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Old 24.10.2021, 17:40
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My neighbours stink

So here I am, also now looking for good intentioned advice. Hope that my my voluntary premiums of paying into EF have been worth it:

I live in a lovely 4 story house (on the top floor) in a sought-after area of Zurich 8006 since 16 years. Happily, the rent is therefore affordable. It’s been wonderful here, and my daughter (now 26) sees it as her home. Got it through the personal recommendation of a friend that lives downstairs, and her sister that lived in the house next door. To put it frankly, I would be hard pushed to find a replacement apartment at the same cost (similar apartments cost a lot more nowadays in this area - at around 4000 - 5000 pm).

The neighbours that moved into the floor below me last month (Swiss, adult children already moved out), replaced my previous neighbours that had been there since before me. All four apartments lived through the renovations this summer - new kitchen, bathroom and other renovations.

I was happy to bump-into the new neighbours recently, and find them really OK - children have also moved out, so no kids noise there, and in the meantime they seem really considerate (it’s a 105 y.o apartment, so the sound insulation is pretty much non-existent). That’s OK - you get used to it over the years.

My problem is - I was talking to the husband in the Treppenhaus a couple of weeks ago, and they had their door wide open - the smell that came from their apartment (freshly renovated) was unbearable. Thought that they are maybe just people that bio-degrade in their own apartment, and as long as they keep their door shut, I shouldn’t care.

But have noticed an increased, extremely unpleasant smell that comes into my apartment from the floor below (I have to change my clothes mid-day because the stench just hangs on them). It’s not my apartment or clothes - have checked many times. If I open my door, or the windows to my apartment or balcony on some days, the stench just hits me from below.

Today they kept their apartment door fully open (?), so I had the stench coming not only from the inside but also the treppenhaus if I opened my window.

So, am a bit perplexed - I am a person that likes fresh air, and has their windows wide open whenever possible - how do I approach this in an amiable manner - any ideas?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 24.10.2021, 17:47
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Re: My neighbours stink

Talk to your other neighbours and, if they agree, work together to find a solution. If they donít agree see a doctor to have your sense of smell checked.

Is it Friday already?
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Old 24.10.2021, 17:50
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Re: My neighbours stink

Simply talk to them. Maybe theyíre not aware of the smell.

Give them a chance to try tidy the situation.
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Old 24.10.2021, 17:52
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Re: My neighbours stink

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Talk to your other neighbours and, if they agree, work together to find a solution. If they donít agree see a doctor to have your sense of smell checked.

Is it Friday already?
No, itís not Friday - itís reality
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Old 24.10.2021, 17:53
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Re: My neighbours stink

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Simply talk to them. Maybe they’re not aware of the smell.

Give them a chance to try tidy the situation.
So, how would you approach your nice neighbours to tell them that the small of their apartment is dreadful?
My sense of smell is perfectly normal btw. (As well as my mental health)
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Old 24.10.2021, 17:56
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Re: My neighbours stink

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So, how would you approach your nice neighbours to tell them that the small of their apartment is dreadful?
Excuse me. Iím not sure if youíre aware of it but thereís a bad smell coming out of your apartment which I can now smell in my flat too.

Then wait for a reply.

Most people will apologize and find a solution.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:02
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Re: My neighbours stink

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Excuse me. I’m not sure if you’re aware of it but there’s a bad smell coming out of your apartment which I can now smell in my flat too.

Then wait for a reply.

Most people will apologize and find a solution.
I believe it is from their furniture (as if it’s been an apartment that hasn’t been aired for the past 50 years despite regular fat frying etc. etc. etc. smells - but far worse than you can imagine). They left their last property near Bahnhof Enge because it had to be demolished apparently. My Vermieterin is a good soul…

So, I can’t possibly ask them to remove their furniture or carpets.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:09
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Re: My neighbours stink

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So, how would you approach your nice neighbours to tell them that the small of their apartment is dreadful?
My sense of smell is perfectly normal btw. (As well as my mental health)
Yeah, that's a difficult situation. I think that when it comes to having to say something like that, it's often a matter of how it is phrased exactly and the tone that you use (as to hopefully not offend them). Perhaps if you see them in the hallway or near the door, you could strike up a conversation with them and then kind of 'jokingly' ask what it is in their apartment that smells so strange? You could ask it more as though you are asking out of curiosity than in an accusatory manner. But perhaps they would at least then get the hint that the smell is offensive to you.

