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I'm the filling in a nightmare sandwich!!

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  • I'm the filling in a nightmare sandwich!!

    I live in a tenement flat which is privately owned, well mortgaged. I bought it over ten years ago and not long after the upstairs neighbours moved out and a new couple moved in....well, not long after that it became apparent that this was not love's young dream and screaming matches of varying degrees ensued. At their height these included violence and on one occasion my volunteering to be a witness when the girl had an all too rare moment of sense and agreed to have him charged. Three times I went to the court, and three times she never turned up. At that time (a few years ago now) I discovered that SHE owns the flat in her own right. I'm not sure what the situation is now though as it seems to be only occasionally that I hear her and he now seems to have a "buddy" who is just as charming as he is. Also over the whole period I have lived elsewhere for two years and am unable to even try to sell the flat as the whole building is suffering from terrible dry rot - as it is a communal bill and some people won't pay their share of the repairs the back wall is literally crumbling away. I hope every day that I will come home to a pile of rubble and my troubles will be (sort of) over!!!

    The flat directly below me was for a long time occupied by a single male but he must have sold for buttons just to get out (this was before the rot got as bad as it is now) and it is now being rented out. A few tenants have come and gone, a family with small children, a rather alarmingly large group of young men, and now the current occupants seem to be either a couple or a single guy with lots of mates. In my less charitable moments I am quite prepared to believe they are drug dealers/users...and I don't mean sitting around having a smoke. Since they have moved in the crashing, banging, screaming etc from upstairs is complemented by window rattling, wall buzzing "dance" music from below. Other new developments include frequent piles of sick on the stairs - on one occasion right outside my front door and down the wall, fag ends, and wrappings etc from things like sterile pads or swabs that I would imagine injecting druggies might use and the mysterious disappearance of my door mat (once it had been moved downstairs, this time it has vanished completely). There is no secure entry on the outside door so any passing junkie could come in to shoot up but it does seem rather a coincidence that all this detritis has appeared just recently and one night when I was coming home from a night out there were a couple of young boys staggering around on the stairs looking completely out of it - not just drunk I don't think - who disappeared back into the flat when I asked them if they lived here.

    About a month ago my husband went down to complain about the noise and nobody would answer the door. We phoned the police - our room was literally shaking and buzzing - who did come a while later. A girl answered to them, apologised and turned it down. I suspect though, the original noisemaker had gone out and she had come in. Anyway, that was that. They still play their music incredibly loud and often seem to be having a party - or maybe the fact that they have to shout above the music makes it seem like it. It seems to be quite random - not just at weekends for instance. And they sometimes turn it up and down themselves so it's really hard to decide if and when it's time to go and complain. I don't think they are doing it deliberately to annoy. On Monday, after a particularly sleepless week the week before, the pounding was going on when I went to go to bed so I went down. After my husband's attempt I wasn't expecting much but a guy answered and said he would turn it down, which he must have because it was then at a level that I could get to sleep with. Luckily I am a heavy sleeper!!!

    Last night the pounding was not rattling the windows so I didn't do anything, got to sleep, only to be woken at 1.30 am by the crashing from above. And Dr Hook - just like I was playing it myself. Now, Dr Hook I can stand (I can and do sleep with music on) but the noises that come from above are like nothing I've ever heard before. It's like they are throwing heavy furniture right across the room. Or like they have a ten pin bowling lane up there and are chucking the ball down it. (these are small flats - the latter is not possible, lol, but the former....these are the people who literally flung a divan bed all the way down the stairs at about 4am - I don't know if this was for "fun" or what, but the noise was something else!!!). And yes, they are drunk. So anyway, in the end when they were still at it half an hour later I actually got up and dressed and went upstairs. Not too happily considering this guy's proven history of battering women. As it turned out they have a new door (his usual method of entry is to shout "open the door, you cow" and then proceed to kick the door in) and when I knocked the music went off and a drunken exchange was heard in which it became apparent it was locked from the inside and neither of them could find the key. So I said, through the door, that it was 2am, that I didn't mind the music but could they cut out the crashing and banging. He didn't exaclty apologise but the music didn't go back on and after a few more thumps things seemed to quieten least I slept and didn't wake again until morning.

