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Mama_Cakes's avatar

How would you deal with situation: sharing a home – with 4 apartments/tenants inside. Details inside?

Asked by Mama_Cakes (9289 points ) November 5th, 2011

I live in a 150 year old, large home. There are 4 separate apartments inside the house. Two upstairs, two downstairs. The house is old and you often hear noises coming from the other tenant’s apartments. My neighbor across the hall, sadly, I can hear when he is getting amorous with his g/f in the wee hours of the night. Solution; I sleep with fan on. The “noises” don’t wake me up anymore.
I have been here for a year and things have been cool. The fellow who lived directly below me, moved out a month ago. We got along great. He had a rather loud entertainment system set up, and I could hear him watching movies at night. He shut ’er down by 11 at night, though, I was cool with that.
After he moved out, the new tenant moved in. I would say that she is in her late 40’s. I haven’t been home all that much, so, I didn’t get a chance to introduce myself. Well, last night, I lugged a few bags of groceries up the stairs to my apartment and a few seconds after closing the door, there was a knock. It was the new tenant. She introduced herself, asked if I could help her with the laundry room door (it sticks sometimes), and then said to me “Can I ask you something? I see you have hardwood floors up here. Could you do me a favor and walk softly? I can hear you downstairs.” Now, I certainly don’t clomp around on the balls of my feet. I am 5’2” and 115lbs. The house is old. You hear everything. I can even hear my neighbor across the hall walk around in his bedroom.
What should I do?

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29 Answers

zensky's avatar

Hey babes – noce to see you around again. GQ!

Reminds me of the great Paul Simon song (little known, methinks) One Man’s ceiling is another man’s floor. Youtube it – it’s a good tune.

I don’t know what you can do – it’s a delicate situation.

I would sleep with a tranquilizer, earplugs and good soft stereo headphones with a one hour timer.

Bon chance.

janbb's avatar

I would try to accommodate her within reason Sound is annoying. Maybe there are soft slippers you could wear that would ease the sound somewhat.

bkcunningham's avatar

How did you answer her, @Mama_Cakes? I would have been floored. Ordinary noises just come with the territory of living in a downstairs apartment.

john65pennington's avatar

If you new neighbor thinks she has walking noise problem with you, let me do some walking in your apartment for about a week. I am 6 ft 5 in tall and weigh 240 pounds.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

@bkcunningham I told her that I would do my best (in a polite sort of way). Kinda threw me off guard. I didn’t even get a chance to say “hi, I’m ___, nice to meet you.”

Bagardbilla's avatar

I’d just say, “I’ll do my best, and be more cognizant of it”, however, also let her know of your experiences and inform her, perhaps in a jovial manner that that’s part of ‘old apartment living’. And then invite her for a glass of wine. Good luck

iamthemob's avatar

I believe that in NYC the standard lease requires that one have rugs over something like 80% of the floor in an apartment to help reduce the kind of problem you’re describing. If she pointed out your hardwood floors specifically, it may be that she’s coming from buildings that, unlike yours, fall under similar types of regulations, or from an area where it was standard.

You’d be amazed actually how much the problem IS solved by a few well-appointed rugs and, as @janbb suggested, slippers or not wearing shoes.

If you happen to be walking on the wood floors in shoes without soft soles, in an old house, it might not matter whether you’re stomping… it might just always sound that way regardless.

What’s problematic, really, is that this neighbor ended up airing a potentially legitimate complaint at a bad time in a poor manner. I find it’s best in those cases to respond to the situation as if it had been the right time and manner, and not let it sour anything.

How she approaches the next minor conflict may be where you have to address how to, you know…act.

CWOTUS's avatar

I would suggest wearing slippers. My brother lived with me for about a year recently, and he always wore shoes inside the house. He may have thought that he was walking softly, and maybe for a big guy like him he was, but every step he took sounded like a “clomp” to me. I wear slippers (in cool weather) for comfort and because it really does keep the noise down; in the nice weather I’m barefoot. The sounds of shoes will really amplify through hardwood flooring. (That may be one of the reasons your former downstairs neighbor kept his sound on so loud.)

Mama_Cakes's avatar

@CWOTUS never wear shoes in the apartment (shoes come off before I enter). I will get a pair of slippers. Also, I will be getting an area rug for Christmas that will cover part of my living room floor. :)

HungryGuy's avatar

In an old house like that, your landlord really should install carpeting in any apartment over another. If that ain’t gonna happen, consider buying area rugs with thick padding.

marinelife's avatar

Tell her that you are walking softly and it is an apartment. You can hear people walking. It is, even worse, a converted old house without proper insulation between units.

Coloma's avatar

I’d be respectful of her wishes along with an understanding of the physics of an ancient building.

Yes, get a plush area rug…that would help a lot.

