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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, 14:35
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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, 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 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 "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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Old 05.04.2021, 21:15
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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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):.....
You did nice list, and kudos for it. But I have to tell you that you exaggerating a lot. Giving completely wrong message IMHO. Look, there is SIA norm 181, in German called "Schallschutz im Hochbau" or "Sound insulation in building construction" It is in use since 1976 (I think), of course with many changes later. Every renovated building and every new one has to be build according to it.
- talking in staircase is ok
- walking in shoes inside apartment is ok
- watching TV is ok
- talking with people inside your apartment is ok
All of this are noises that are part of normal use and any apartment has to be insulated enough that they are not disturbing. This is a norm. If building is built against the norm, the culprit will be found and he will pay for reconstruction. It is either architect or building company. Our office was once in such process, the windows had 3dB too low noise insulation. Btw, it as not our fault as investor ordered windows past us.
Contact noises is prevented between different parts of building, especially in staircase and in all ceilings.
for example, the noise isolation of walls inside apartment is 52dB (in some cases there are also higher and lower values), where whisper is around 30dB, conversation 60dB, vacuum cleaner 75dB. Yes, there are noises that travel differently, we are more sensitive to certain frequencies, but all normal use scenarios are covered. Same is with toilets or showers where it is taken special care that the noise doesn't travel between floors.
What you wrote is maybe valid for extremely old, extremely cheap buildings and they are slowly, but surely disappearing.
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Old 06.04.2021, 10:54
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

When I first moved to CH, I was given a guidance pamphlet... not sure if it was a set of laws or just friendly guidance... but it included the 10pm thing.

I found it quite funny, as it included things like "don't flush the toilet or run a bath after 10pm, as the water draining can be noisy to neighbors below".

Similarly, hanging clothes to dry on the balcony on a Sunday was listed as a no-no.

You'll find that the usually onus is on you not to make noise. The fact that your landlord lives below you complicates matters a little bit, but not so much... you'll find that a normal tenant will quite quickly call the police on you for making noise after 10pm... if nothing else, because it documents it so when they formally complain to the landlord they have the report to back it up.

Noise insulation regulations aren't retrospective, so if the building is fairly old, you'll find walls are paper thin and conduct noise ...

Easiest solution: make less noise
Long term solution: move
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Old 06.04.2021, 11:40
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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...so if the building is fairly old, you'll find walls are paper thin and conduct noise ...
Walls are usually not paper thin, neither in old buildings nor in new ones. We are living in Switzerland not in Japan. And they conduct only contact noise, i.e. if you hammer on the wall. Just move your bed 1 cm away from the wall.

here are the sound isolation of typical walls:
110 mm unplastered wall 42dB
110 mm wall plastered both sides 45dB
220 mm wall plastered both sides 50dB
Cavity wall construction 50dB
330 mm Solid wall 53dB

60dB is talking, 20 dB is breathing, for a quite room it is usually predicted 30 dB.

In older buildings the problem of noise is mostly:
- through doors and windows,
- later installations, especially those running vertically
- nonexistent or with time ruined (contact) sound isolation between floors
Early concrete buildings, especially one built with light concrete elements are problematic. Even more when cutting them to install pipes, hence this famous rule about not using shower/toilet.
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Old 08.04.2021, 11:54
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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Similarly, hanging clothes to dry on the balcony on a Sunday was listed as a no-no.
Only on Sunday?

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You'll find that the usually onus is on you not to make noise. The fact that your landlord lives below you complicates matters a little bit, but not so much... you'll find that a normal tenant will quite quickly call the police on you for making noise after 10pm... if nothing else, because it documents it so when they formally complain to the landlord they have the report to back it up.
That's a passive-aggressive behaviour I'll never fully get, but then maybe I'm not fully integrated. Or I didn't live in the "right" places as I never experienced it myself here. I prefer to let the other person know they're disturbing (and them to do the same when it's the case) . So far we had only one complaint coming from the neighbours (it was after 10 p.m. indeed) and we also had only one complaint which was immediately taken care of. I wouldn't have normally complained but I had an exam the next day and I really needed my 8 hours night sleep. I've rewarded the guys downstairs with a bottle of wine and a thank you card. It wasn't necessary, but I thought it's good to let them know I appreciated their consideration.
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Old 06.04.2021, 11:17
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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You did nice list, and kudos for it. But I have to tell you that you exaggerating a lot. Giving completely wrong message IMHO. Look, there is SIA norm 181, in German called "Schallschutz im Hochbau" or "Sound insulation in building construction" It is in use since 1976 (I think), of course with many changes later. Every renovated building and every new one has to be build according to it.
Yes exactly, in every building I have lived in and visited, those rules do not apply and thank goodness for that.
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Old 06.04.2021, 11:34
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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What you wrote is maybe valid for extremely old, extremely cheap buildings and they are slowly, but surely disappearing.
Unfortunately, you're wrong about focusing on extremely old, cheap buildings. I know of newer buildings that also have poor noise insulation due to poor construction management which caused errors that are almost impossible to eradicate. Buildings built in the last ten years most probably have much better noise insulation but I know of many buildings from the 90s where noise is an issue.