    I'm now not sure what to do in future....I am certain that neither set of neighbours will stop their noisy habits but I'm also in two minds about trotting up and down the stairs all the time. Particularly upstairs - this guy is drunk and violent and now has an equally unsavoury friend. My husband now works away three weeks out of four and I hate to admit it but I do feel somewhat intimidated sometimes when I'm lying in bed with mayhem above and below...especially when I have to get up in the morning!!!

    This is becoming a looooooooong post so I will leave it at that and hopefully if it raises any questions I can fill in more details. I don't really know what I'm after here - I don't really know what I can "do" about any of this. I suppose I'm hoping for some ideas from people who have been in similar situations or have knowledge of what might lead to a quieter life.

  • #2
    Hi Geesabun,

    I am guessing here that you are new to us, so firstly a big welcome to you. I am in a way sorry that you have had to come and post with us as I know all too well what this means - you are dealing with a NFH. In your case it appears you have several.

    The way I see things is this - you have a two pronged approach here.

    Firstly let me deal with the drugs issue. Do you know who owns the flat below you now ? If you do you need to make contact with them about this and bring to their attention what has been going on they may - believe it or not - be unaware of what is going on. Either way they need to be informed PDQ.

    In the meantime have a trip down to your local police station and ask to speak with an officer regarding drugs and dealing. The police have a big budget now for drugs and they are actively on the look out for new avenues of enquiries. Tell them what has been going on and see what their approach is. Generally with police and their approach to tackling drugs it tends to be favourable.

    You next need to get a book and log every single incident, times dates, type of music, type of noise etc into it. Everything - I mean EVERYTHING. The more you have the better it is for you.

    I feel that you could well be reaching a point where although the noise issue among other things is an annoyance to you and your husband your circumstances have changed in so far that your husband is now working away from home.

    I am second guessing that this for you is now becoming a concern and that I feel you should look to other avenues for this to be resolved.

    The fact is my NFH situation does not revolve so much around noise - so on this issue I have difficulty in commenting, but Beth, Matthew, Misty, Badger and Hollygolightly should touch base with you on this aspect and be able to give you better advice.

    In the meantime I wish you well and I hope that we can all be of some help to you in which ever pathway you decide to take.


    • #3
      Thanks Scooby & April,

      I am indeed brand new to these boards. I have read them before and I think a while back even registered but I may have been cleared out in the spring cleaning of zero posters so I re-registered tonight. After the last two weeks and the fact that my husband is working away most of the time (for the foreseeable future) I feel perhaps the time has come to make more of an attempt to get something done.

      I don't know who owns the flat below. How would I find that out? I would hope at least that something could be done about the state of the stairs - I have no intention of clearing up their sick, but it's either that or trying to walk round it.....totally disgusting.

      I did also consider a trip to the police station - would they be at all helpful with the noise/nuisance factors though? The suspicion of drug taking/dealing is nothing more than that at the moment but their response to the police visit (they must have known it was us who called them) and the response the other night do make me think they don't want to draw police attention to themselves. We did wonder if there would be any sort of retaliation after the police came but nothing ever happened. It is a bit worrying - I have a day job and anyone paying any attention would soon realise our flat is empty for almost ten hours a day....

      I have started numerous books but admit to being rubbish at keeping them. The worst times are when I'm trying to sleep and writing a diary entry isn't appealing at the time...then the next day I forget, then maybe there's a day goes by with not much noise and it falls by the wayside again. But I reailise I need to try much harder in this respect.

      I will keep popping back to see what else comes up.

      thanks again.


      • #4
        As far as the noise factor the Police would not be able to deal with this for you as it is primarily a civil issue and they would direct you towards the path of the Town Hall and the local Environmental Health Officer.

        However, I feel sure that having a small and informal chat about drug taking and possible dealing they would be more than interested in.

        The fact is that if they are using drugs, they have to be buying them from somewhere - yes the Police have bigger fish to fry but todays drug users more often than not end up tomorrows dealers just so that they can fund their habit. You need to speak with someone on the drugs team or an Intelligence Officer, whether you would get to speak with the latter I could not say but you could always make the point of asking. They do take issues like this with drugs very seriously and you should have some success here at least.

        As regards finding out who owns the flat this is a Land Registry issue, however, you could find this information out from your town hall. Are these people having their rent paid by the DSS do you know ? The clue maybe in them not working so they will more than likely be in receipt of benefits.