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I believe it is from their furniture (as if itís been an apartment that hasnít been aired for the past 50 years despite regular fat frying etc. etc. etc. smells - but far worse than you can imagine). They left their last property near Bahnhof Enge because it had to be demolished apparently. My Vermieterin is a good soulÖ

So, I canít possibly ask them to remove their furniture or carpets.
Maybe you could slip a few bottles of Fabreze in their mailbox, anonymously.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:10
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Re: My neighbours stink

Just see where the conversation takes you. Good luck.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:16
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Re: My neighbours stink

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Yeah, that's a difficult situation. I think that when it comes to having to say something like that, it's often a matter of how it is phrased exactly and the tone that you use (as to hopefully not offend them). Perhaps if you see them in the hallway or near the door, you could strike up a conversation with them and then kind of 'jokingly' ask what it is in their apartment that smells so strange? You could ask it more as though you are asking out of curiosity than in an accusatory manner. But perhaps they would at least then get the hint that the smell is offensive to you.



Maybe you could slip a few bottles of Fabreze in their mailbox, anonymously.
Have thought of both possibilities, but they seem to only speak Swiss German (and mine is not eloquent enough to phrase something like that), and am worried that placing a bottle of Febreze in their mailbox might seem aggressive.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:30
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Re: My neighbours stink

I had the same experience once ... and we knew what the stink was. (New baby, overwhelmed older parents - diapers). We spoke with them very kindly and they looked at us like we were totally nuts ... shrugged and said they had no idea what we were talking about. And yet ... the smell never appeared again.

Iím sorry I didnít catch in your post ... is it all the same landlord? Iíd reach out to your landlord if they arenít cooperative. Luckily in our case they were.

Good luck!!
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:34
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Re: My neighbours stink

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Have thought of both possibilities, but they seem to only speak Swiss German (and mine is not eloquent enough to phrase something like that), and am worried that placing a bottle of Febreze in their mailbox might seem aggressive.
Oh, okay... Do you not speak any high German? I guess I always assumed that most Swiss people can also speak and understand high German, but for all I know, maybe some can't.

Yeah, I was just half-joking about the Fabreze. But only half. It does sound like they're so use to "the stink" that they don't even smell or notice it.

Somewhat similar (but not nearly as bad)... Whenever the door to the apartment across from us has been opened, an extremely strong musty perfume smell leaks out into the hallway. It's so overpowering that it makes my eyes water. It reminds me of those old perfumes from a long time ago that would smell really bad. For a long time, I wondered what it was exactly (and how they can deal with it), and then finally one time when I was in their house visiting them, I noticed that they have one of those automatic room deodorizer spray thing located on a shelf just next to their front door. The kind that auto-sprays every half hour or so. Behold! The stink source. They're so nice, though, that I've never said anything about it -- and especially since I only notice it when I'm in the hallway anyways.

I hope you can get your situation remedied.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:39
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Re: My neighbours stink

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I had the same experience once ... and we knew what the stink was. (New baby, overwhelmed older parents - diapers). We spoke with them very kindly and they looked at us like we were totally nuts ... shrugged and said they had no idea what we were talking about. And yet ... the smell never appeared again.

Iím sorry I didnít catch in your post ... is it all the same landlord? Iíd reach out to your landlord if they arenít cooperative. Luckily in our case they were.

Good luck!!
Thanks, I might need to do that - I think that if you are used to such smells in your home that you probably donít even notice them anymore, and they are either not aware or do not care.

