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Old 31.07.2010, 20:37
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Neighbours and Noise

Hi,

Just reading the thread on neighbours with noisy kids and another one about neighbours in Complaints - it's interesting as we are going through a similar episode at the moment - though my point of view is slightly off-topic in either case hence a different thread.

We moved from Basel to Zürich recently having been in Basel for nearly 9 years. Our son is 3 years old and as a baby did his fare share of screaming and running about as a toddler - we never once had the neighbours complain; though we did our best to minimise the noise - at the end of the day you will never get it to zero as hard as you try. But we have lived in Switzerland for long enough to know the score.

In our new place in Zürich, we had the keys to the place a few weeks before we properly moved in so we spent a night here around Ascension Day on lilos just to get him used to the idea of moving. In the morning, a couple of times around the 10am mark, he bounced a little rubber ball he has on the parquet flooring and seconds later the neighbour from downstairs came to complain. Fair enough - we apologised and promised to prevent a recurrence.

After we moved in we held an apéro for all neigbours in the block and got on first name terms - including with the couple downstairs. So we put the previous incident down to a one-off.

About a week ago, my wifes brother came with his family from Amsterdam on their way to holiday in Italy and stayed overnight. Of course, the kids got a bit loud and at 10:01pm exactly the downstairs neighbour came. Again, fair cop and I apologised. Then she went on to complain about all the noise we make before 7am - which surprised me a little.

Normally I get up at 6am and do a few exercises on a yoga mat we have, have a quick shower (which is allowed in Swiss law - forget the urban myths) and breakfast before leaving for the office around 7:30ish - so I asked if it was any of that. She said no, it is our son running about. I was amazed as he is usually up out of bed just before I leave - before that he is asleep so not running about; and we're pretty strict on him running indoors - though he forgets himself from time to time as 3 year olds do and we check him. So if there is any sound from him, it is outside the "Nachtrühe" time - and I explained that the law allows children to play (the Swiss German word is "Gspännli") in the apartment - of course we do our best to minimise inconvenience to the neighbours.

Having lost that argument she then changed tack and told us that her (two teenagers) kids want to have a lie in during the school holidays so we have to be dead quiet even outside the Nachtrühe time. In my experience, any teenager needs an atom bomb under their bed to get them up before lunchtime - so that argument did not wash; however I just said we'll do our best but she must appreciate that the law allows for a certain amount of noise during the day when it constitutes normal use of the residence and that we can't put our son in a straight-jacket.

She also complained about the fact that as I am walking to the lift to go to the office (a 5 second walk) - he says "bye bye Daddy" a couple of times in the hallway. So now we do whispered "bye byes" - even if it is outside the quiet period.

As it is, the woman has some health issues - some kind of hip joint problem so I imagine she does not sleep well (and co-proxamol - the usual painkiller in such cases - is fairly poky stuff that plays havoc with your judgement) so I do try to see it from her side; but by the same token we can't be expected to live like monks. I should add that the same neighbours had an air-conditioning unit going into the night during the hot weather a few weeks back which kept me awake; and she smokes what smells like Navy Cut on the balcony which makes our balcony unusable on occasion. However I'll let it go as I imagine she gets few pleasures in life at the moment.

I have mentioned the whole episode to quite a few Swiss colleagues - young and old - who tell me we are in the right and we should consider writing to the apartment management (Verwaltung) - however I will hold off from that one for the time being as I don't want to go poking a wasp's nest. Ultimately the solution is to find a proper house with its own garden (already started looking) however we still have to live here so we just smile politely and do our best to keep them sweet. All the other neighbours are fine.

Of course I haven't told them yet that I am a keen piccolo player in a Basel Fasnacht clique...

Cheers,
Nick
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Old 31.07.2010, 20:49
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

Sounds like another neighbor from hell.

