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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    Default Upstairs Neighbor Noise Harassment and HOA Incompentence

    My question involves a condominium located in the State of: CALIFORNIA

    Hi Everyone,

    Need some advice on my current situation:

    I currently live in a condominium complex in CA. About a year ago, my upstairs neighbor moved in and installed hardwood flooring throughout his unit. Since then, I have heard very loud noise disturbances in my unit consisting of banging, thumping, pounding, stomping and impact sounds caused by my neighbor dropping heavy objects onto his hardwood floor. These noises occur throughout the day. There isn't 15-20 minutes that go by where I don't hear some sort of loud noise, except when he's in the shower (I can hear it), when he's sleeping or when he's away. Unfortunately, he works for his parents (who are based out of town, about 4 hours away by car), so he rarely actually "goes to work" and is usually in his condo all day, every day... which means there's very little quiet time for me. On a daily basis, the noises start around 630 AM and last until past midnight.

    At first, I tried to go up and talk to him personally about the problem. I tried to be as friendly and cordial as possible, engaging him in small talk about his interests, while kindly asking him to try to keep it down. I was always met with some sort of hostility since day one, and insistent denial that he isn't causing any noise. His response seems to always be "it's not me." At first, I believed him, but then realized that there were no other occupied units in the vicinity, except the one next to his which was occupied by a little old lady and had the softest/plushest carpet available throughout the unit (no way she could've made that much noise on her own). Prior to the third time I went up to talk to him, I actually stood in front of his door to verify that the noise was coming from his unit (it was).

    After the third time I went up to talk to him, which was a relatively friendly conversation but yielded no results, I got fed up and filed a complaint with my HOA Manager. At this point I went into an Executive (Private) Session with the HOA Board, who promised me quick resolution to the issue, even if it meant fining my neighbor for violating our condo's nuisance rules. They also said they would do a visual "inspection" to make sure that his flooring was up to HOA standards.

    The HOA Board then notified my neighbor to schedule a time for the flooring inspection. He had 30 days to respond. He didn't respond during the first 30 days, and the only thing the HOA did was extend it out another 30 days. Finally, on the last day that he could respond without getting fined (59th day out of 60), he agreed to let the Board do their inspection. This "inspection" was basically a sham. They went into his unit, dropped a pair of CHOPSTICKS on the floor, while another Board member was in my unit, and asked that Board member if they could hear anything. She could not, so they deemed the flooring "acceptable". When I asked for a more scientific inspection I was told that I would have to pay for it and it would cost $3,000. I asked them for other options and their response was, "well maybe it's a behavioral problem with the neighbor himself and we can fine him for either nuisance or violating our building's quiet hour rules". I agreed with that.

    The day after the "inspection" the noises got significantly worse and noticeably deliberate. My neighbor would wait until I got home (he can hear my door shut or when I turn on my water in the bathroom), and then he would start pounding loudly on my ceiling, causing it and all attached materials to vibrate significantly. Some days I would quietly enter my unit to make him think I wasn't there. During these days, it would be dead silent until he realized I was home and then he would start pounding again. He'd also do it in the middle of the night to deliberately wake me up or prevent me from sleeping. At this point I contacted my HOA manager and requested that the Board fine him. I was told by the manager that the Board would NOT fine him unless I could prove that the noises were happening. I asked what would constitute as sufficient proof, and my manager said either to get our on-site security guard to hear the noises, or to record them. I did both.

    I showed the manager the videos and had the security guard email him a report of each incident. The manager response was now changed to, "well keep video taping them" and "yes, the security guard heard SOME noises, but how do we know it's above the acceptable threshold for noise?" (is there even such a thing?!?). I told my manager that these were his suggested forms of "proof" and asked him what else he wanted me to do. He then suggested having a Board member come into my unit and stay there for an hour to listen to the noise. I made all necessary arrangements with the Board member but on the night that she was supposed to come down, she cancelled 10 minutes before our appointment. Needless to say, if she had actually come down on that night, she would've heard the noise. She never rescheduled. When I asked my manager if we could reschedule his response was now changed to, "the Board members are volunteers and don't want to get involved." Involved? Isn't it the Board's JOB to do this sort of thing? Isn't this what they VOLUNTEERED FOR? So again, I asked him, what do you want me to do? He said to call security every time the noise occured and ask them to tell my neighbor to quiet down. I did that, about 10 times. Each time I did so, the noises would stop for the remainder of the night, but the next day, my neighbor would escalate the noise level as a form of retaliation for my complaints.

