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Old 03.04.2021, 06:44
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Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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.

Thanks
George
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Old 03.04.2021, 14:18
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

Welcome to the forum.

This is a sad, but all too well know situation in Switzerland. I would personally recommend not to live in the same building, as your landlord, unless you share daily habits and go to bed times - there are too many chances to get into disagreement with a person, which you depend on in some important aspects of your life (like most people may love their parents, but would still move out as soon as possible and have better relations afterwards, but may have fights, if stay).

There are no per se dB limits. There are several regulations, which many would consider very loose and open for interpretation, but that is how it is here in CH.

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The Civil Code (CC, Art. 684) states that everyone is obliged to refrain from any excessive impact on neighbors, especially any harmful and unjustified impact caused by smoke or soot, annoying fumes, noise or vibration. Consequently, everyone is required to take the necessary measures to avoid noise.
According to the Swiss Code of Obligations (OR, Art. 257f), tenants must show consideration for building occupants and neighbors and must not disturb the peace in the building.
The Environmental Protection Act (USG) and the Noise Protection Ordinance (LSV) provide at best general guidelines for dealing with everyday noise. There are no limit values.
More concrete information can be found in the police ordinances of the cities and municipalities. They specify the times of midday rest and night rest and regulate how to deal with frequent noise sources. However, they usually do not determine with sufficient precision what is reasonable and what is excessive.

What constitutes justifiable and tolerable noise immissions can seldom be assessed entirely without a sideways glance at existing exposure limits (LSV, annexes). However, due to the diverse characteristics of noise sources in this area, no limit values can be developed that apply to all cases. Since there are neither standardized procedures nor limit values, measurements usually do not lead to the goal either.
Enforcement authorities or judges must therefore judge on a case-by-case basis, based on their experience, whether someone in the population is significantly disturbed in their well-being. In doing so, they have quite a bit of discretion.

You may find more information using search function of this forum, at Mietverband website or at other resources.


Hope, that helps.
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Old 03.04.2021, 14:28
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

Wearing high heels inside the house is a big no no in most Swiss homes. Removing shoes is the norm, replace them with slippers if you have the baby elephant style of walking.

If she is the owner of the flat and you are not a good fit, I recommend looking for a new place. I've noticed that everyone has a very different sensitivity to sound. Things that you may not even notice are infuriating to others. For example, my downstairs neighbour is incapable of closing a door (room or cupboard) without slamming it. It makes me want to go downstairs and smash the doors while screaming in the dude's face. How can you be so devoid of fine motor coordination that you cannot operate a door quietly (known as a "Grobmotoriker" in German)? How can you not realise that it is loud and will bother others?

You say Covid-19 conditions should make us more tolerant - the opposite is true. Many of us are working from home, so noise is more of an annoyance. Children running amok is one thing, I can sympathise with that up to a certain point, but not fully grown adults who have the motor skills of a drunk jellyfish and don't respect quiet times.

So if you genuinely feel you are not being loud and the lady says you are, you have a mismatch in noise awareness and sensitivity. You will only make each other miserable. Move.
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Old 03.04.2021, 14:35
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

Put down a few rugs, get some curtains, books and soft furnishing will help absorb the sounds you're making.
Ask guests to remove shoes (especially if they're wearing high heels which also risk marking the parquet)!

As evop has pointed out; living in the same building as your landlord is a bit like living with your parents.... and in this case the 'parent' can make life very difficult for you if they decide you're not living up to their exacting standards, even if you think they're being unreasonable.
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Old 03.04.2021, 16:08
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

Hi


living in flats noise can travel oddly sometimes.


There is a 10pm guidance for Switzerland.


if friends around, maybe watch if moving furniture (Chairs) to avoid unnecessary noise. I have my own thing about not talking on communal stairs, as know noise can travel into the flat might pass on the way.


It depends where other bedrooms are for your neighbours, if on phone late, try to keep away from the room they are sleeping, might help.


Hope all goes well with your neighbour. We had initial problems in the past, most of the times, when moving out, they had tears of sadness to see us go.
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Old 03.04.2021, 16:15
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

If she is the owner then she has the responsibility to ensure that proper sound insulation is in place. Next time she complains tell her that it her problem and suggest the solution is in her hands.
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Old 03.04.2021, 17:27
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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If she is the owner then she has the responsibility to ensure that proper sound insulation is in place. Next time she complains tell her that it her problem and suggest the solution is in her hands.
There are times when an owner cannot do anything. I know this personally and feel for both parties. Sometimes there are wires and pipes in a house that conduct noise which cannot be rectified without tearing down the whole place.

OP: You've received some good advice:

1) Either attempt to make your flat as noise insulated as possible or
2) move because it ain't gonna get better
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Old 03.04.2021, 17:33
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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There are times when an owner cannot do anything. I know this personally and feel for both parties. Sometimes there are wires and pipes in a house that conduct noise which cannot be rectified without tearing down the whole place.

