Flat Chat Strata Forum Neighbour noise Current Page

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  • #60238
    monique10
    Flatchatter

    I live on the top floor of my block and have a downstairs neighbor who has complained about the following:

    My cats using the kitty litter try in my bathroom at night (I moved it)

    I am a shift worker at a hospital, commencing at 5am three days a week. She complains my shower before work wakes her up. She even recorded me in the shower and sent that to me which I feel is a real violation of my privacy.

    She asked me to put a rubber mat on the floor of the shower and complains when I remove the mat as the suction makes a noise

    She doesn’t want me to flush my toilet at night.

    She has also complained to the Strata about me walking on my floorboards.

    I have lived here for ten years and there has never been a problem in the past. She no longer works and is a light sleeper. However, I have to work and prefer a shower I’m the morning.

    I am feeling quite harassed and struggle with anxiety. I think I have complied as much as possible but she just finds something else to complain about. As neighbors, we have always got on reasonably well but I no longer want to reply to her messages.

    I have informed the Strata Manager who receives numerous complaints from her weekly about neighbors watching tv, parking, using fans in laundry, etc

    Do I just ignore her and live my life? My home should be my sanctuary.

    • This topic was modified 5 months, 3 weeks ago by .
Viewing 15 replies - 1 through 15 (of 15 total)
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  • #60244
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    There is a well-established medical syndrome associated with aging called hyperacusis whereby people’s hearing is more rather than less sensitive.

    An elderly lady who was a friend of ours used to drive her neighbours mad with complaints about the slightest noise. She had that issue.

    Perhaps you could suggest that your neighbour consult an audiologist as her hearing is clearly not normal.

    Otherwise, if you feel her complaints amount to harassment, you could apply at your local court for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) requiring her not to contact you except via a lawyer. Check that link for more details.

    Or just go to your chemist and buy some of those foam earplugs than many people used for air travel (remember that?) and drop them in her letterbox.  It may inflame the situation but you’ll feel better.

     

    #60245
    Sir Humphrey
    Strataguru

    I have informed the Strata Manager who receives numerous complaints from her weekly about neighbors watching tv, parking, using fans in laundry, etc

    This at least demonstrates that it is not just you she is complaining about, from which you might be able to take some comfort. If the residents of other units do not think the general noise levels in the building are unreasonable, it would seem that it is her expectations that are out of line.

    I have certainly encountered a few people who seem to think they should not ever be able to hear any sounds from their neighbours, which is an unreasonable expectation in high or medium density living. I suggest that you just have to try to ignore your neighbour having done what you reasonably can do to minimise disturbance.

    #60809
    reddant
    Flatchatter

    What you describe sounds like there is inadequate insulation between floors. For example, you should have wall to wall carpet with underlay on your floor, not exposed floorboards.

    Otherwise, the noise complaints sound unreasonable.

    Regarding the comment which has been posted:

    “if you feel her complaints amount to harassment, you could apply at your local court for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order(APVO) requiring her not to contact you except via a lawyer. Check that link for more details.”

    An AVO is NOT warranted here. You will be up for a costs order and lots more anxiety than you are currently experiencing and you will cause unnecessary anxiety to this lady who does not deserve it. AVOs are not the knee jerk solution to problems in civil society, they were originally designed for people who fear being murdered.

    Surely a reasonable person would attempt mediation about this noise issue before an AVO? Honestly.

    #60815
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    An AVO is NOT warranted here. You will be up for a costs order and lots more anxiety than you are currently experiencing and you will cause unnecessary anxiety to this lady who does not deserve it. AVOs are not the knee jerk solution to problems in civil society, they were originally designed for people who fear being murdered.

    This is based on what?  Your personal knowledge of the case or the people involved. Should the OP put up with the harassment because the harasser may get upset if they complain? Also, I referred to an APVO – an Apprehended Personal Violence Order which is different.

    Maybe AVOs were originally designed for people who feared being murdered, but the world has moved on. Let’s look at what the NSW Police website says about who can apply for an APVO:

    Any person who is or has been the victim of physical assault, threats of physical harm, stalking, intimidation or harassment and has a reasonable fear to believe that this behaviour will continue.

