Feedback on a letter to my upstairs neighbor (noise)

I’m looking to get folks’ feedback on how this letter would come across to a stranger. Depending on the feedback, I’ll either send it as-is, edit the tone, or pursue another option. Hopefully, the letter spells out all the context you should need. If not, let me know.

Thanks for your help.

Dear Upstairs Neighbor,

I regret to inform you that the sound and vibration of your footsteps carries through your floor into my apartment so much that it literally shakes my windows in their frames. Given the (early/late) hours you keep, my girlfriend and I have even been woken up by your steps.

I need to stress that I don’t blame you or find you at fault in any malicious way. I acknowledge that hearing your neighbors is part of living in an apartment building and the effect your normal behavior has on my apartment is most likely due to less-than-first-rate construction by Moss & Co.

Nonetheless, there is an above-average impact being made and was wondering if you’d be amenable to a casual conversation about what is happening and figuring out how me might be able to address it together. If you’re up for that, give me a call at xxx-xxx-xxxx at your convenience and we can find a time that is convenient for you.

If, on the other hand, you simply don’t care, that would be good for me to know as well.



If you’ve never discussed it before, the last line about them potentially not caring comes across as combative. I also totally understand writing and leaving it to them to call you, because confrontation scares me too, but it’s passive aggressive to complain and then expect them to make the first real move to talk about it.

Finally, I don’t know if you want to put an insult toward the builder in writing. This may not help you later.

Just MHO.

Good to know, thanks.

What do you suggest? I don’t have their phone number, and I don’t want to just show up at some point when they might be in the middle of something. From my perspective, this letter is the first real move to talk about it.

My first reaction is that it’s way too long. You don’t need to explain yourself or tend to their precious feelings. Just politely explain that they’re loud and ask them to quiet down. I think something like the following would do much better:

Buy 'em a rug.

Friedo is right. The note in the OP is way too long and has a tone that is kind of strange. His version is much better: simple and neutral.

I think a conversation will turn out much better than a letter. Just start out “do you have a few minutes to talk?” if not, ask when a better time would be. If you can invite them in for a beer or tea or whatever, so much the better.

If it makes you feel better, I live in a college apartment, and the girls above me seem to almost constantly run laps around the apartment. While wearing heels.

Reading the letter, I have to ask, do you actually expect the person to call you? Because, to me, your letter says “I am thinly veiling my complaining with politeness, so please call me, because I’d like to complain at you some more”. I’d read the note, and try to be quieter, but fuck if I’m going to call some stranger leaving me passive-aggressive notes. Oh, hell no. I don’t want them to have my number so they can call me every time they want to bitch (not saying you would do that, but just that I would expect it).

Really, if the only problem is that they need to stop stomping around, a simple request without need for contact back is fine. If the problem continues, a chat may be warranted, but at this point, what purpose does a dialogue serve?

What we ask tenants to do in apartment buildings that our property management company looks after is to call us. That way we can send the noisy people a letter, and they don’t know who made the complaint. We always tell tenants not to take on anything that might end up being confrontational. That’s our job.

The first letter is usually a pleasant one, so it’s not like we come on in attack mode, either.

So, have you talked to your property manager/landlord/building caretaker? Maybe try those people first.

If you don’t want to do that, I’d go with the short, natural and pleasant note **friedo **suggested.

I’m glad I posted to the group, my intentions weren’t coming through at all.

The letter wasn’t intended to be passive aggressive, it was a genuine invitation to dialogue. I thought that mutual respectful dialogue would be better than a simple complaint from a stranger.

In this instance especially, I’m sure this person doesn’t feel like he’s “stomping,” so much as “walking normally in his home” and a completely natural reaction would be: “So what do you want me to do?! Float above the floor?? Walk on tiptoes everywhere I go?? Fuck you buddy!”

To be clear, you’re in the anti-dialogue camp?

Well I have already brought the situation up with the management. They basically said, *“You know it’s an apartment building right, and you’re going to hear your neighbors. What do you want us to tell them? Stop walking around?” *They said they’d give the person a call, but I can say that nothing has changed since that time.

I want to stress that the problem here isn’t what to do with a person that’s partying or making an racket. It’s what to do with a person who (I believe) is simply heavy on his feet.

Grow a pair and knock on their door.

Yeah, as long as you’re calm and polite and not hostile, the way to deal with this is face to face, at least at the beginning. It’s entirely possible that your upstairs neighbors think that they are being very quiet and considerate.

Unfortunately, some apartment buildings seems to be constructed in such a way that it’s almost impossible to be completely silent. A friend of mine lives in an older building, always has bare feet in his apartment, and is careful not to walk heavily, and yet he still gets complaints sometimes from the people below him.

While certain levels of noise, especially at certain hours, are unacceptable, the fact is that you probably have to learn to put up with some noise in an apartment building. It’s just not always possible, even with the very best of efforts, to be completely silent.

Go see 'em. No matter how politely you put it in writing, they’ll still read:

*Dear upstairs neighbor,

 Shut the fuck up, you noisy bastard!

 Your downstairs neighbor*

Try approaching it in person first. More difficult? Yes. More likely to achieve the results you desire? Probably.

So what do you expect him to do? I understand why the noise is a problem for you, but at the same time, I can’t think of any reasonable solution for someone who is a heavy walker (assuming, as you’ve indicated, the person is just walking, and not stomping around). It’s almost like complaining about someone’s snoring, y’know?

Yes, if that’s all it is*, I’m not sure there’s a solution that’s fair to him.
*I don’t mean to imply it’s minor TO YOU, but that’s it’s nothing outrageous on his part.

What are your expectations, Brad? Are you wanting the person to take more care when they walk around their home, or are you wanting the person to buy flooring that might muffle the noise?

I would try something subtle like this:

Dear Mr Flatley,

I wondered what you had been up to since Lord of the Dance and its followup flop…ah if only Riverdance could have run forever. Mind you I saw a performance once and it seemed to go on forever.

Apparently from the late night sounds that reverberate through my ceiling you, and a bunch of Irish tarts, are rehearsing some similar Celtic clodhopper pabulum, fortunately without the music. Had I heard any Uilleann Pipes, or any other of those dirge like instruments that pass for music where you come from, I would have already eviscerated the lot of you and would be sitting here enjoying the silence while regretting the smell.

But I digress, I offer to you an olive branch - simply shut the fuck up or one night someone could possibly pump a flammable liquid under your door and light it.

Neighbourly yours,

You’re clearly home at times when your neighbor is home. Pick one of those times to go knock on his door.