        The log book issue I'm afraid to say you are going to have to become a bit more proactive - could you keep a small amount of paper and pen by the side of your bed and just scribble something down as a reminder when something happens. I know it's a real chore, but, it will pay off for you in the long run. Things like noise abatement orders I recall have been used and equipment has been confiscated in the past for breaching these noise orders, mostly through diligence of keeping records.


        • #5
          Found it !!

          Geesabun - go to 'Ask for help here' and then look at Nightowl's postings that should give you some idea of the level of advice. This is directly a noise issue so it should help you in the meantime while others respond to your posting.


          • #6
            Hi Geesabun,

            What a nightmare!! I think Scooby has given you some good sound advice. Believe me, I know what you mean about keeping a log. I sometimes think that the stress of logging is almost as bad as the NFH themselves. But it is a must.

            I agree with Scooby, I think the police would be very interested in what you might have to tell them about suspected drug dealing/using. At the same time you could tell them how intimidated you feel, and don't skimp on the details.

            Have you mentioned the sick to your neighbours? Do you know if they or their friends are responsible? If you do, maybe you could post a polite note through their door asking them to clean it up.

            Does your home insurance cover the problem of dry rot? I'm not really up to speed about insurances and responsibilities. But someone must be dealing with the matter. You say its a communal bill but if your home is in danger couldn't your insurance deal with the problem and sue the other responsible parties for the money?

            Here's wishing you luck, hopefully the police, council and EHO will be able to help.

            "Almost anything you do will seem insignificant, but it is very important that you do it. You must be the change that you wish to see in the world." Gandhi


            • #7
              Hi geesabun,

              Just a suggestion about keeping a log of events. Why not get yourself a dictaphone. That way if you are woken up you could keep it by your bedside just pick it up and leave a message for yourself.

              Good luck


              • #8
                Hi geesabun (love the name!) and welcome to the Board - but sorry you have had to come here.

                It really infuriates me that people have to put up with nuisance neighbours, as we all have here. Noise nuisance is horrible to suffer; that will it/won't feeling of when noise is going to happen and not knowing when it is going to stop.

                There are a number of issues which strike me in your post.

                - Noise:

                As others have said, you must be vigilant in keeping a log of all instances of noise nuisance (not just music, but everything). I printed out some record sheets (tables) and included:

                Date/ Time noise started/ stopped/ What noise (i.e. music - name it if you can; shouting - what was said; other sounds - for you this would be the Bowling alley sounds etc.)/ What impact it had on you (i.e couldn't sleep/ watch TV/ hold a conversation - a pat phrase that I used was "breach of quiet enjoyment", we are all entitled to have the "quiet enjoyment" of our homes - this is legal terminology which the Environmental Health Department (EH) and Solicitors will be aware of)/ What you did about it (i.e. wrote to neighbour/ banged on wall etc.)

                Try if possible to remember back so that you can put some backdated entries down.

                Get in touch with your local EH and report the noise nuisance - they should send you some paperwork out. Let them know you have already been recording and you want them to take action now. They will either write to your nfh (s) - as you seem to be having problems above and below - or visit. They will give an initial warning. If it continues, they may install noise recorders in your flat or give you a 24 contact number for you to ring them so that they can witness the noise first hand. After that, if it is carrying on. the next step is for the EH to serve an Abatement Notice. If that is breached, to Court the nfh(s) and you will go. Then it's a criminal matter and they can be fined and/or imprisoned/ and have their "noise-creators" (usually HiFi) destroyed.

                Get recording these incidents!

                Some other tips:

                ~ Have you written to your nfh about the noise? It may be worth doing, tell them what impact the noise is having on you.

                ~ You could consider Mediation.

                ~ Ear plugs (I know you shouldn't have to use them) can sometimes help.

                ~ Never, ever put yourself at risk. Don't go round on your own in the middle of the night.

                Let us know how you get on with that.


                - Check out your insurance.

                - When you bought your flat, was the problem with rot ever picked up at survey stage?

                - Contact your local authority, ask if they have a "Private Sector Housing Unit" which deals with repairs. Ours has. They should inspect and may also be able to provide you with further advice and assistance in terms of the communal responsibilities/ landlord of the leasehold block (or have a good check through your deeds).

