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Now I'm a neighbour from hell!

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  • Now I'm a neighbour from hell!

    I have just realised how easy it is to become a NFH without any effort at all! Also gives some food for thought ..

    I have just returned from a weekend in London staying with a friend. My friend has just bought a sweet little flat in one of those big Victorian terrace houses. There are 8 flats in the house and she has a split level job with a living room and bedroom on one floor and the kitchen and roof terrace on top of that. We went out on Saturday night and had a great old time. Came back at about 3.00 am and went upstairs into her kitchen for a coffee and a chat. We just sat and chatted normally for about an hour and then went to bed.

    Anyway, found out this morning that the neighbours below her (this is below her living room which is below where we were sitting in the kitchen) have complained to my friend about the "excessive chatter" they could hear in the night! It seems that they had a window open below and could hear us talking two floors above. How crazy! It's a bit like moaning about someone talking in the street. This is central London we are talking about by the way and it isn't exactly the quietest of places on a Saturday night anyway.

    This is a potentially bad problem for my friend though. The flat has cost an arm and a leg and the last thing she wants is the feeling that she has to creep about and whisper. Both of us are very aware of noise and the effects on other people but how do we deal with people that don't even like you talking?? Apparently, they couldn't hear what we were saying but it was the murmering that was annoying them. They have effectively asked my friend to keep the noise down. The only way this can be done it to literally whisper. They have said that they shouldn't be able to hear any noise from my friend's flat at all and have asked her to turn her television down on two occasions (it's only a little portable) and have advised she shouldn't really have it on after 11 anyway since the flats are all so close together. They appear very sensitive and very quick to jump at noise.

    What can she do? She doesn't want to upset people but being told talking at 3.00 am (and I mean talking - not drunk screaming or running about) is unacceptable leaves no room for manoevure (i.e. she's already worrying about having friends to stay or even playing a bit of music). Made me realise just how sensitive a society we live in sometimes. I felt like asking the guy if he would like a real NFH like one of ours?

  • #2
    you sinner!!!

    your friend needs to go and have a chat with her neighbours and build relationships before they break down

    she needs to ask them what they think is acceptable times noise etc and slip in to the conversation that she realises how close the flats are together and that she does not want to become a bad neighbour.

    for example, I know someone who plays a brass band instrument, very common in yorkshire!

    and he has an agreement with his neighbour that he does not practice after 7pm, he also practices in the middle of the house where he is not next to any party walls.

    because of this agreement he has good relationships with the neighbours, and yes he lives in a mid terraced house!

    I think at this stage communication is vital and it is always nice to get on with the people you live near, they will see this (hopefully) as an olive brach and compromise.

    wish your friend good luck


    • #3
      That is why I wouldn't live in a flat.

      I can see your point though Jeannie. Noise can really affect people, it grates on you. I suppose we all have different tolerance levels. The real issue with noise is the problem of control: if you have your CD player blaring away, happily listening through earphones, you can control the volume; when someone else has the control, you don't know when it's going to stop, decrease or increase in volume etc.

      If people are just talking normally (whatever time of day or night) then there shouldn't be any reason for complaint, some other factors to take into account with your recent scenario are:

      - the neighbour's window - if they had it open, they are likely to hear things (was your friends window open too?)

      - the previous occupiers of your friends new flat - perhaps the neighbours downstairs have lived through a nightmare noisy nfh situation and want to nip any future noise (whether reasonable or not) in the bud?

      I have noise that I have no control over and I am really sensitive and aware of it (yes, probably overly so now). When we're up late I am conscious of what noise I make and am really quiet, we do sometimes even talk in whispers - it gets you like that.

      The problem with our home is that the walls are very thin - this may also be a problem in your friends new flat. This isn't her fault, it's the fault of the developer.

      I would advise your friend to come and join the Forum, have a "friendly" chat with the downstairs neighbours now, this may be something that can be resolved quite quickly and easily.


      • #4
        She has tried Beth. When they mentioned the telly she spent an evening playing with the volume and running up and down the stairs to work out an acceptable level with them. The level is acceptable until they go to bed and then they can hear it but, believe me, we are talking lower than average levels. Any lower and the outside traffic noise starts to interfere. She has now stopped thinking about getting a big tv since Nicam wouldn't help the situation. My friend has tried to make friends by saying hello if she sees them in the hallway but they don't seem to be very inviting people and just scurry into their flat.

