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    • Jimmy_Boy
    • By Jimmy_Boy 11th Feb 18, 11:21 AM
    • 85Posts
    • 7Thanks
    Noisy Neighbour - Not sure of next steps
    • #1
    • 11th Feb 18, 11:21 AM
    Noisy Neighbour - Not sure of next steps 11th Feb 18 at 11:21 AM

    Im not sure if this is the right section of MSE to post this, or even the correct forum. If any suggestions of a more appropriate forum then I'm happy to post there instead.

    TL : DR - Issue with my upstairs neighbours spanning 3+ years. My main issue is impact noise (heavy walking) throughout the night. I have exhausted all options with the council to resolve the issue, and now don't know what to do.

    This is a long story that has spanned approximately 3+ years now, so i'll try to condense it as much as possible highlighting the key points.

    I have lived in my downstairs flat for 20 years now. In that timeframe I have had approx 5 different upstairs neighbours and never had an issue... until the current tenants moved in 3 - 4 years ago.

    From my research, there are two distinct types of noise classification - Airbound sounds, and impact sound. Air bound sounds = Music, Speaking/Shouting etc..., Impact sounds = footfall, foot steps, dropped objects etc....

    Im suffering with both types of sound, but the sounds that really bother / disturb me are the impact noises - primarily heavy walking. The tenants have no carpet upstairs, just the floorboard the property was built with. The main issue is that the woman upstairs is regularly active throughout the night, she is a heavy walker meaning I hear a lot of impact sounds making it difficult / impossible to get to sleep. I have had many discussions with them politely about the disturbance they are causing me. The annoying thing is, they are always polite (ish) and say the right thing such as 'we need to get this sorted', however the words do not turn into actions, and the problem persists. After about 12 months I offered to buy them carpet, underlay and to have it fitted at my own expense in order to try and resolve the issue, but got the reply 'Were not making any noise, and we don't want carpet'

    After the above failed I gave it a few more months and nothing improved so reported it to my council. Was sent a log to keep. Logged events, returned, and then got a response saying it was 'just living noise'. Even though there were LOTS of events recorded at 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am, 6am etc...

    I made a montage of sounds I hear recorded on my iPad, primarily of the louder sounds. The issue is, the footfall is what really bothers me, and by its random nature (i.e., you never know when its going to happen) it makes it difficult to get the iPad, open the app, and hit record while the sound is active, also what is recorded does not represent what is actually heard - explained more near the bottom.

    Here's the video of a selection of sounds recorded over a short period of time. I believe a lot of the sounds recorded are dogs and cats jumping/landing and running.

    About another year went by with no improvement, and I reported it again stating that I was very disappointed with the first response from the councils 'its just living noise' and pointed out that no one has taken any time to look into this issue and see / hear me personally. I also pointed out how this is having a serious negative effect on my health / mental health, and also, how I feel the majority of the issue would be resolved if carpet was fitted upstairs.

    I then had a visit from my 'Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer' and she liaised with the upstairs neighbours and agreed the main problem is the lack of carpet upstairs but stated that the council 'cant force them to have carpet'. She said she would see what she could do and would get back to me. She got back to me saying she had got some rugs for upstairs and the tenants had agreed to have them fitted so this would hopefully go some way to solving the problem. This was the first bit of positive news in this whole ordeal so my spirits where lifted a little. I then got a call about 1 week later from the Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer saying that she had just been to the tenants upstairs to deliver the rugs, but on arrival the tenants refused her access and said they changed their minds and don't want the rugs anymore.

    After this, it was decided to put sound recording equipment into my property. Upstairs where advised noise recording equipment was being installed, and typically it was much quieter than usual, ultimately resulting in the council saying there is not sufficient evidence to take any further action. When the sound recording equipment is installed you are instructed of how you press a button to record sounds, and it will capture 5-10 seconds of sound before you press the button. For my particular issue, I don't feel this method for recording is suitable. I am at work for 10 - 12 hours per day, and then in order for me to capture these sounds I am reporting that happen throughout the night, I have to then stay up throughout the night to press the button when a sound happens. Not only this, but you then have to write down the time, noise, duration etc... when am I meant to sleep ? This might work if you have a noisy neighbour blasting out loud music for a period of time, but for my particular complaint, it just adds more inconvenience to me.

