When the Downstairs Neighbor Complains About Your Kid

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neighbor's noise complaints
Mr. Heckles, the downstairs neighbor character from the 1990’s sitcom Friends.
 
When we first came home with our newborn, his newborn cry wasn’t louder than our speaking voice. Now that he’s two, he howls with the dogs and stomps like an elephant. It would be fine if we lived out in the country, but we live in San Francisco—in a duplex, on the top floor.

We’ve done our best to minimize the noise level, especially when my son wakes up early, but this has been unsatisfactory for our neighbor downstairs. Learning to walk, then learning to run, sleep regressions, daylight savings time, you name it; they have all been reasons our downstairs neighbor has expressed dissatisfaction with us. Once, my son woke up at 4:00 AM crying inconsolably at the top of his lungs and threw everything out of his crib, essentially right on top of the neighbor’s sleeping head. Understandably, our downstairs neighbor did not appreciate the chaos— but the issue is that there’s not much we can do about it. 

We follow the law that states 80% of the apartment must be covered by carpet. We obviously try our best to keep quiet until 7:00 AM, per the noise ordinance. We try to read books or play with puzzles until the sun comes up. We don’t let him play with balls before 8:00 AM, and we try to prevent him from running as much as possible. We really do try.

Doing our best to stay quiet has caused us so much anxiety—the emails our neighbor sends us and the constant worry that she’ll ring the doorbell or bang on her ceiling have been pure harassment. At this point, we’ve decided to just ignore her because we’re doing all we can to reduce the noise. At the end of the day, our child is two and has a mind of his own, on his noise level. Kids will make noise and this issue isn’t new in choosing to live the city life. 

As my son gets older, he’ll understand more about when it is and is not okay to make noise. Until then, here are a few things we’ve done to help reduce noise or make things better with our neighbor. You can try them, too:

  • Make sure to have at least 80% of your floors covered with carpet. 
  • Be mindful of the noise ordinance law that requires a quiet period from 10:00 PM to 7:00 AM.
  • Also, know that this law may not apply to children (I have yet to find a reliable source to confirm this for sure, though).
  • Encourage quiet play in the mornings by redirecting your child to quiet toys or reading books. 
  • Keep your child in a room that’s not above your neighbor’s bedroom until at least 7:00 AM.
  • Fill your neighbors with kindness! 
  • You can offer them a gift like wine or coffee as a peace offering.
  • You can offer them a white noise machine, headphones, or earplugs.
  • Then, let your neighbor’s complaints roll off your back; you’re doing the best you can. You’re not asking your child to stomp or cry.
  • Try mediation; my neighbor didn’t want to. If you’re renting, call your landlord so they can help mediate the situation. The San Francisco Rent Board also offers a mediation service between tenants—so that might be worth pursuing if the issue continues.
  • Document all instances of their complaints, what time your child was up, and what they were doing, just in case you need it later 
  • Don’t start browsing Craigslist for a new apartment unless you have other reasons to move. You have the right to live there with your child.

And for a laugh, please watch this movie

Anonymous
The author of this article chose to keep her name private… just in case her neighbor reads this.

28 COMMENTS

  1. Waking at 4 am crying at the top of his lungs, then throwing everything out of crib. You should have immediately removed the baby to another room, then apologized profusely. You’re not the only people living and paying rent there. Put yourself in some one else’s shoes. Just because you have a baby in an apt doesn’t give you the right to disturb others! Maybe you should look for a first floor apt or house to rent. As you are obviously disturbing and stressing out your poor downstairs neighbor who doesn’t know when the loud thuds, screaming or other sudden noises are coming. Do you know what it is like to be constantly scared by un announced noise? My neighbors harassed the hell out of me, dropping things suddenly. It caused my French bulldog to be hiding under my bed all the time, shaking scared. What you are doing is wrong. It causes some one to be put into a constant state of vigilance and fight or flight. When is the next noise?! Please just be quiet! If you can’t, then move! You are in the wrong here.

    • Looks like a Karen made the last post. I’m sure they moved to another room to console their terrified child, however There is absolutely no way one can determine when a toddler will wake up in the middle of the night. When it does happen, a parent can get there as soon as they can but unless you are The Flash, that first scream/noise that occurs when a kid wakes up unexpectedly, can be stopped by no one. Random noises startle everyone, including the parents and a grouchy person adding to that by banging on the ceiling/wall doesn’t help the situation. Multi family living is just that. Squeezing multiples FAMILIES, in close quarters, to live. So when you live in an apartment, you get what you get. If you want quiet, move to a nursing home or buy a house, otherwise, find a way to cope and understand what comes with the territory.

    • Girl BYE‼️ if you or anyone else in a shared living space (apartment) want complete SILENCE & peace THEN MOVE INTO A HOUSE. When you live around others be prepared Wtf! Your not required to move into a home once you start having children 🤔 you just pissed me off

      • Absolutely right!!! A building with 12 units of family’s and people expected to have quiet when they choice a bottom floor! I’m either move your ass in a house or mover you ass to the top floor!