They talk about a invitation to all apartments once they have settled in, and hopefully the other residents would then back me up if I need to go so far to make a complaint to the Vermieterin.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:42
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Re: My neighbours stink

One cause of a heightened sensitivity to smells can be pregnancy


Can you describe the smell ? Is it mould, old cigarette smoke, compost ?
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:43
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Re: My neighbours stink

Perhaps as with battling hi fi systems, the answer is to kick up a stink of your own. Get into fish frying in a big way. Procure durian. Store garbage. Ferment raclette. Show them who's boss.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:47
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Re: My neighbours stink

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Oh, okay... Do you not speak any high German? I guess I always assumed that most Swiss people can also speak and understand high German, but for all I know, maybe some can't.

Yeah, I was just half-joking about the Fabreze. But only half. It does sound like they're so use to "the stink" that they don't even smell or notice it.

Somewhat similar (but not nearly as bad)... Whenever the door to the apartment across from us has been opened, an extremely strong musty perfume smell leaks out into the hallway. It's so overpowering that it makes my eyes water. It reminds me of those old perfumes from a long time ago that would smell really bad. For a long time, I wondered what it was exactly (and how they can deal with it), and then finally one time when I was in their house visiting them, I noticed that they have one of those automatic room deodorizer spray thing located on a shelf just next to their front door. The kind that auto-sprays every half hour or so. Behold! The stink source. They're so nice, though, that I've never said anything about it -- and especially since I only notice it when I'm in the hallway anyways.

I hope you can get your situation remedied.
Thanks! Yes my high German is pretty good, but when trying to speak with a Swiss German speaking Ďopponentí in a potentially inflaming discussion it disintegrates into absolute drivel.

Have been thinking about getting one of those ďmovementĒ detector deodorizing sprays for the Treppenhaus.
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:49
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Re: My neighbours stink

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One cause of a heightened sensitivity to smells can be pregnancy


Can you describe the smell ? Is it mould, old cigarette smoke, compost ?
At my 58 years, that’s a little unlikely - it’s a very strong compost smell
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Old 24.10.2021, 18:54
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Re: My neighbours stink

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Perhaps as with battling hi fi systems, the answer is to kick up a stink of your own. Get into fish frying in a big way. Procure durian. Store garbage. Ferment raclette. Show them who's boss.
Have considered all those alternatives (in my dreams), but as I live on the top floor - none would really disturb the neighbours below. And as we’re only four parties in one house it’s important that a good environment exists between not only the renter but also the Vermieterin.
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Old 24.10.2021, 19:03
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Re: My neighbours stink

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At my 58 years, that’s a little unlikely - it’s a very strong compost smell
Ewwww. Do you think they're keeping their compost waste inside their house? Or do you see anywhere on a window ledge of theirs where they might be keeping a mini compost bin and then the smell is rising up to you? (I ask because I think a lot of people keep compost bins on their window ledges).

Honestly, I wouldn't hesitate to say something about it to them. You deserve to be able to have your windows open without having to deal with that stench. If there was some kind of nasty smell emanating from my house that was bothering any of my neighbors, I'd want to be made aware of it so that I could put a stop to it.
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Old 24.10.2021, 19:06
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Ewwww. Do you think they're keeping their compost waste inside their house? Or do you see anywhere on a window ledge of theirs where they might be keeping a mini compost bin and then the smell is rising up to you? (I ask because I think a lot of people keep compost bins on their window ledges).

Honestly, I wouldn't hesitate to say something about it to them. You deserve to be able to have your windows open without having to deal with that stench. If there was some kind of nasty smell emanating from my house that was bothering any of my neighbors, I'd want to be made aware of it so that I could put a stop to it.
That’s a very good approach - could go with that in a discussion! They seem to be the “down to the earth” kind of people, could well be that this is the problem! Thanks! Will prepare my German vocabulary for this discussion…
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