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About a week ago, my wife's brother came with his family from Amsterdam on their way to holiday in Italy and stayed overnight. Of course, the kids got a bit loud and at 10:01 pm exactly the downstairs neighbour came.
In such cases, it would not hurt to "warn" the neighbors and ask for their indulgence.
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Old 31.07.2010, 21:12
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

It sounds a little too..unreasonably anal. In fact it sounds like they are actually harassing you. I wonder if she gets to interact with anyone else or she just happy she can at least talk to you..eventhough she complains. I would ignore her complaints and keep smiling, anytime she comes with sumfin else, I'd say "yeah, this house really is poorly built, innit, smile, nod, shake head a bit, what can we do, smile". And your son should be allowed to talk normally in the hall, no yelling that is, but normal nice talk.. I know how hard it is to keep a 3yr old quiet, you can only do so much, anyways..
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Old 31.07.2010, 21:14
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

Is this some sort of a joke? Your son has to whisper "bye bye" in the morning? Tell them to go to hell - if they want to live in dead silence, perhaps an apartment isn't the correct living arrangement for them.
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Old 31.07.2010, 21:14
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

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In such cases, it would not hurt to "warn" the neighbors and ask for their indulgence.
You're right of course. Perhaps I should have told them they can use their air-conditioning all they like.

Cheers,
Nick
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Old 31.07.2010, 21:20
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

Your neighbor sounds like an unreasonable Q@#$&*#$(*&%)! She seems to be trying to find any excuse to argue with you and you so far have been extremely nice...thank God you are still allowed to fart! The bye byes at the door, is she kidding me? Poor you, it is good that you speak the language!
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Old 31.07.2010, 21:23
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

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Hi,
Ultimately the solution is to find a proper house with its own garden
I hate to tell you this, Nick, but - I own a proper house with it's own garden, auf dem Land... and I am looking to move away because a neighbor has complained about noise.

I'm not sure one can ever get away from it.

Even out here, one can here a pin drop. There is none of the gleeful babbling of children as they play outside, no cheerful greetings over the garden fences - none of the normal happy sounds of people going about their lives that are an integral part of the background of community life everywhere else that I've lived.

I'm finally beginning to understand the saying 'The silence is deafening'.

I've always thought of myself as a quiet person, and certainly I try to be respectful of those around me - but the requirement of pristine silence is a cultural gap I just cannot bridge.

My Swiss colleagues tell me that complaining to/about one's neighbors is the norm, a sort of national sport, and I should just (quietly ) HTFU. But who wants to live with the stress?

I hope you find somewhere where your child can be a child - a happy, healthy, playful, open - and yes, at times noisy - completely normal child.

All the best.
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Old 31.07.2010, 21:28
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

The solution is to live in the noise, not in the quiet. We live on Niederdorf, in a primarily commercial building (seems to be engineering companies and a doctor surgery, though I hardly see anyone). My girlfriend plays her music at times loud past midnight and has done so for years and we've never had a complaint. There is a Spanish family and somebody there plays a piano very loudly (however to be honest, it's concert standard and I consider it to be a perk of the building). You can't really complain about noise here because it's louder outside.
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Old 31.07.2010, 21:38
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

I think the OP has behaved more than reasonably.

This thread and the referenced thread(s) made me think of 2 key differences for the English, moving to CH (or DE). (Not a criticism of anyone, merely chewing the fat)
  1. one might have given up a detached house with garden in the UK, in exhcnage for an apartment in CH, with any number of party walls
  2. one is launched into a country with what might be described as "more rules and regulations governing more aspects of life and behaviour than in the UK"
Stuff that one used to do at home (have barbies, with music until the small hours, putting the world to rights until the small hours in the garden) is "not the done thing" in CH, and is comprehensively legislated against.

/GD
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Old 31.07.2010, 21:48
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

honestly it sounds like you have done everything right and this woman is taking advantage of having someone actually listening and paying attention to her. just out of curiousity, have you spoken at all to the spouse (if there is one, or the kids) just to see if it is a question of weird judgement on her part?

i kinda go with the bit about telling her to go to hell too. do what you can during quiet hours, but like it has been said, he's a kid and has a right to be, well, a kid. what a sad thing that your little one has to whisper byebye to you- it seems really unfair and cruel. maybe in terms of lowering the noise you can put carpets in? but in terms of making allowances, pick your battles and stick to them...

have you spoken with the concierge about her claims/demands? or the other tenants- i would suggest to do that just to cover yourself.
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Old 31.07.2010, 23:31
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

Nick,

Our last appartment downstairs neighbours was a woman suffering of a kind of physical pain and I felt sorry for her at the beginning. But she began to harassed me and made my life hell because she thought he has the right to do so because she was suffering. So I had to pay for it....

