you can promise to have everyone gone, or at least back indoors off the balcony and quiet, by midnight, and that anyway you don't intend to have such parties more than once a month or once every few months.

I have observed that people who are annoyed by another's behaviour tend to become increasingly so if they get the feeling that the others are not trying, in any way, to improve the situation. As soon as the atmosphere turns towards at least some effort towards a compromise, that alone can help them to feel better. Not always, but sometimes this lessens the tension quickly.
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