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Old 16.08.2020, 17:20
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Our neighbor from hell

I’ve put off writing this post for quite some time, but my family and I are just getting sick of it, and I need to rant and seek advice.

I moved into our apartment with my wife and daughter in 2016. We’re on floor 1, we had a couple with an infant above us, a quiet nurse beside us, and our neighbors from hell above them (not directly above us). When we moved here, the tenant above us smoked. I also smoked. My smoke was never an issue, and they smoked cigars. Eventually they moved out and the apartment above my balcony became vacant for about two years. When we moved in, our neighbor from hell smoked on her balcony, and the smoke frequently went into our apartment. My wife doesn't smoke, and this annoyed her, but she didn't do anything about it. I guess she stopped smoking at some point. After two years, our neighbor from hell moved into the apartment directly above us.

Our neighbor from hell started off as simply a nuisance. She is a pensioner, who has a somewhat younger husband that had a job as a traffic director until he lost his job recently due to COVID-19. She's an older, retired lady who literally has nothing to do all day (her words). This tenant is the type of person that will start talking to you in the hallway and won't let you go for 15 minutes. She does this to my wife, and the other tenants. She does this with the hired cleaning lady who comes around once a week to clean the building, garden, etc. She talks to her for the entire four hours that the lady is here. She talks loudly. The hallway echos. We can hear every word that's said for four hours weekly. We can hear her when we're in our bedroom. We can hear her in our bathroom. We can hear her all the time.

My wife sometimes wouldn't leave the apartment because this neighbor was in the hall and didn't want to be terrorized by her.

She's also the type of person that is never happy, and always has something to complain about - be it something in her life, a problem with the apartment, a problem with another tenant, people in the neighborhood, etc. She enjoys badmouthing people to others. The association that owns our building is not happy with this tenant, and from what I've overheard, they don't want her there, but she's done nothing to warrant being kicked out. Anecdote time; this tenant barged in on a meeting of the association to complain about something (highly irregular), and the president of the association lost his shit on her and even threw a chair at her and now she's suing them. I don't blame this guy, frankly. It's hard to understand the depth of this situation without living it day to day.

Once my wife was coming home from work and was on her cell phone taking a very important phone call, and this tenant started yelling for my wife's attention to tell us that there wasn't any hot water working. My wife signalled to her that she was on the phone (in an effort to get away and have her stop talking), and this tenant just started yelling my wife's name, to which my wife freaked on her, after 3 years of constantly being bothered everytime we come home, said, "I'M ON THE PHONE", and came into our house.

Since that day, the tenant has stopped talking to us altogether. She has a dog my daughter likes to play with outside; now she doesn't let her. (Hey, it’s her dog, she can do what she wants.)

I quit smoking about a year ago, but when I did smoke, I was usually smoking about one cigarette every hour or two. Maybe more or less - depends. I have a 9 year old daughter and would never smoke in the house. We have a single balcony. When I'm out there, I'm silent, I never play music or anything. I try to be as low-key as possible when I smoke regardless of where I am. This tenant who has now moved in above us, apparently, had a problem with my smoking. She has not said anything to us directly, but every time I’d go out to smoke, I can hear her above me, on her balcony, complaining to I don't know who about the fact that I'm "always smoking". Then she starts slamming her balcony door closed. It seems she spends her entire day out on the balcony. There's not a single time I've gone out that she isn't out there. She eats all of her meals out there, too. She even made fun of me to guests when she thought I couldn’t hear, saying in local dialect, “he's just a foreigner that doesn’t understand anything”.

One morning, I was awoken to the sound of this tenant bad-mouthing me to the weekly cleaning lady directly outside our bedroom window about my smoking. I've lived here longer than she's lived above me. She knew I smoked before she moved in. Ever since that small altercation with my wife has she started to act like this towards us. For years we were bombarded by her every time we left our apartment, we're awoken by her voice often. I was suddenly made to feel like I'm a bad person for doing something I've always done.

One night in January, they had some friends over for dinner. My daughter was trying to sleep, but you could hear every word of the four peoples conversation in her room as if they were on the other side of a thin wall - and this building is pure concrete. By 23:00, and it hadn’t stopped, my daughter asked me if she could go upstairs to talk to them to ask them to be quiet. I figured, well, what’s the worst that could happen? She won’t yell at a 9-year-old. Wrong.