Don't let her personal condition being an excuse to accept more. Live your life and be a good neighbour. For the rest, this is her problem, not yours.
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Old 31.07.2010, 23:38
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

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..thank God you are still allowed to fart!
Actually under the Cohabitation Apartment Housing Regulations 2.3.1 owners must give prior warning to other occupants of any shared dwelling two weeks in advance of the incident.

Its listed in the Makinfartennoiseninhausen brochure available at the local government offices
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Old 31.07.2010, 23:39
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

Unfortunately as a previous poster said, this happens everywhere...
My cousin bought a house 6 years ago, she lives in Italy and has 3 boys...they have a semi detached house
One of her neighbors made her life impossible threatening her, complaining about the noise, these are kids, they can be loud but nothing out of the ordinary...So a year ago she had enough, the neighbor had come inside her house without knocking, started yelling blah blah blah because she was listening to music at 11 am on a Tuesday! Anyways, my cousin lost it yelled back at her and told her to get the hell out of her house or she;d call the police and sue her for harassment and psychological torture...the old hag stopped it and now minds her own business...sometimes you have to be clear where you are going to draw the line I guess...but 5 years of harassing was lot to take!
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Old 31.07.2010, 23:43
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

Add to that, purchase of baked beans is only permissible on production of a "Furzgenerierendlebensmittelbewilligung" - signed in triplicate from the local Kreisburo.

Cheers,
Nick

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Actually under the Cohabitation Apartment Housing Regulations 2.3.1 owner must give prior warning to other occupants of any shared dwelling two weeks in advance of the incident.

Its listed in the Makinfartennoiseninhausen brochure available at the local government offices
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Old 31.07.2010, 23:44
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

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Actually under the Cohabitation Apartment Housing Regulations 2.3.1 owner must give prior warning to other occupants of any shared dwelling two weeks in advance of the incident.

Its listed in the Makinfartennoiseninhausen brochure available at the local government offices
I fail to see your point
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Old 31.07.2010, 23:45
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

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I fail to see your point
EDIT: now I get it
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Old 01.08.2010, 00:07
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

Nick,

All I can say is W.T.F.

I cannot believe that you and your son have to whisper goodbye in the mornings. Its not as if he makes a fuss and cries in the doorway when you leave. Effing ridiculous.

The next time she tries to complain again, I would just tell her nicely and calmly that she has no right to complain any activities of yours from 7am to 10pm. If she is so inflexible as to bang on your door at 10.01pm, she should not expect people to pander to her teenage sons during this period of time as well. Between neighbours, its all about give and take isnt it?

Seems like she is doing all the taking and none of the giving.

Sorry but I am of the opinion that she is that sort of person, who if given an inch, will take a yard. She will never be 100% pacified. You and your son already walking on eggshells which isnt fair. You have every right to live a normal life as she does.
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Old 10.08.2010, 17:52
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Re: Neighbours and Noise - update

A work colleague who lives in the same apartment complex told me the family in question are well known to the management company - I won't go into specifics - and they are really nothing to worry about.

If they bother us again I will write to the management company.

Cheers,
Nick
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Old 10.08.2010, 17:58
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

Boy, your neighbors sure would hate it around here what with all the kids outside running around laughing and yelling and being kids on the soccer field. After living in a neighborhood in the US where you never saw any kids running around except at Halloween, it's a welcome change.
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Old 11.08.2010, 14:15
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Re: Neighbours and Noise

what a nightmare !

Thank god my neighbours are very nice and have never complained even if we have a 2 year hyperactive child that throws toys on the floor then and then.

The only thing that happened where that we watched a horror movie one night, and I muted the sound briefly to check on our sleeping daughter, and when I switched on the sound again there was a monstrous woman scream in death pain.

I quickly muted again, but heard the neighbours upstairs starting to walk around and talking. (they probably thought I stabbed my wife in her sleep or so)

If I recieved this treatment I would:

1. Tell them to STFU and GTFO
2. Make a lot more noise during the hours you are allowed to do so and shout "tsüss schatzi" when leaving for the office so the echo would be heard in the whole building 1 minute past the allowed time.

and if all else would fail, I would move.
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