    OK, and as for costs, how does the process work? Again let’s go to the source for information:

    A person over the age of 16 or a Police Officer can apply for an AVO.  A person can speak to the Court Register at their local court.  If the behaviour amounts to a criminal offence, you should report the matter to police, whether or not you have a relationship with the perpetrator.  Police will assess your situation [and] obtain a statement if required …

    So where are the crippling costs? Of course mediation is preferable, but what if the other person doesn’t want to mediate (perhaps you should look up the definition of the word before responding)?

    What you describe sounds like there is inadequate insulation between floors. For example, you should have wall to wall carpet with underlay on your floor, not exposed floorboards.

    So is the OP supposed to carpet her bathroom and shower?

    What is required here is a circuit breaker and for the downstairs neighbour to get a clear and strong message that they can’t keep complaining about every little noise the OP makes.  Alternatively, if it is a noise insulation problem, they should take it up with the owners corp.

    I offered a range of potential solutions in my reply, ranging from an APVO to earplugs.  Yes the APVO would be extreme but what other solution do you offer apart from “give in”?

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by .
    #60817
    kaindub
    Flatchatter

    This is a slight diversion but I think deserves airing

    I have instigated an APVO against a lot owner.

    The initial application is easy, just requiring completion of a form and an interview by the registrar at the local court. The registrar will determine on the basis of your initial application, which is just a few sentences, whether there is merit. He does not determine whether you will succeed.

    From here it gets more interesting. Court appearances and sub,issions will be required. The act (I can’t recall the name) defines what does and does not constitute behaviour covered by an APVO.

    Basically it’s not to keep annoying people at arms length. It does not cover verbal abuse. It’s designed to protect people from physical harm. Your lawyer will examine your claim and advise whether you have grounds.

    In order to deter frivolous use of an AVPO, the courts will award costs if you lose your application.  Even if you withdraw your application, the court could award costs against the applicant.

    The cost of getting an AVPO awarded, if you use a lawyer, will be $3000 and up, depending on the veracity of the other parties argument. And the other party will spend similar money.

    In my experience, the AVPO is a tool available to all lot owners. BUT it’s a very blunt tool that should be used as a last resort and only where physical violence is threatened.

    #60827
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    In my experience, the AVPO is a tool available to all lot owners. BUT it’s a very blunt tool that should be used as a last resort and only where physical violence is threatened.

    I wonder about cases where people are, for instance, sending a stream of nasty letters to people.  Every official article I have read about this refers to fears of violence and/or harassment.  If it’s only threats or fears of violence that trigger APVOs, why doesn’t the law or the literature say that?

    I admit that it’s probably inappropriate in this particular case, which is a grumpy retiree with over-sensitive hearing.  But what about cases such as some that have been aired here in the past where a resident couldn’t leave her front door without her neighbour muttering obscenities at her? There’s no threat of violence but it’s definitely a form of harassment.

    #60828
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    Basically it’s not to keep annoying people at arms length. It does not cover verbal abuse. It’s designed to protect people from physical harm. Your lawyer will examine your claim and advise whether you have grounds.

    I’m loath to get all bush lawyer on this but the relevant law is in Section 19 of the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007.

    It says:

    (1)  A court may, on application, make an apprehended personal violence order if it is satisfied on the balance of probabilities that a person has reasonable grounds to fear and in fact fears—

    (b)  the engagement of the other person in conduct in which the other person (i)  intimidates the person … being conduct that, in the opinion of the court, is sufficient to warrant the making of the order.

    (3)  For the purposes of this section, conduct may amount to intimidation of a person even though … it does not involve actual or threatened violence to the person …

    We might also look at section 10 of the Act which defines its purpose:
    10   Object of Act in relation to personal violence

    (1)  The object of this Act in relation to personal violence is to ensure the safety and protection of all persons who experience personal violence outside a domestic relationship.