    During this whole ordeal I have tried various different types of ear-buds to try and block out the noise, but none of these have worked for me - I still hear the noise. I have spent about a month away from home staying at friends and neighbours just to try and get some sleep. I have also spent about a week sleeping in my works van (in the front seats - back loaded with equipment) just to get some sleep - all while paying rent I might add. I have been to the doctors who signed me off work for 2 weeks (lost pay), and he also prescribed me anti-depressants. Trying to hold down my job through all of this has been tough, and to be honest I'm not sure how I have managed to do so. I am constantly depressed, on-edge, short of patience and in a generally bad mood.

    About 1 year ago I discovered wearing over-ear headphones and playing white noise at a reasonable volume blocks out the noise. So for the last 1+ year this is what I have been doing to get to sleep. However this is now giving me sore ears, and also affecting my hearing, also a sore neck as not being able to lye comfortably due to the bulk of the headphones.

    What Now ?

    One option is for me to move property and believe me I have thought very long and hard about this, but there are some things stopping me from going this route. 1 - I have spent a lot of money renovating my property and I was happy here before the current tenants where moved in above. 2 - I have purchased my property under the 'Right To Buy' scheme, and I cannot sell the property for at least 5 years, if I do, I would have to pay back a significant amount of money, probably 40,000 +

    In my tenancy agreement there are the following stipulations :

    • You are not permitted to have pets without prior written permission from the Council. The Council can withdraw permission at any time.

    • You must not do anything, or permit to be done any annoyance to the other tenants of the Building. Noise, including the use of radio or television must not be audible outside the premises between the hours of 11pm and 7am.

    • You must keep the flat carpeted except the kitchen and bathroom which must be covered with a suiutable material to avoid the transmission of noise.

    I had previously stated to the Neighbourhood Enforcement Office that I believed there was a general consensus that between the hours of 11pm and 7am it is reasonable to expect a quiet home environment, as pointed out above. The response I got from her was 'Thats a myth'.

    I also raised the fact that I thought we where obliged to carpet the property, also as stated above, the reply from her was 'We can't force them to have carpet'.

    It is also stated above about no pets, yet my neighbours have 2 dogs and 5 cats, they did have 13 cats at one point! I got no response to that question.

    So, why do I have to adhere to these regulations, but my neighbours do not?

    Its now been about 8 months since the sound recording equipment was installed and the issue is still present. I contacted the council again informing them that the issue is still ongoing and I feel my only option now is to soundproof the inside of my property in an attempt to resolve the ongoing problem, and asked if there are any other avenues to explore before I do this.

    The reply I got from her comprised of 2 parts
    1. I would need to apply for permission to carry out the work and fill out a 'application for house alterations form' which may be declined.
    2. To use an app called 'The Noise App' to record the noises once again. However, if the results of using the 'The Noise App' where not sufficient, then the council would close the case and no further action would be taken on the matter.

    I found the first point very disappointing. I will potentially be declined permission to soundproof and I also can't move as explained above.

    I then decided to give 'The Noise App' ( a try to see how it works. I was not too hopeful as the app has a very low rating from users saying it records a lot of static noise, and doesn't record quiet sounds. I was also disappointed to see that you still have to press a button to record sound, as explained I find this method not very suitable to my particular issue.

    I recently discovered that I can recreate the kind of impact sounds that are disturbing me from upstairs by banging a wall that separates my living room from the kitchen - it makes a loud thud / boom sound / vibration. The other walls in my property do not make this sound - don't know why ? With this in mind, I used The Noise App while banging the wall to see how the app worked and in turn what it recorded. It recorded nothing!