I have a 9×11 wool persian rug with a 2 inch pile…it is oh so silent!

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Tell her yes, of course you’ll be more mindful and then hope she comes to realize over a few month’s time that’s how old houses with upstairs tenants sound like. It’s better than starting off telling her you already walk as quietly as possible. I’m sure she’s going to start hearing everything the other tenants do as well and it’ll be up to her to accept as the rest of you have or to move to another place. She did move into an old house knowing it wasn’t insulated the way a one story modern one is and that four different tenants will make ordinary day-to-day living noises at different hours than one tenant or one family under the same roof would.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Normal living noises are expected between the hours of 7am to 9pm in most leased residences. I would not do anything different apart from being mindful that what I was doing was not above normal.

She’ll need to get accustomed to rental living.

Judi's avatar

could you get a few area rugs?
Oops. @iamthemob beat me to it.

shrubbery's avatar

Just let her know that you do already take your shoes off but that you are getting a rug (I would have suggested getting one if you weren’t already), but like others have said just remind her that it is an old house and let her know that everyone can hear everyone else. If you wanted you could maybe hint at your schedule (I’m usually in bed by such and such time) just so she knows and so if she is sitting in her apartment getting frustrated by the noises she can think “only half an hour more” or something. Obviously you have no obligation to let her know your personal schedule but it might be polite and she might be so grateful that you’ll become good friends. Or… something. But yeah definitely, next time you see her on the stairs or whatever, tell her that the rug is coming so she at least knows you’ve listened to her.

When I moved into a sharehouse with 3 other people I just laid it all out, said I’m a night owl but I’m doing a really difficult degree and if I’m studying then I’ll just come and ask you to turn the volume down on whatever you are doing or to close the door so please don’t get offended if I’m curt because I’m just stressed etc. and then they laid out their bits and pieces and apart from one of our first guys who was pretty much drunk the whole time it’s working out well now.

flutherother's avatar

House slippers and rugs should do the trick. If the hardwood floor is creaking you could try sprinkling some talcum powder into the joints and let it work its way in.

CWOTUS's avatar

My other response, if the “technical fix” of slippers and rugs don’t work adequately, is to become friendly with the neighbor so that she doesn’t view your presence overhead as a nuisance but as a welcome sound to mean “all’s well at home”.

The way I feel about my sump pump running, for example. It’s noisy, but by god it’s a welcome noise.

bkcunningham's avatar

I’m not a vengeful person or a troublemaker. I just can’t see changing my lifestyle and tiptoeing around for a new tenant below me who asks if I can walk softer. That seems like BS to me. Sorry. You know what you are getting when you live below someone. I’m sorry. I could understand if you were partying or playing your music too loud or something that is not very neighborly, but walking to loudly. Give me a break.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@bkcunningham I agree.

I’m a property manager. I’d never expect anyone to worry about walking, or their toilet/shower noise. That is over the top.

I lived in apartments/rentals for 20+ yrs on & off. Walking noise was the least of my noise concerns.

Judi's avatar

@SpatzieLover , unless they had little kids. I don’t know how a 20 lb child can walk so heavy!

AshlynM's avatar

Tenants have to expect SOME noise from others. It’s just a part of apartment life. Most apartment walls are paper thin and do very little to block out noise.

There are things you can do yourself to soundproof your home. Some things you may have to ask your landlord’s permission to do. You could also inquire about covering the hardwood floors with carpet, but that could be costly. Maybe you could only do the main rooms you’re in most.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@Judi I agree. I think they all must jump when they walk :)

Mama_Cakes's avatar

This lady is cracking me up. The tenant across the hall had a full mailbox. She brought in his mail and put it at front of his door. Isn’t it against the law to touch someone else’s mail? She has a lot of nerve.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Hmm….Yep, she sounds like she’s gonna be trouble.

Just let the neighbor with the mail know it wasn’t you, so no trouble brews there.

CWOTUS's avatar

It’s not illegal “to touch” someone else’s mail; it’s against the law to interfere with it. In fact, if the tenant has a full mailbox, she may have been doing a bona fide good deed by preventing it from being exposed to rain or snow, or advertising the fact that the tenant isn’t at home, and hasn’t been for some time.

Jude's avatar

Jude here (also Mama Cakes). The tenant below me had a huge blowout with her boyfriend. So loud that I could here every word that they were saying. It went on for an hour and I finally decided to leave. If they keep it up, I’ll call the landlord.

Sad part was, I heard here sobbing. I stayed for awhile, just in case I needed to call the police.

SpatzieLover's avatar

:( So sad to hear that @Jude.

Shippy's avatar

we have that in our apartment building and it’s a nightmare, I can hear every footfall. Please dont take it personally she asked in the best way she could. We normally shove a note under the new tenants door as they are unaware of the noise their feet make.

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