Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Too Quiet?


Maybe I'm being unreasonable but my landlords have seriously annoyed me over the past four months. It all started on Super Bowl Sunday when new tenants moved into the apartment above me. Okay, fine. I had new tenants move in next to me the Super Bowl Sunday the year before. I hoped that these new neighbors upstairs would be quieter than the previous occupants who had a three year old that loved to scream from the balcony and dump stuff off of it along with throw temper tantrums that echoed in my apartment with everything in dropped, kicked or whatever he was doing up there. So, understandably I had hoped for a nice quiet neighbor. But unfortunately it wasn't to be. I chalked it up to they were just moving in and they didn't have all their furniture yet. You see, the previous tenants, when they moved in, before they had a the bed moved in they slept on the floor in the bedroom above me. On the floor. Yep. They (my landlords) say that I have concrete soundproofing. But for the first several days I got the fun pleasure of hearing my new neighbor upstairs SNORING! You have no idea how happy I was that they got a bed! But for the next year or so that they were here I slept with earplugs in. Imagine my delight when they moved out and my ears weren't sore every morning!

But I digress, back to the current neighbors. The first weekend they were here I assumed they didn't have their TV stand unpacked yet and the TV was just sitting on the floor. I was half right. As the bass echoed through my apartment I'd literally be on the brink of insanity. It was like someone had trapped a dog in a cage and started blowing a dog whistle. If there is one sound I can't stand it's the sound of bass coming through the wall/ceiling or even a car driving by with their radio on too loud while I'm trying to study or get things done. So when it got too obnoxious for me to handle I pounded on the ceiling. Probably rude, yes, but I didn't know WHO was living upstairs other than a big dog which I had yet to see. And it worked. They turned down the noise and I went back to studying.

Since I'm not a big fan of confronting total strangers I went over and asked my landlords to have a chat with them about the volume of their music. When this didn't solve anything I talked to them about it again. I even called them during the day once when the noise was bothering me and they came over to my apartment to actually listen. Then they went upstairs to find out the problem. Turns out the new tenants have some fancy floor model TV with speakers on the bottom of it. So I get to listen to the reverb in my house. It doesn't help that after a car accident a few weeks after they moved in my ears seem to be even more sensitive than ever.

Anyway, when the noise didn't stop I went back to the landlords again. They assured me that the volume was not loud in the tenants apartment and that the tenant had taken measures to fix it. Apparently she'd placed a mat of some sort under the TV. Hmmm, yeah, that didn't work. I was still hearing bass. There are actually several people in the office and as I was talking to one another woman chimed in (thank you) to tell the other that a mat wasn't going to help. The TV needed to get off the floor. I'm sure if looks could kill there would have been daggers right through the heart of that woman right there! But instead of helping the landlord looked at me and said there was nothing else they could do. It's just because it's so quiet here that the neighbor's noise bothers me. If things weren't so quiet I wouldn't notice. Frankly, if things were any louder I'd have moved out a year ago!

Feeling rather defeated I figured my only other hope was explaining to the tenant upstairs what the problem was. I typed a nice letter to her explaining that it literally sounded like someone had parked a car on my balcony and left the bass on every time they turned on the TV. I got a nice letter back that stated now that she understood the issue she'd work on it.

I was psyched!

Until a few days later when the noise was back. It comes and goes but at 11 PM it's annoying no matter how long it's been going on! So pounding on the ceiling helped a little. Until the night they decided to pound back. I'd had an overall crappy day at work and wanted to come home and just relax in the quiet of my own house. But there was none of that as their TV was on before I ever got home. (Now, I'm not saying they shouldn't watch TV but you can't tell me they only watch TV between 10 PM and 1 AM.) So just to make sure I heard them right I pounded on the ceiling once more and had a responding pounding back.

Oh no, they did NOT just do that.

I figure I have two options here since there is absolutely no way I can ignore the sound and the fact that, where the heck else am I supposed to go? So, first choice: call the police and file a noise complaint which will take them over an hour to get there and meant I'd have to listen to their noise for that entire time. Or, choice two: I can strap my subwoofer to the ceiling and turn on a little "noise" of my own. Besides, the landlords said it was too quiet here. (Lesson here: Don't piss me off when I've had a crappy day. I'm in no mood to think reasonably!) So, I strapped the subwoofer to the ceiling and cranked up the music louder than I ever had in the past. They pounded on the floor but seeing as that didn't work when I did it to them, why would I consider turning down the music for them? A few minutes later mom (yeah, it's a mom and teenager that live upstairs) came downstairs. I was in absolutely no mood to be hospitable to anyone so I didn't answer the door. I played two songs. TWO. Less than 15 minutes. Turned it off and went about enjoying the quiet evening. Now was it really that difficult?

But this blog isn't really about the neighbors, or it wasn't supposed to be anyway. My lease expires in two months and I'd desperately like to move out. Unfortunately I don't have money for a down payment on a house so I'm stuck here until then. I got my lease extension five days before they wanted me to turn it back in. So glad they give you plenty of time to think about it. There are three options: 1) a year's lease, 2) an 8 month lease, or 3) a 60 day notice to vacate option where you give them a two months notice that you're leaving and also meaning your rent can increase every two months! Okay, so they're crappy options. I want to move! But the thing that really irritates me is that they've increased my rent based on what they call enormous utility cost increases. Funny, last time I checked I paid my own utilities. I don't think they need over $150,000 a year to pay for what small increase they may see in the cost of turning on a light. Not to mention I haven't seen any "enormous" increase in my utility bill. In fact, I haven't seen any at all or if there is one it's tiny.

At this point I start looking at my options. Sign it and forget it. Go over and talk to them which has never gotten me far in the past. Just outright refuse to pay the increase and continue paying the same thing I've been paying. Or move. So I talked to a friend of mine who is himself a landlord. I decided that I'd start by writing them a letter and letting them know that the amount of rent they're asking me to pay is more than their published rental rate on their website. As a loyal tenant for 3 years that seems downright unreasonable to me. So, that's what I've done. I'll keep you posted on how that goes. I'm guessing it will get me no where. At which point I decide if I want to continue paying the rate I pay now and risk being taken to court and evicted or if I suck it up and sign it.

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