Architects just didn't consider noise as an issue until recently. Unfortunately.
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Old 06.04.2021, 11:52
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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Unfortunately, you're wrong about focusing on extremely old, cheap buildings. I know of newer buildings that also have poor noise insulation due to poor construction management which caused errors that are almost impossible to eradicate. Buildings built in the last ten years most probably have much better noise insulation but I know of many buildings from the 90s where noise is an issue.
Architects just didn't consider noise as an issue until recently. Unfortunately.
Sorry, anecdotal evidence is not worth much. I work in the field and I know very well that if something is made wrong the investor will go fully on everyone involved. It is really easy thing for them. As I mentioned, I was once in the process, they just hire a company who brings measuring device and let it inside a room for few days. Nothing complicated, and you dismiss the usual completely unreliable human factor. You got numbers. If they are higher, you have to pay if not, you are off the hook.
Architecture is not rocket science and most of the time following the good practice is enough.
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Old 06.04.2021, 16:28
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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Sorry, anecdotal evidence is not worth much. I work in the field and I know very well that if something is made wrong the investor will go fully on everyone involved. It is really easy thing for them. As I mentioned, I was once in the process, they just hire a company who brings measuring device and let it inside a room for few days. Nothing complicated, and you dismiss the usual completely unreliable human factor. You got numbers. If they are higher, you have to pay if not, you are off the hook.
Architecture is not rocket science and most of the time following the good practice is enough.
I own a house that has noise insulation issues, hence my knowledge is based on experience. I know of other houses/buildings with similar issues.
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Old 07.04.2021, 08:48
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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...

Conversations
Only very quiet conversations in the stair-well, or calling out of a window to downstairs. This at all times.
Juliet: "O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?"

Neighbour: "Oi ! STFU!"



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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.
Was this an old-people's home?

Seriously Doropfiz, I know you mean well in your posts but there's being considerate and then there's letting everyone walk all over you.

Sometimes we need to stand tall and not give in to the aggressors.
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Old 07.04.2021, 09:38
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

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Was this an old-people's home?

Seriously Doropfiz, I know you mean well in your posts but there's being considerate and then there's letting everyone walk all over you.

Sometimes we need to stand tall and not give in to the aggressors.
Exactly ... living in close quarters, you have to accept that you will hear and perhaps even smell your neighbors. Sure, I am annoyed regularly by them, but that comes with the package of living in an apartment in the middle of the city...give and take people, otherwise move to the middle of nowhere, where I am sure some pesky wildlife will annoy you too.

There have been two times in my 20 years of living in flats where I have had to kindly request quiet from my neighbor:

1) Allowing their hyperactive two year old to run around, scream and play above us at 4 AM on a Sunday morning, regularly. I left a note with a toy for the child and chocolates for them...hardly happened again.

2) The neigbor below us was a nurse who left her home for her shift at 3 AM...we had those old school metal outside window blinds that hadn't been serviced for 20+ years and it woke us up in our deep sleep every AM. I kindly requested that she not do this with a bottle of wine and it never happened again.

I have only received one noise complaint ever and I'm still bitter about it. Had a small party in my current flat and she ran the door bell at exactly 10 PM on a Friday night. (Meanwhile I have to listen to her interesting sex life on the reg.) Now anytime I have a party, I leave her wine or chocolates with a note days in advance and she hasn't complained about it since.
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Old 07.04.2021, 11:03
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Re: Sound Sensitive Owner right below my flat

As long as you are being considerate and reasonable in your behaviour, then a concession to a troublesome neighbour will only lead to more complaints concerning your behaviour, and more apologies and concessions from you.
It will be an unbearable downhill spiral until you dare not move, or cough, or sneeze in your home.

To you, it would seem that you are the bad neighbour and are constantly upsetting your neighbours when the reverse is probably true.


Some new neighbours moved in to a ground floor flat near us last summer.

On the first night, a Saturday night, they had many friends and family round and made a racket in their garden until about one in the morning.

Still, it was their first night so although it was annoying for those who wanted to sleep, people thought that it wasn't the end of the world.

The very next night, a Sunday night, they did exactly the same thing with the same large group again until around one in the morning.

I don't know who spoke to them but they never did it again.

There can be a difference between unreasonable behaviour and unreasonable neighbours.
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Old 06.04.2021, 16:40
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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
You are not banned form making any noise, but the noise does have to be reasonable and you do need to be considerate.

1) Speaking on the phone at any time is not banned but before 7am or after 10pm you should be keeping your voice as low as possible. If you are being loud on the phone late at night then it's not so reasonable.

2) Having friends around after 10pm is not banned... you can do it but just keep noise levels reasonable.

3) High heels in an apartment on a hard floor makes a lot of focused footstep noise and is obviously inconsiderate. You shouldn't need to be told this.

In the end you might not agree on everything with your neighbour but as long as you are being reasonable then you are entitled to live a normal life and she has to learn to live with a reasonable amount of noise.
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