OP: You've received some good advice:

1) Either attempt to make your flat as noise insulated as possible or
2) move because it ain't gonna get better
So she canít do anything? Well she could stop moaning. Itís not for her tenants to compensate.
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Old 03.04.2021, 17:48
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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So she canít do anything? Well she could stop moaning. Itís not for her tenants to compensate.
Actually, the owner can expect some compliance from the tenant. The noise situation is unfortunate but it happens in many buildings.
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Old 03.04.2021, 17:51
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

Buy her some earplugs.
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Old 03.04.2021, 17:57
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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Buy her some earplugs.
Pissing off the owner isn't going to help anyone.
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Old 03.04.2021, 18:05
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

is this 10 pm on fridays and saturday or during the week?

Tbh make sure you installed felt pads on all chairs, as chairs moving upstairs sound like heavy furniture.

Also people should take off their shoes, especially if heeled.
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Old 03.04.2021, 18:28
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

We must acknowledge that the real problem is poor sound insulation in many (most?) buildings. It's ok for your neighbor to want to go to sleep at 10pm and for you to hae a phone call after 10pm.

My golden rules when looking for a new apartment.
0) Set your expectations realistic. Don't fall into a mistake of thinking "This is Switzerland. Everything is so in-order and everything is done so-properly. The Swiss must have figured out how-to build comfortable, sound-proofed and energy efficient buildings ages ago. So I can just pick any of them." This is so far from truth that it will make you cry. In fact, most of the buildings are built like shit at least in terms of sound insulation. Hence the absurd Swiss rules "no toilet flush after 10pm" etc.
1) Top floor apartment is always preferable. Even in a 5 story building without an elevator. Top floor apartment means noone will ever cause you a nervous breakdown with their elephant style walking, constant urge to drop heavy things, playing Wii-sports for hours, moving chairs etc.
2) Always inspect Grundrissplan of your potential new apartment and check how many walls are crossing neighbours apartments and which rooms. For example your bedroom crossing neighbours kid room or living room is a no-go. You don't want to listen to your neighbours Netflix sessions until 2am or kids crying all night long when their teeth start to come out. For this reason apartments located on the sides or corners of the building are preferable.
3) In majority of cases newly-built buildings are preferable to old buildings. Many modern buildings have a high number of constructions built from concrete. Concrete has high mass and high mass blocks sound travel.

In reality you can rarely combine 1, 2, 3 however with proper care you can do at least 2, 3.
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Old 03.04.2021, 19:08
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

Everyone here is Kind to offer suggestions, but there is really only one solution ... move.

Sheís the landlord and is hyper sensitive, unless you want to drastically change your life and behavior, it wonít get any better and will only get worse. But please donít wear shoes in your flat ... not only is it noisy, but it is rather unhygienic. That is an easy fix there ...
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Old 03.04.2021, 22:36
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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But please don’t wear shoes in your flat ... not only is it noisy, but it is rather unhygienic.
Once I had a long discussion/research over email between me, my wife and a professor of Yale school of public health, whether it is better to walk barefoot or in some shoes inside your house. It was concluded, that the most anti-sanitary solution would be barefoot, since in leaves a lot of our bodily ex[se]cretions, fungi and bacteria all over the place with very good conditions to grow, unless you sterilize floors every 4 hours. The most unhygienic would be walking in street shoes, of course, although it has less health hazards, unless you eat from the floor or let pets on a couch/bed/table. The best overall is walking in any dedicated home shoes. And it is also quieter, so a win for everyone
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Old 03.04.2021, 22:47
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

Tell your asshole neighbor to call the police.

Tom
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Old 04.04.2021, 00:01
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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Everyone here is Kind to offer suggestions, but there is really only one solution ... move.

She’s the landlord and is hyper sensitive, unless you want to drastically change your life and behavior, it won’t get any better and will only get worse. But please don’t wear shoes in your flat ... not only is it noisy, but it is rather unhygienic. That is an easy fix there ...
The suggestion to move out is also not that easy to accomplish.
He would have to
1) find a new apartment equally as good - will be quite difficult and time consuming
2) find a Nachmieter or wait for the next official moving date (according to his contract)
3) the current landlord might give not the greatest recommendations to the agencies that OP applies for a new apartment (do agencies in reality ever make these calls?)
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Old 04.04.2021, 00:22
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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. But please don’t wear shoes in your flat ... not only is it noisy, but it is rather unhygienic.
Wha? Unless you're in the habit of eating off the floor, I can't for they life of me think what could possibly be unhygienic about it.

From the noise perceptive, yes, difficult. Live and let live is my motto, but I've not infrequently had to ask guests here to quieten down after ten, with walls that seem to have been designed to transmit sound rather then deadening it. Different situation, of course, but yeah, if you want to stay where you are you're just going to have to take steps (or not) to be quiet.

Last edited by Ace1; 04.04.2021 at 10:30. Reason: fix quote
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Old 04.04.2021, 20:32
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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.

Thanks
George
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

Shoes
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.

Conversations
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 "Zimmerlautstšrke".) 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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Old 04.04.2021, 21:05
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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please donít wear shoes in your flat ... not only is it noisy, but it is rather unhygienic. That is an easy fix there ...
WTF?

Tom
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