                Let us know how you get on with that!


                Absolutely, contact the Police. Some areas are really cracking (sorry, no pun intended!) down on drugs, some have special "Dob in a Dealer" schemes running.

                This has been very long and I apologise for that! Above all, try to stay positive. None of this is your fault. Some people are just so inconsiderate and think the world revolves around them and them alone, they are unlikely to ever change their behaviour. However, in my case, they did - so, stay safe and stay positive - do "nice" things to cheer yourself up, make sure that your partner is aware of everything (talking through the problems does help).

                Come back often for more advice and to let us know how you are. Good luck.


                • #9
                  Hello! Thank you for the detailed replies - Just reading that bit about the "noise creators" being destroyed although my first thought was I didn't know I could have my neighbours put down, lol!

                  I have re-started my book - I think I will keep two, one for upstairs and one for downstairs. It's the random and intermittent nature of the various noises that makes it unappealing I think but I do realise it absolutely has to be done so I have resolved to just get on with it. I was already trying to work out a "grading" system - today I noted the volume number on my own radio at which their noise was interfering with my ability to listen.

                  As for the rot, I live in Scotland where we have Factors who are supposed to deal with communal repairs and I also have my buildings insurance arranged through them. When the problem was first discovered (years after I bought) they did claim on insurance but only for part of the amount needed. The rest was divided up and billed out to the owners, some of whom haven't paid. The normal occupants on the other side upstairs and myself write to them every so often but they just say they are pursuing the non-payers. I also alerted the council to the problem a few years ago (!! Just having to think about this is making me realise just how long all of this has been going on) and they issued a Notice saying if we didn't get the work done by a certain date then they would and we would be billed for it. I was happy with that, and duly wrote to them after the date had passed to get them to invoke their order. They said they didn't have any budget for this and wouldn't be doing anything about it!! Something like that anyway!

                  Now then! As I type there is somthing going I'd better go an write it down! I will try to put the advice offered so far into motion. Thanks for the help.


                  • #10
                    Hi geesabun!

                    Sorry, I seem to have come in late on your post! Just to say a big, warm welcome to the Forum, you've had lots of great replies/advice, so can't really add much at the mo.

                    Hope you find the board handy


                    • #11
                      I have to admit, when I was writing my first reply I was trying to think what the word was for ..God...I still don't know what the word is. Is there a word for things (appliances!) that make noise? I bet it's something really simple!

                      I think from now on though, I shall just call them noise creators - it will cover everything and everyone who ...dadaa... creates noise!

                      Keep on recording geesabun. And, definitely get back in touch with the Council regarding the dry rot.

                      Let us know how you get on. Hope your evening is peaceful and that whatever was kicking off ends very quickly.


                      • #12
                        Me Again, It was only a couple of bangs. Seems to have shut up now.

                        Quick Q - where is the "ask for help here" referred to by Scooby above?


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by geesabun@Apr 19 2003, 10:05 PM

                          Quick Q - where is the "ask for help here" referred to by Scooby above?

                          It's the next forum section one down from 'NFH: Whats Your Story'.

                          Or go here directly.

                          Hope it stays quiet for you.


                          • #14
                            Me again, again!! Thanks Matthew, and everyone else - this is proving helpful already.

                            Found the "ask" thingie - will search on those posts. While I sit here, I can hear odd noises - thing is, we have our living space at the back of the house and the flats above and below have theirs at the front. A lot of the time we are aware of stuff, but unless we actually make the effort, e.g. go through to the other room, turn down our own radio/music, it doesn't really annoy us. I really don't want to have to live my life around their noise and have to interrupt what I'm doing to go and make notes - what should I do for those types of incidents? Would a quick date/time/ noises off entry be okay just to note the fact that there was noticeable noise to give a better idea of frequency of disturbances?


                            • #15

                              If you have a computer, I would suggest you draw up a table (with the headings as previously described) and print off loads.

                              Leave them around the place and then just scribble notes in the rows and along the columns. Trust me, it won't take you long to do it.

                              At first, you'll really notice recording things, but then it just becomes a habit and didn't really annoy me. I ended up faxing through loads of sheets to the EH dept.

                              Have a quiet night.