    (2)  This Act aims to achieve that object by—

    (a)  empowering courts to make apprehended personal violence orders in appropriate circumstances to protect people from violence, intimidation (including harassment) and stalking,

    As I said, probably not applicable in this case but, contrary to what’s been written here,  the law clearly does not require actual violence or threats of violence for an APVO to be issued.
    I also note that the magistrate has the option to refer the parties to mediation – a potential outcome that hasn’t been addressed in any of these discussions (apart from a vague suggestion in an earlier post).  Does that mean it never happens? And are magistrates arbitrarily applying an “actual violence” benchmark to filter out spurious and vexatious applications?
    In saying all this, I am aware that there is often a gulf between the letter of the law, its intent and its implementation. And it’s that latter reality with which we have to deal.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by .
    #60873
    IFSydney
    Flatchatter

    Outside of the law, I think socially the best course of action here is to not interact with her. Even if you had a good relationship in the past, she’s clearly not interested in keeping that relationship and instead complaining about all of her neighbors.

    #60885
    Erte
    Flatchatter

    You say “I have lived here for ten years and there has never been a problem in the past.”

    Did she begin complaining soon after her retirement? Or at some point after the outbreak of the pandemic in March 2020?

    I ask because my own experience suggests that one or both of these could well be a factor. The past 18 months have, for me, seen a distinct rise in noise-related irritation and a decrease in personal tolerance. (And I don’t have hyperacusis.) It’s the result, I think, of a combination of things, including:
    • more people in my building working from home (including the neighbour above with wood floors),
    • being at home a lot more myself because of lockdowns and general caution (although I worked from home before the pandemic anyway, so this is just a difference of degree), and
    • COVID-related depression.

    Like the things you describe, the noises that irritate me wouldn’t be classified as outrageous or unreasonable. I’m talking about TV sound coming through the floor in the evening when there’s no other noise to obscure it, the noise of vacuum cleaner heads vigorously bumping on skirting boards, cupboard doors being closed a little too loudly,  chairs scraping on floors, etc., not screaming children, loud parties or drum kit practice. You could say intrusive rather than loud. But there’s more of it, I’m exposed to more of it, and recently there’s been little opportunity to escape it. Headphones and earplugs really aren’t a practical or comfortable solution for this kind of pervasive low-level noise. And I’ve discovered that it’s stressful and anxiety-making – much more so than I would have predicted – and it takes enormous restraint not to complain. Because no one wants to be “that” neighbour.

    So I feel empathy for your downstairs neighbour even as I’d agree that her complaints sound excessive. I’m sure she too wants her home to be her sanctuary. Don’t we all?

    Given that you’ve both been there a long time and the relationship has been reasonably good, it’s really worth trying to find some way to resolve things through good mediation and mutual creative problem-solving rather than resort to actions such as seeking an AVPO or the passive-aggressive leaving of earplugs that might tank the relationship for good, only adding to your own anxiety and likely not achieving the desired result of stopping the complaints.

    I would certainly counsel against ignoring her. Ignore/don’t respond to the actual complaints, perhaps, but try if you can to maintain a cordial relationship and don’t stop interacting with her altogether. If she is, like so many of us, experiencing depression and anxiety as a result of the pandemic, loneliness, and/or being retired, then social isolation and feeling ostracised by her neighbours will probably only make that worse and almost certainly result in her feeling even more intolerant to domestic noise. Which you don’t want…

    #60887
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    I just want to clarify the comments I made earlier in relation to Apprehended Personal Violence Orders (APVOs).

    This is what I actually wrote:

    Otherwise, if you feel her complaints amount to harassment, you could apply at your local court for an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) requiring her not to contact you except via a lawyer.

    The key phrase there is “if you feel her complaints amount to harassment”. Obviously, an APVO is not a first (or second or third) response to complaints from a neighbour.  But if there was a relentless campaign of complaint upon complaint, to the point where you were  frightened to move around your own home, you might start looking at more extreme measures.

    This evolved into a side debate about whether seeking an APVO is ever appropriate in a dispute between neighbours (and I seem to be the only person who thinks there are situations that don’t involve actual physical violence when an APVO might be).

    However, what we should probably focus on is how much neighbour noise we should be prepared to tolerate, how our complaints are presented and how the neighbours respond.

    Every situation is different. You don’t want to be constantly whingeing but then you shouldn’t let your frustrations build to the point where  the first the noisy neighbour knows about the problem is when you are on their doorstep in a monumental rage.