        My friend is such a sweet person that she would rather sit in dead silence than cause any aggravation to her neighbours. I just feel she may be being bullied a little bit since she has acquiessed so much on the tv already. The odd thing is that her immediate neighbour next door can't hear hardly a thing?!


        • #5
          It sounds like the neighbours are overly sensitive and not willing to meet halfway, which is a real shame for your friend. Like you say, she has tried to resolve the problem. How upsetting for her, it must be a horrible situation for her to be in.

          Strange about the neighbour to the side, perhaps there's better soundproofing to the sides than there is between floors.

          I presume her telly is on a stand of some sort and not directly on the floor? I can't really see how there is more noise when they go to bed unless everything is so, so quiet that they can hear a faint murmur. If your friend and they have agreed a mutual sound level that's acceptable, then I can't see what more can be done - unless your friend takes the full on drastic response of moving her telly to the kitchen. But that's probably taking it too far.

          The neighbours have to accept that there will always be some "normal" domestic noise: telly, vacuum, extractor fans, walking in your home, closing doors/ drawers, switching plugs and lights on and off etc. Providing that your friend is considerate, that's all she can do.


          • #6
            NFH are not just the people making the noise. They can also be supersensitive people who complain about reasonable levels of noise. As you say, Jeannie, you were talking in a normal conversational tone, two floors above the complainers. They probably could only hear you because they had their window open. You also mention the traffic noise and being in Central London so I can't see what their problem is. Maybe they were miffed because they couldn't eavesdrop properly because you were actually fairly quiet

            Your friend seems to have gone over the limit of reasonableness to accommodate their demands. So no, I don't think you or your friend have become NFH. I'm just wondering if her neighbours are also as considerate? You know sometimes if you do your best to be a good neighbour the other party may take this as a sign of weakness and up their demands. I think people like that enjoy the feeling of power they have over people. I wonder if they were laughing behind your friend's back as she ran up and down stairs asking if the tv volume level was acceptable?

            We all have to put up with ordinary everyday levels of noise and most of us accept them as the price we pay for living in such close proximity to other people. It's when those noises become really loud and invasive and after normal sleeping hours that they become a problem. I don't think this is the case with you and your friend. I get the feeling she is living above a couple of puritanical bullies.

            From what you have said I don't think her neighbours have a case against her even if they do decide to call in the EHO. I realise it must be very awkward for your friend having complaints made against her but they seem to me to be very unreasonable complaints. I think she should stop worrying about them, she's done her best, the noise is not excessive and if they have supersensitive hearing, that's their problem, let them deal with it.

            "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
              Hiya Jeannie

              Its interesting to hear the other side of NFH problems, ie. becoming one, and possibly even because of over-sensitivity! I sometimes think that's what happened in my case, maybe losing my job and endless hours at home made me hear every tweet and peep about.

              Your friend sounds very reasonable and accommodating, shame these folk are making her life a misery, how old are they? Sounds to me like they may be older, perhaps, or maybe even just jealous of your friend's frantic social life!!


              • #8

                My friend really is sweet and we were actually talking yesterday about how non-controntational she is which is why she tends to get put upon at work and stuff. This has thrown her somewhat as she knows she hasn't got the confidence to argue her case in front of two blokes. The couple below are two thirty-something gay guys (we've assumed they're gay as it's a tiny studio flat). I would be minded to just carry on as normal because what else can you do? This couple are just way, way over-sensitive and I think they're going to have to get used to the fact that they can hear my friend moving about. It is, after all, just a converted house, not a purpose built block. What they are hearing isn't just someone upstairs but, effectively, what we hear if someone's moving about in the upstairs bedroom. I think I would have got narked already by someone telling me when I should and shouldn't watch telly. There's nothing worse than being aware of what you're doing all the time in case you're making a noise, and knowing that someone is listening out ready to jump. I don't think I could stand it.

                She has told me that the couple have called her down for a "meeting" about the noise later (this will be the fourth time they've asked to see her in 3 weeks) so we shall see what they expect my friend to do.


                • #9
                  Jeannie, I can only echo Badger's comments, your friend should definitely try to take someone with her when she goes to this "Meeting".

                  She needs to be strong and to meet them with a clear idea of what she wants to say. It will help her to write down in advance what she wants to get across, otherwise when she leaves, she may regret having forgotten something she wanted to say.

                  They need to show her some courtesy and respect. She is trying to limit the noise from her property, but she can't do more than that. She needs to ask them what it is they want her to do, i.e. live without her TV, is that what they want?