    • Lmao it boggles me that PPL ( grown ups ) forget we were all children once, and I’m sorry but you’re mean af for having them move. You think she didn’t obsess on how to NOT bother the neighbor?? With their GROWING child? You only have a dog, how the hell you think the baby felt? Or the mother? So we have to advocate over ur DOG? But you can’t do it for the mom and her toddler child who cannot yet speak or comprehend the difference of quiet and considerate time? And just so you get a clue, dogs are resilient and go off THE OWNERS energy, calm the hell down. Everyone INCLUDING the parents and LEASING office should KNOW, what’s the come, ANYONE without kids? Should move to the top fucking floor so they don’t have someone “ “over them” making noise. If she has to move? Then guess what, MAYBE you should seek for your peace and move too wtf. You rather bitch and complain instead of realizing “HEY, I live in a BUILDING apartment where there’s ppl on top and all around me”. It irritates me ppl wanna DECIDE to live with other ppl then complain man. I personally blame the construction, they didn’t use proper insulation and sound proofing it’s ridiculous everyone’s peace is compromised and the worst thing the mother not only trying with the children have to fkn consider a person they haven’t even met and know about because they are whining annoying ass people. Not even the balls to be like “hey I love downstairs I hear a lot of noise” blah blah, but nah they wanna complain to the leasing office

    • Eww you totally sound like a Susan. Yes, let us all who have babies move far away, preferably to the middle of the woods as to not bother anyone. Get real, Susan. If the sound is bothering you that much, YOU should move out. This is coming from someone with extreme anxiety and bipolar disorder and also anxious dogs.

    • I agree Susan! People forget that the “Right to Quiet Enjoyment” is a tenant’s legal right (yes that is a legal covenant/statute that exists across all states-Please look it up if you’re unfamiliar with it). The weak argument that people should move elsewhere if they don’t want to hear incessant noise is asinine; You can’t make excessive noise that disturbs neighbors in neighborhoods with fully-detached single-family homes. Noise complaints can still be made in those cases. You are agreeing to be considerate of others when you sign a lease for a semi-shared living space like an apartment. Parents who have a problem with redirecting their children or providing them with other forms of constructive play should strive to provide them with an actual home instead of raising them in an apartment with limited space, no yard for play, attached neighbors, etc.

  2. I’m sure they moved to another room to console their terrified child, however There is absolutely no way one can determine when a toddler will wake up in the middle of the night. When it does happen, a parent can get there as soon as they can but unless you are The Flash, that first scream/noise that occurs when a kid wakes up unexpectedly, can be stopped by no one. Random noises startle everyone, including the parents and a grouchy person adding to that by banging on the ceiling/wall doesn’t help the situation. Multi family living is just that. Squeezing multiples FAMILIES, in close quarters, to live. So when you live in an apartment, you get what you get. If you want quiet, move to a nursing home or buy a house, otherwise, find a way to cope and understand what comes with the territory.

  3. Looks like a Karen made the last post. I’m sure they moved to another room to console their terrified child, however There is absolutely no way one can determine when a toddler will wake up in the middle of the night. When it does happen, a parent can get there as soon as they can but unless you are The Flash, that first scream/noise that occurs when a kid wakes up unexpectedly, can be stopped by no one. Random noises startle everyone, including the parents and a grouchy person adding to that by banging on the ceiling/wall doesn’t help the situation. Multi family living is just that. Squeezing multiples FAMILIES, in close quarters, to live. So when you live in an apartment, you get what you get. If you want quiet, move to a nursing home or buy a house, otherwise, find a way to cope and understand what comes with the territory.

    • The baby is not at fault, nor are the parents. The landlord is the problem. Whatever tenant was there first should have been considered when renting the empty level.

      Never place a family with small children over a person without children. Keep it similar. A family with kids may tolerate noise from a family with similar kids. Place the elderly together, young singles together unless you have well-insulated apartments.

  4. I disagree. Everyone asks or states that everyone needs to be understanding to those with kids. And having kids is difficult for sure and especially during the pandemic. BUT. It’s your life. No one needs to have their life disturbed by unreasonable and excessive noise. Now I am not speaking about a baby crying at night bc like a dog barking, sometimes it just happens. But endless running and screaming? It’s your responsibility to get thick padding and carpet and yes, even try to shush screaming – even when it’s unsuccessful. yes, it’s a lot and you are stressed from being a parent but you get the benefits too and have the expectation everyone has to understand – they don’t – your life is disrupting and infringing on theirs. apologize to your neighbors, let them know you are getting thicker pads and cover the hallways with thick pads and runners. They pay rent and deserve to have their peace.

