This is a question to the blog clinic from Michela who is a tenant.
Me and my partner are having problems with the couple that live below us. They keep on complaining to our landlord that they can hear us walking around.
They have knocked on our door multiple times and also complained to our landlord through many calls and text messages. They are making out that we are stomping around the flat. On one occasion I had 2 friends round for dinner and they complained that we had a party.
The problem that we have is that we rent our flat and they own theres. The landlord is on our side and believes we are not the problem however we would really like to advice on what to do in this situation because we feel really uncomfortable in our own home.
It sounds to me as if the flats have poor sound insulation although it could also be that your neighbours are extra sensitive.
I would be very surprised indeed if your noise levels were illegal – the noise from a property has to be terrific to justify (for example) prosecution by the authorities. For example, see this post.
You could go some way towards them – as I am sure you don’t really want them hearing everything you do.
For example, if you don’t already do this, take off your shoes when at home and either walk around in bare feet or wear slippers (this is probably better for your feet anyway and a lot more comfortable – I never wear shoes indoors).
If the property has wooden floors you could also ask your landlord to provide carpets or maybe a large rug to put on top of a thin carpet.
However what is probably needed is some proper sound insulation. I doubt your landlord will be willing to provide this and it is not something you are entitled to do yourself (even if you wanted to) as no doubt your tenancy agreement will prohibit carrying out any alterations.
There is though nothing to stop your neighbours (who own their flat) from installing sound insulation perhaps on their ceiling. I expect they don’t want to pay for it though.
The first letter
The best thing to do is to write to your neighbours about the this. Point out to them that you are not doing anything wrong and the noise they are complaining about is just ordinary living. If they can hear this clearly then the problem is almost certainly down to poor sound insulation in the property.
Tell them (if this is the case) that you have stopped wearing shoes indoors and that you have added an extra carpet. However, go on to explain that as you just rent your flat there is nothing more you can do – for example installing sound insulation is not something you are allowed to do under the terms of your tenancy agreement.
However, as they own their flat, there is nothing to stop them, if they are bothered by the noise, from installing sound insulation inside their flat.
Another option would be to suggest that they contact your landlord about installing sound insulation – but as your landlord almost certainly won’t want to pay for this, it may be best not to annoy him by doing this.
As well as writing the letter, also keep a diary about the complaints that they make and record what you were doing at the time. So if necessary you will be able to prove later that their complaints are unjustified.
A follow-up letter
If, after you have written to your neighbours, they continue to keep complaining to you, you could then write another letter saying that you have explained the situation and so far as you are aware you are doing nothing wrong – the noise they are complaining about is normal living.
If they are annoyed about it they should instal sound-proofing in their flat.
Go on to say that you consider their complaints to be harassment and if they continue to bother you in this way you will be reporting them to the police.
A letter like this will probably destroy any prospect of good feeling between you so try to deal with things amicably if you can, before writing it.