                  Does she hear any noise at all from them?


                  • #10
                    Just saw red then when I read your friend had been "called down for a meeting". Who the heck do these two think they are? How dare they?

                    What a pair of bullies!!! They are obviously taking great delight in intimidating your friend and having her dance to their tune! Ooh, I'd like to give them a piece of my mind!! I've never been one for confrontation but for these two I'd make an exception!

                    I can only agree totally with Badger and Holly. You friend should not feel she HAS to answer a summons from two selfish bullies, but if she wants to go, tell her to write down what she feels, just as Holly advises. Neighbourlyness is a two way street and I think she has gone well beyond what a good neighbour should be. Now it's their turn to compromise!

                    Oh, I'm going now, before I say something I might regret. I wish your friend luck and tell her she does not have to kowtow to them.

                    "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


                    • #11
                      Yes to me they sound like bullies, 2 men and one female yep they are downright bullies that need sticking up to.


                      • #12
                        Definitely bullies, I'd say. Furthermore, it sounds like they're taking advantage of your friend's good nature. They're living in the wrong place if they can't bear the sound of anyone else living their own, reasonably social and considerate, lives.

                        Give in to them over the tv and before long they'll be dictating what time is 'lights out'.

                        (Just edited out a sweeping and unnecessary generalisation). If things escalate my betting is they'll portray themselves as the victims of intolerance.


                        • #13
                          My friend had the meeting. Well, tried to. She went down at 6.30 and they were just sitting down to dinner so asked her to come back later (after Coronation Street!). Friend got really frustrated by this and went back to her flat. One of the guys came up just after 9 and just stood in the doorway reeling off all the noises he heard during the night - including hearing the toilet flushing repeatedly (for God's sake), someone crashing plates together (we washed up) and giggling (so sue us for having a sense of humour). Also rather indignantly suggested that my friend should get a blind for her bathroom window since he can see in and he doesn't want to. He would have to crane out of the window and make a pointed effort of looking round a corner to do that! Sounds like a total perv to me. He also said that he had had a problem with the last owner when they had put decking on the roof terrace and he was concerned that it would catch fire and was my friend prepared to take out the extra insurance in case his property was fire damaged. How crazy is that? No idea how a fire is about to suddenly start.

                          My friend said that she wasn't a noisy person, worked late most days and didn't want any trouble but the guy just didn't seem to want to leave it. In the end my friend got a bit exasperated and asked him whether he wanted a sworn Affidavit not to make any noise/watch tv/have friends over etc. and that she wasn't being a pest, he was, and that he should just leave her alone. The other boyfriend had turned up at this point and was hanging about in the hallway.

                          They finally left after my friend finally promised that she wouldn't cause any more noise and would keep her windows mostly shut to avoid giggles escaping. However, she is now worried as she has NTL coming out next week to sort out her cable/phone which will mean some banging about.

                          She phoned me in a bit of a state about it and, like Homer, Misty et al have said, we've come to the conclusion they are a pair of bullies determined on putting her in line and keeping her there. From the conversation about the previous occupant and the decking, it seems like the age old problem of past wars etc that they just assume will continue over. Friend is going to adopt the course of just living normally which shouldn't be a problem since it's not like she's stopping wild parties or endless thumping music. She's not going to close her windows when friends are round since she just doesn't think that's fair with summer coming on and, if the other two continue to demand meetings, one of us will go down with her. Hope it's not me as I already have zero patience for these two bullies. She's also going to try and get to know the other people in the house so, hopefully, she will have some allies in situ. Hope she manages it as she is just such a quiet, shy person that finds stuff like that difficult.

                          Have directed her to this site so she can see what you guys think (always a great help)

                          Yeah, demanding "meetings"! I would have suggested a face and a fist but that would NOT have helped


                          • #14
                            A thought just occurred to me: (it happens from time to time!)

                            Do these guys want your flat? They complained to the last neighbour, they complain to you, about seemingly ridiculous things? Did you say you bought the flat? Can you remember if you were in a bid war for it?

                            Sorry, gulp always see the worst most insidious in folk now


                            • #15

                              No, there was no bidding war and, so far as we know, though that would explain things. We had thought there may be a bit of jealousy since my friend's flat is a proper flat with a roof terrace whereas the bullies are in a tiny studio. The one thing we don't know at the moment is whether the bullies own their flat or whether they're renting. If they're renting, that would be excellent as, if the problem gets worse, she could go to their Landlord. No idea how to find out though.