The Noisy Neighbor

Sometimes a tenant is bad enough to drive away your OTHER tenants.  Such is the case with Red who runs the blog, Girl with the Red Balloon.  She and her husband just found another apartment to move into after their fellow tenant’s love for noise and passive aggressive attitude drove them away from an apartment that they love.  Let this be a rule landlords: don’t let a bad tenant drive a good tenant away.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably heard about our problems with our neighbor. Last Friday, our problems took a funny turn.

It seems our neighbor is “one of those introverts.” To that, Mr. Red said, “Yeah, I know the type. He sits in his bedroom with the music blaring because he’s trying to put as much space between himself and the actual world as possible.” Sounds like he would know… But let me back up to the beginning.

Our downstairs neighbor has been playing his music really loudly for about two months now. We can’t hear the music, but we do hear the bass thumping like it’s in our own bedroom. That’s the other unfortunate part – we can hear it the loudest in our bedroom.

Not that I’d like to hear it anywhere in our apartment, but it’s impossible to study or sleep in the bedroom while he’s playing music.

First, I called the landlord and left a message. The Introvert plays his music loudly all day long. He starts at about 11 a.m. (when he’s home), and it lasts well into the wee hours of the morning, sometimes as late as 2 a.m.

A few days later, Mr. Red went downstairs to talk to him because he was playing his music loudly again. He knocked on the door. Mr. Red saw him come to the window, but he walked away without opening the door.

We never heard back from the landlord after that first call. We assumed the problem was handled because there was about a week or so when we didn’t hear anything.

That week must have been his Christmas vacation because he was back full-force this week. I called the landlord on Monday night and left another voice mail message.

Mr. Red went down to try to talk to him last night. Still refused to answer the door.

I called the landlord today. (Mr. Red thinks it’s mega-unprofessional that the landlord never followed up on this issue with us.) She said The Introvert came to meet with her today.

“Do you have a dog?” she asked me.

“No… I have cats. Why?”

“Because he claims that he turned his music up because he heard a dog running around.”

“Well, I doubt what he was hearing was a 10 pound and 7 pound cat.” Yes, my cats get into running fits occasionally, but we’re there to break them up. (They usually end in the bedroom with one cat pinned under the other.) And they never last longer than a few minutes.

“That’s what I told him. I told him that he could be hearing noise from the apartment beside him or even the apartment beside you. Then he asked me how I knew that the music was coming from his apartment.”

While relaying this story to Mr. Red, he stopped me to say, “I knew because I was standing outside his fucking door.”

The landlord continued, “I told him, ‘I know you want to experience the music, but it’s usually the bass that tenants hear. Maybe you could just turn the bass off.’ He seems like a real introvert. He’s a college student, he’s young. He might have lived a sheltered life.”

“Then it doesn’t sound like we should make the effort to go talk to him anymore, if he’s not even going to answer the door.”

“Well, hopefully, this is taken care of now.”

I’ve never met someone who would rather go to the landlord than hash out a disagreement between neighbors. In college, we would rather argue it out than get the resident adviser involved. It’s kind of like running to Mom and Dad instead of just talking things out among your siblings.

We’ve had similar noise problems with neighbors before. It’s going to happen because the walls are thin. That’s apartment living.

But we have always been able to go to the neighbor, talk it out and resolve it between ourselves. Maybe The Introvert was just scared by Mr. Red’s scowl.

Honestly, it didn’t sound like the landlord was too concerned about the noise.

In a different apartment we visited while apartment hunting, the landlord told us they have a strict noise policy. Residents are allowed two noise complaints, and the third one gets you evicted. To me, that is great. Too bad that’s the apartment building a couple of college kids were abducted from in 2007. Won’t be moving in there.

Our only recourse at this point is calling the police if it happens again. I hate the idea of doing that because I know police have more important things to do, but if the landlord isn’t going to instill a sense of urgency in this tenant, I don’t know what else to do.

Someone on Twitter mentioned to me that she had roommates who played instruments loudly, mostly during the day. For us, even during the day is unacceptable. If you live in an apartment complex, you should be respectful of your neighbors who may live very different lives from you. For all this kid knows, we could have night jobs and trying to sleep during the day.

[Clarification: The “someone on Twitter” I referred to was eemusings, and she clarified in the comments that she and her roommates actually lived in a house. Totally different situation than apartments!]

I’m not saying we should all live like mice in apartment buildings. But there’s an appropriate volume to keep your music/instruments at. If you want to blare music, you should rent out a separate space for that. Or put on your damn headphones like Mr. Red does when he plays the keyboard.

Unfortunately, Mr. Red is ready to go off. He wanted to “meet the kid at his car and teach him how to be a man.” He’s ready to look at new places to live if the noise keeps up.

I do agree with him that it’s unbearable. I can’t focus on studying with bass thumping through the floorboards.

But I tend to be a little more optimistic. I’m hopeful that the discussions with the landlord will have some impact. And if not, I hope a visit from the police will.

The short of it is this: If he keeps it up, we will be calling the police. If he continues after that, we will be moving out. Fortunately, our lease is up at the end of January, and I haven’t signed the new lease yet. (See? Procrastination can sometimes work to your benefit!)

I hate the idea of moving out of this apartment. Apart from the dorms – which don’t really count because you know it’s temporary when you move in – this place has been my only home away from home. It’s slowly turned into our home, and I hate apartment hunting with a passion.

Plus, any other apartment we move into is likely to be plagued by the same problems, especially if mostly students live there. Or, heaven forbid, it could be worse!

And Mr. Red is so picky. For example, we pulled into an apartment complex once, really nice buildings. Mr. Red refused to even consider the place because there were a couple junk cars in the parking lot. “People who don’t take care of their vehicles make bad neighbors,” he said.

The only money we have available that would make a move possible is the retirement money Mr. Red has already withdrawn from his account. But I like that we have that cushion in case of a real emergency.

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