    Leading on from Erte’s post above, perhaps a note from your owners corporation to all owners asking residents to be mindful of the noise they could be making and tolerant of the additional noise they may be hearing from more people spending more time at home, might defuse some of the tensions.

    But our strata schemes are awash with inadequately insulated timber and tile floors, so this problem will persist long after the pandemic has faded away.

    #60930
    spmanager
    Flatchatter

    I think everyone should stop and take a big breath right now. The issue has gone from a Neighbour complaining about noise. To the the correct legal application and use of AVO’s; Seriously people just stop.

    Go back to the first issue raised.

    ‘My cats using the kitty litter tray in my bathroom at night (I moved it)’

    The neighbour’s unreasonable request is the issue!

    There is no indication that she is doing anything to accommodate her super hearing in a block of units.

    Monique10, after notifying the Strata Manager and OC about the invasion of your privacy. I would ignore any further communication with the neighbour. You will never satisfy her.

    For reference to what you are facing go on Youtube and look up anything under “Karen behaviour’ because that’s what you are facing. A Karen’s defining characteristics are a sense of entitlement, a willingness and desire to complain, and a self-centered approach to interacting with others. Also “demands the world exist according to her standards with little regard for others. ” True that’s straight from Wikipedia, but it fits.

    So everyone can be nice and “move a Litter tray” etc, but there will always be another complaint.

     

    #60933
    Jimmy-T
    Keymaster

    For reference to what you are facing go on Youtube and look up anything under “Karen behaviour’ because that’s what you are facing. A Karen’s defining characteristics are a sense of entitlement, a willingness and desire to complain, and a self-centered approach to interacting with others. Also “demands the world exist according to her standards with little regard for others. ” True that’s straight from Wikipedia, but it fits.

    You almost had me convinced until “straight from Wikipedia” (a terrific resource but occasionally dangerously opinionated rather than factual).

    I don’t think this is “Karen” behaviour, although it displays similar characteristics.  This is one neighbour who complains about noise (to which she may be hypersensitive) to another who wants her to leave her alone.

    And I don’t know if ignoring her is really an option unless Monique10 has developed Zen-like meditative powers to exclude all external stimuli.

    But I agree that the simplest and most likely effective option is to deal with the problem at source. Perhaps it’s just saying to her, either to her face or in a note, “I’ve done everything possible to accommodate your wishes and address your complaints and I can’t do any more.  In the interest of remaining on good terms, if you have any further problems, please don’t bring them to me, but report them to the strata committee who may be able to assist.”

     

    #60966
    monique10
    Flatchatter
    Chat-starter

    Unfortunately the situation escalated after I initially wrote this. She got a quote to have her bathroom insulated from the noise and called me to say that she feels the Strata should agree to cover the quote of $400.

    I told her I don’t agree to this and that she should fund this herself. Then several texts followed, calling me spiteful, impertinent, etc and I would ‘do well to remember that she is the victim in all this’  She doesn’t consider the harassment she is causing me for just living my own life in my own home by recording me, playing it to others and invading my privacy.
    I have had no communication with her since.

    She did write a long rambling email to the Committee, complaining that she has been accused of complaining but she doesn’t complain, just brings issues to everyone’s attention.

    I agree that with Covid, people are certainly at home more but unfortunately apartment blocks aren’t monasteries. Having showers, flushing toilets, watching tv and walking on my floorboards (which were already installed prior to me buying the apartment) are certainly not unreasonable activities.

    #61031
    IFSydney
    Flatchatter

    What makes this tricky is that it’s all up to her- if she’s going to be a difficult neighbour, there’s not much you can do about it. I agree with others that it’s probably Covid stress – which means she’s just looking for an outlet for her frustrations.

    I think all you can really do here is deescalate, whatever that means. Maybe smooth things over with her any way you can, just to make things more bearable for you. You can’t really deal with people like that and win, you know?

    #61034
    spmanager
    Flatchatter

    Monique10 I think you have handled the situation as well as you can. Your neighbour has the issue not you.

    The OC should not pay for a quote or works that, is at its core a private matter.

    Jimmy I did want to see if the Wikipedia reference would get a response, may an argument has sunk on the reef called Wikipedia

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