    I finally had enough about a year into this issue, and called the Police. Again, it was quiet for the remainder of the night, but the next day, he started retaliating. I waited two weeks before calling the Police again, and again, same results. It has gotten so bad now that the noises are occurring almost constantly. I can't even live in my own home. Meanwhile, the Board refuses to fine him, and another resident has even told me that the Manager told them that he thought I was making this stuff up and not actually hearing anything. What's worse is that the manager has basically told me that they believe my neighbor over me. He's said to me many times, "well it's funny no one else hears these noises". When I respond and tell him that the security guards have heard it, his response then becomes (again), "well how do I know that those noises are above the threshold?"

    It's bad enough to have a neighbor who is deliberately making loud excessive noise at all hours of the day, deliberately trying to prevent me from sleeping or enjoying my own home that I spent a LOT of money purchasing; but it's worse to have an HOA Board and manager who refuses to help. What should I do? I can't keep calling the Police, the last time they came down here, they were basically telling me to work it out with management (I've TRIED)... and I understand that they're busy with bigger problems than my noise issue, but it's becoming very unbearable. On top of that the few times I've seen my neighbor in the building, he gave me a very threatening look as if he wanted to start a fight with me. He's much bigger than me physically, and judging by his actions, not completely sane... so I don't really feel too safe walking around the building anymore. It's depressing even driving home from work knowing that I have to deal with this when I get home, every day.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Upstairs Neighbor Noise Harassment and HOA Incompentence

    How about videotaping the sound along with a sound level meter? Or inviting that board member back for a rescheduled visit?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2010
    In a state of confusion

    Lightbulb Re: Upstairs Neighbor Noise Harassment and HOA Incompentence

    How about purchasing a nice pair of Bose speakers ?
    Do you like opera ? Or maybe some Pink Floyd..
    You won’t hear his noise,
    but he sure will hear yours..

    Just a thought…..

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010

    Default Re: Upstairs Neighbor Noise Harassment and HOA Incompentence


    I feel for you. I know what you are going through more than words can say. I have experienced everything you mention, but to far greater extreme (I think). My hope is to help. Here's what I would suggest:

    1. Get a civil harassment restraining order. This should get your neighbor's attention. It will put him on notice. If he continues, he's violated the order and can be arrested (if you choose).

    You live in California, so can you get help with the protective order from the California Court Self-help Center (here):

    2. Get a neutral third-party witness to the noise/harassment. You might consider a private investigator. Have them sit in your home as a neutral third party witness. Make sure the PI is familiar with writing reports and court testimony. You might not need a lot of PI hours based on your description. If you can’t hire a PI, get a friend or family member.

    3. Sue your neighbor in small claims court. I know it's extreme, but it's a good option to. You have audio recordings and witness statements (security), ect.

    4. Review your condo’s CCRs for procedures on how it handles disciplinary hearings and internal disputes. These are required per California Civil Code 1363.810.

    5. Finally, I truly suggest that you get an understanding of who this neighbor is, and what he’s capable of before you escalate this. Talk to other neighbors (if you can). It’s my experience – people like your neighbor and mine have done this type of harassment before. We are not their first. In my case, the person had a troubled history.

    I hope this helps.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Key West, FL

    Default Re: Upstairs Neighbor Noise Harassment and HOA Incompentence

    I would record the sounds and keep a log of the exact time, location, etc. A week of logs will be perfect to use in court.

    Talk to some flooring places. I would bet that the wood floor was not installed correctly, or there is some deficiency in the installation or materials.

    See if you can find out who installed the floor.

    If there is any evidence, I would sue the floor installer together with the owner of the condo. He probably has home owners insurance and this would be covered by his insurance and the insurance company would provide him with an attorney as it would have to absorb the damage claim. Insurance companies are much more likely to settle than some stupid arrogant individual.

    Is he using the condo to run a business? Perhaps that might violate the HOA rules and would probably violate local ordinances.

    You should, as already suggested, do a background investigation. What sort of assets does this person have? Do they have a criminal record? If you get an investigator, they can find out what his credit rating is, if he has been a party to previous lawsuits, if there are any judgments, and other things that can be very useful information for guiding your decisions.

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