    With the above in mind, I used an SPL meter app and done the same (using Z weighting), this recorded SPL levels approaching 70db. I made a short comparison video showing that while the SPL levels are approaching 70db, The Noise App records nothing.

    Heres the video -

    When viewing the above video you need to consider that when present in the room, there is a deep thud / boom in the room that is clearly audible / felt. However The Noise App records nothing, nor does the phone recording the video. It demonstrates that these impact sounds are not adequately recorded when recorded purely as a waveform - the SPL needs to be factored in too.

    Its obvious to me that The Noise App is not suitable for my situation, and it also makes me question what was recorded when the sound equipment was first installed, and also what are the council using to determine a noise as being a disturbance / nuisance ? If they are simply listening to a recorded waveform and subjectively determining if it is disturbing, then as demonstrated this methodology is not sufficient as it does not represent the boom sounds that are heard and picked up by an SPL meter measuring up to 70db.

    Im just not sure what to do now. Im considering visiting the CAB for advice, but after that I'm not sure.

    Any advice welcomed.
Page 2
    • mattpaint
    • By mattpaint 13th Feb 18, 9:49 AM
    • 108 Posts
    • 182 Thanks
    Just move. You won't lose any money - you didn't earn the money you'll have to pay back, so just cut your losses. They're not doing anything wrong and it's making you miserable so just leave.
    • Primrose
    • By Primrose 13th Feb 18, 10:19 AM
    • 8,027 Posts
    • 28,098 Thanks
    I don't agree with this response. This is just condoning anti social behaviour by others and enabling them to continue in this mode.

    The OP has invested a lot of time and effort in making his home nice. People who are not prepared to confirm to the normal rules of social behaviour need to have it impressed on them that if the Council makes rules for the housing it has made available to them, those rules need to be obeyed. They are not onerous at the end of the day.

    If everybody flouted rules, we would live in constant anarchy.
    • dekaspace
    • By dekaspace 13th Feb 18, 12:47 PM
    • 4,337 Posts
    • 3,812 Thanks
    My own noisy neighbour has decided to play games, all I ever wanted was a compromise, but her constant lies and trying to get me to believe the noise I hear was in my head and 2 parties in just over a week made me complain, she put that snotty note through my door and got phone call from council today stating the neighbour has been agressive down the phone to them (but can't tell me what was said) but refused mediation.

    Basically she thinks SHE is the victim despite having groups of friends round a few days a week, parties, laminate flooring, a barking puppy and affecting my physical and mental health.
    • Sunberry_723
    • By Sunberry_723 13th Feb 18, 1:41 PM
    • 2 Posts
    • 2 Thanks
    If you really can't move and your flat has high enough ceilings I'd pay to install an independent ceiling. It's not ideal and you shouldn't have to, but it will cost less than moving.
    • jamesperrett
    • By jamesperrett 14th Feb 18, 12:20 AM
    • 797 Posts
    • 432 Thanks
    If you really can't move and your flat has high enough ceilings I'd pay to install an independent ceiling. It's not ideal and you shouldn't have to, but it will cost less than moving.
    Originally posted by Sunberry_723
    That's exactly what I was thinking - there are designs using interleaved joists that wouldn't lose much ceiling height.
    • Gavin83
    • By Gavin83 14th Feb 18, 10:25 AM
    • 5,117 Posts
    • 8,321 Thanks
    If you really can't move and your flat has high enough ceilings I'd pay to install an independent ceiling. It's not ideal and you shouldn't have to, but it will cost less than moving.
    Originally posted by Sunberry_723
    Personally I'd try my suggestion first. It'll be a lot less hassle and will cost about 30.
    • Jimmy_Boy
    • By Jimmy_Boy 14th Feb 18, 10:56 AM
    • 85 Posts
    • 7 Thanks
    I'm not sure where the 30 figure comes from? I'm no builder, and know nothing about this area, but 30 seems exceptionally cheap.

    I have been looking at this

    I sent them an e-mail yesterday and the guy phoned me this morning and discussed some options. Gonna cost significantly more than 30 though! lol
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