My daughter, who is a sweetheart, said in the kindest, most polite way possible, if they could please be a little more quiet, she couldn’t sleep. This neighbor from hell berated her and spoke to her as if she was some sort of enemy storming her castle. My daughter immediately started to cry and ran back to our apartment. (I was waiting in the hallway) The neighbor proceeded to yell and scream at the top of her lungs for another 45 minutes, stopping her feet on the floor. I made a huge mistake allowing my daughter to take that from her - I just didn’t think anyone could be so rude and inconsiderate towards a child.

But it doesn’t stop there. Any time I cook, like tonight, for example, Spaghetti bolognese, she's out there complaining as loudly as possible that she can’t stand smelling our cooking. It’s summer, it's hot. Why in god’s name do I have to completely shut myself out to appease her sense of smell?

On top of this -- I can’t stress this enough -- she never… stops… talking. Again, it's summer, we have to have our windows open - and we can hear every word she says inside her own apartment - she's just that loud. There’s no respite. We can’t enjoy a moment of peace or quiet on our balcony - she's either on hers talking loudly and complaining about everything under the sun, or inside her apartment talking loudly, incessantly. When she's inside, she walks with a lead foot. We hear every step she makes. We’ve also been made aware that she has said untrue things about us to people in the neighborhood, but we can’t say for SURE it was her, and to whom, and exactly what. Just rumors that came back to us. I can’t stand this.

This neighbor also makes it her duty to routinely call the apartment administrator and tell them every single thing we do wrong, according to her. Thankfully, because of our business and the fact that we’re actually pretty model tenants, the administrator takes everything with a grain of salt because she knows how frivolous this neighbor can be. From what we know, they’ve stopped taking her calls as she calls multiple times per week.

There is no talking to this person. There’s no bargaining. There’s no reasoning. If the people who own our building won’t do anything about her, I’m not sure what chance we have in reasoning. We’ve started a business in a building next to our apartment, and we’ve done an official change of destination for this building (which is also owned and rented by our same landlord). For this reason, we are also beyond “just moving”. My daughter has her school friends here, we can’t move.

We’re just at wits end with this person. We’ve found ourselves changing our habits and routines just to avoid this person, avoid their sensibilities, but it’s just become too much. We don’t know what to do. We’re worried about the fact that she may be saying untrue things about us potentially damaging our business reputation simply because she hates us -- and I have a strong suspicion that it’s because I’m an immigrant.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:02
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

I know you shouldn't have to but move. These types don't give up until they think they've won. You'll never win against the building high priestess.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:08
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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I know you shouldn't have to but move. These types don't give up until they think they've won. You'll never win against the building high priestess.
I really can't move. My business really requires me to be there often and at odd hours. If I move, but don't move the business (which would be INSANELY costly), I'd basically never see my family. I also can't rip my daughter from her friends.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:14
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

Awkward. She sounds like a right cow.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:16
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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Awkward. She sounds like a right cow.
Reading this from the bathroom right now, and just, *bang bang bang bang bang* from the floor above me. It's just so ever-present.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:21
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

You could try mediation. Am I right in thinking that you live in Ticino? If you think it's worth going down that route I could try and find out how best to go about it.

Here's a list where you can access mediators working in Ticino. I have no idea how much this would cost. Maybe other affected neighbours could be brought on board. Think class-action mediation. I'd find out a bit more how mediation would work for you and how much it would cost. Perhaps you might run this info past the owner and see if he/she is willing to partake.

I wouldn't do like for like – escalation isn't going to bring results. Not the kind that you'd want anyway.

https://search.mediation-ch.org/search

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Old 16.08.2020, 18:23
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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You could try mediation. Am I right in thinking that you live in Ticino? If you think it's worth going down that route I could try and find out how best to go about it.