  5. -Canada BC. I am currently studying Strata Property Management. Due to the pandemic, my parents and I are home all day. Our upstairs neighbor has a 3 year old who stays 3 days of the week but the stomping at times is unbearable. I would honestly support a bylaw that would require young children to be in school or day care during the day if you live in a unit above ground level.

  6. If your child is stomping back and forth, back and forth between 11pm and 7am. Your parenting skill dont work point blank period. As a child that can remember to the age of three, if I was doing that my father would have beat the brakes off me. Get your kid in line and if it is that bad get him therapy to see why the child has a constant need to go go go. I was a runner and yeller as a child, but my parents installed very quickly that such behaviour was inappropriate in public.

  7. Yeah well it’s ILLegal to discriminate against families with children! So you all will just have to suck it up or MOVE to your own house in the Burbs! It’s called life in the big city! Quiet hours are from 10pm to 7am in SF. The police won’t come out for a noise complaint unless it’s between those hours and all they do is tell you to try keep it down. I have downstairs neighbors who used to ring my doorbell incessantly and even threw rocks at the window to complain about noise. Become familiar with the laws around housing where you live and let your landlord know about the harassment. After we told them we would be getting a restraining order if their behavior continued they mostly calmed down. You don’t need to start beating your kids into submission or going to bed at 10pm. Document their actions and then just try and not let if affect your happiness.
    You guys act like people with kids are giving them pots and pans to bang at all hours! And talk about the shoe on the other foot, realize that if you lived on the upstairs floor, your neighbors would hear you too! We were cracking up the other day bc we could hear the neighbor farting in their bathroom! I try to respect the quiet hours but honestly it just gets ridiculous and some neighbors will NEVER be happy! And they are quiet hours, not SILENT hours! Live and Let Live people!

  8. I am going through this with my downstairs neighbor. I have two special needs grandchildren and their schedule is not always everyone else’s. My neighbor complained that they were woken up an hour ago. At least they got sleep. I have been up 21 hours and counting. I gave him my number previously for a water issue, if he needed to get a hold of me but uses it to complain about the children which are 22 months and 5. I live with these children and I have learned to sleep through it. The neighbor said he was getting headphones and obviously he is not wearing them. I explained that I refuse to put the children on any medication for sleep as per my pediatricians recommendation that they are too young for anything like that. As us adults to get rest, sometimes its best for us to make adjustments. My neighbor is great and I told him to message any time he needs to. This allows him to communicate, make it known and its up to me to return his message which I do and very promptly at that, he also has the choice to try to move to another apartment building if its available. I also am realistic in my message, this last one being he said there was banging. I said there is no banging but I can remove my granddaughters toys from her room before bed and as for boy bouncing with his squeaky springs on his brand new crib, I cannot help that. I can’t tie the child down ya know? So its made known, I try to come up with a solution to help him feel better and I do say what I am actually going to do.

  9. If you can’t parent your child you need to move to a first floor. Kids running on the ceiling can be stopped parents are just lazy. Put Legos,pillows, ball pit balls or other items down and they will stop running. Put your child in another room not above your neighbors bed and the minute you kid started whaling you should have got up and stopped it before they trashed the floor. Do what ever it takes because the fact is your polluting your neighbors apartment with your noise. The. Best way to deal with people like you is to turn up the stereo each time you take advantage of the neighbors kindness and drown the sound from above out and let the second floor experience the bass numbing sound pollution of there apartment. Magically done enough and the upstairs apartment find solutions. There is plenty you could do like getting gym mats to put on the floor and then carpet runners but again it’s not bothering you so you don’t care. You should never give your child a ball in any apartment much less a second floor apartment to bounce across the floor. Balls are for outside quit being lazy and take your kid outside to play ball.
    Maybe I’m a bit harsh but I have a nightmare upstairs neighbor who thinks it’s ok for her 2yr old to run from 6:15 am to 9:30 pm over 175 times down a 30ft hallway that goes from the first bedroom past the master bedroom to the back door and wakes up every room in the house. And this doesn’t include how she smokes every four hours when he wakes up and lets him run the apartment for 15 minutes while she’s on the balcony puffing away at 12 and 4 am. I’m so sick of people who have zero respect for others. I have kids too and we homeschool amd we can’t even do zoom classes because of the thunder money running our ceiling. Either move or stop it! Don’t start before 9 am because even
    If we just got up we just listened to your thunder monkey for 16 hours the day befor and we would like to enjoy some peace and quiet. I treat my upstairs neighbor with the same respect she treats me with which is zero. Her kid catapults over the side of the crib when he wakes up slamming in the middle of the floor like Bruce Jenner when vanity affair arrives scaring the bejesus out of me and giving me the worst adrenaline rush ever and no sleep after that!

    Keep your thunder monkeys quiet or don’t expect us to show you anything but the same respect you show us!

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