I'm not sure what there is to mediate. She just doesn't like us now. We'd be down for anything if it worked, but that seems, at this point, fruitless. Yes, Ticino.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:23
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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Reading this from the bathroom right now, and just, *bang bang bang bang bang* from the floor above me. It's just so ever-present.
Dont worry an EF veteran will be a long shortly to suggest you write her a registered letter, join the tenant association and call your legal insurance.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:25
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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Dont worry an EF veteran will be a long shortly to suggest you write her a registered letter, join the tenant association and call your legal insurance.
Well, asking your landlord and the tenants organisation is not bad advice in this case. Moving houses as you proposed is not always possible/that easy.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:29
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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Dont worry an EF veteran will be a long shortly to suggest you write her a registered letter, join the tenant association and call your legal insurance.
Thank you, I needed that laugh.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:32
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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Well, asking your landlord and the tenants organisation is not bad advice in this case. Moving houses as you proposed is not always possible/that easy.
I've seen this advice a lot, but I'm not sure I have, or am in, or am a part of a tenants organization/association. What is it, exactly?
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:37
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

Have you already tried asking your landlord to rent you an appartment in a different building, nearby?
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:37
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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I've seen this advice a lot, but I'm not sure I have, or am in, or am a part of a tenants organization/association. What is it, exactly?
In Ticino it's the ASI - Associazione Svizzera Inquilini. Anyone can join and seek help with issues related to your tenancy.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:38
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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I'm not sure what there is to mediate. She just doesn't like us now. We'd be down for anything if it worked, but that seems, at this point, fruitless. Yes, Ticino.
"Mediation is a procedure in which the parties discuss their disputes with the assistance of a trained impartial third person(s) who assists them in reaching a settlement. It may be an informal meeting among the parties or a scheduled settlement conference.

The mediator is a person with patience, persistence and common sense. She/he has an arsenal of negotiation techniques, human dynamics skills and powers of effective listening, articulation and restatement. The mediator is a facilitator who has no power to render a resolution to the conflict."

I gather it sometimes works for couples who are stuck together and it is also used in workplace situations.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:38
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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Have you already tried asking your landlord to rent you an appartment in a different building, nearby?
Unfortunately, they only own this building and the one we rent for the business.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:45
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

Have you tried all the landlords in the vicinity? Go on foot, look at every building, try to get into the hallway or talk to people to ask who the landlord is. Apply there. Specifically say that you wish to stay in the area because of your business and daughter's school. Design one plain sentence as a reason, in case you are ever asked for your reason to leave your current building. For example: "We're quiet people and the current building where we live is not well insulated."

Also, draw up a flyer and deposit it in all the private letter-boxes within your chosen zone (near your daughter's school, near your business, and concentric circles from there, and on practical bus routes) asking anyone who is leaving to let you know.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:55
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

you could try driving her out of the building.
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Old 16.08.2020, 18:58
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

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you could try driving her out of the building.
I feel like this would be easier than moving
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Old 16.08.2020, 20:16
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

I can think of four similar self-proclaimed high priests/priestesses of buildings, twice I have encountered one as a neighbour, the other two are from the tales of woe of friends elsewhere.

Never yet have I seen any success, at all, not one millimetre, in driving them out, or getting them to behave less instrusively. Not even when all the neighbours wish she/he would leave, not even when they have written to the landlord to complain.

As I see it, people who have claimed, for themselves, an abolute right to be right or superior, all the times, and to point out everyone else's faults, seem to be infinitely creative in finding a new way to criticise, pressurise, insult and crush others, because therein lies their sense of self-definition (much like bullies anywhere). Perhaps that's why OP and family cannot simply relax in the fact that the woman upstairs has decided not to talk to them (and rejoice!): unfortunately, she deflects and finds new ways to make their lives a burden.

If I were in your position, I would to the following:
  • Try to avoid her as much as possible.
  • Do not hide in your flat, but find a way to wear some mental armour.
  • Do not engage in any conversation with her. To avoid it, develop two standard sentences to say, if she starts, that will always true and can be said on all occasions: e.g. "I can't talk to you now; I'm on my way to something," and if she's making a complaint: "Please put that in writing, to us." (Collect those letters, if they come, because they are very likely to work against her, when you speak to your landlord.)
  • Ask the other neighbours how they feel and what their strategy is. Ask them to let the landlord know, ideally in writing, but even by phone, if they feel disturbed by her.
  • Let the landlord know (and be as plain and business-like as possible, just facts, with dates and times and what she did, not too many feelings) that you feel she is disturbing your proper use of the flat you rent.
  • Spend your energy trying to find another home in the vicinity.

Last edited by doropfiz; 17.08.2020 at 19:08. Reason: typo
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Old 16.08.2020, 21:44
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Re: Our neighbor from hell

I can imagine she's a friend from hell, a neighbor from hell, a customer from hell, a tenant from hell and she's going to live a long life because even the devil doesn't want her.
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