Grouchy rude neighbours downstairs

30 posts in this topic

Hi all,

 

My first post on this website. I'm looking for advice.

 

Back story: I'm a twenty-something guy, been in the Hauptstadt for a few years, and I just moved in with my German boyfriend. We're in a nice (top-floor) flat in a certain trendy Bezirk of Eastern Berlin in which the bf's already been living for a year.

 

I'm used to bad-tempered, strange old Germans, and that's good because this building is full of them - staring suspiciously on the stairs, purposefully not replying to a "Guten morgen", "Hallo" or a polite nod, watching intently from their Hof-facing balconies as we stuff our IKEA boxes in the bins ... That's their right, I get that.

 

The problem is with the couple directly beneath us. They're probably in their late fifties / early sixties. I've said hello a couple of times and got the usual dark, angry, slightly confused stares in return. Anyway, they are obsessed with our noise. The woman has been up a couple of times to complain. Once directly after I moved in and we were putting furniture together (this in the middle of the day on a Thursday), once to say we were stomping round our apartment in shoes on a day when we had been out all day and nobody was in our apartment!

 

We listened to her complaints politely, and say we try and be as quiet as we can, but we know this isn't really about the noise. We are actually really quiet, don't listen to loud music, never walk around in shoes, haven't had a party yet, don't watch TV and go to bed pretty early (wow, this list actually seems a little sad(!)) I think they're very lucky to have people like us living above them.

 

So the cruncher was last Friday. It was 9:30 pm, and my boyfriend and I are having a drink. He says something daft, and I chase him around the table to tickle him. Our energetic dash around the table probably lasted about 45 seconds. That was it. Within seconds our buzzer is going crazy and there is literal pounding on the door. We're shocked, and decide not to answer because we'd prefer to avoid what seems like aggression. It goes on, so together we answer the door to the big, cross old man from downstairs.

 

"Are you finished with your sex games now or what?"

 

My boyfriend says (a little riled) "Excuse me?"

 

"Are you finished with your sex games? Because it's late and people have to work and people are trying to sleep and there are children in this building and the floors are made of wood." He says. When we tell him "It's not late, and it's Friday, and it was noise that lasted about a minute, and children make a lot more noise then we do." He says, "Children are not as heavy as you" and goes on angrily huffing and puffing. We say he's being aggressive and he retorts "Are you being cheeky with me?". We say goodnight and gradually close the door as he turns around and goes back downstairs.

 

It doesn't sound like much, but it was horrible. He was so rude, and slyly, nastily homophobic. Now I definitely don't want to tiptoe around my flat (I don't believe bullies should win), but I definitely want nothing more to do with either of them. We though about leaving them a polite letter saying we're sorry that they felt disturbed, but if they want to talk to us about noise again they have to be respectful, polite and calm (and maybe reminding them that Lärmschutz starts at 22:00) - but we scrapped that idea because I don't want to start a weird letter exchange. We thought about ignoring them if they ring our doorbell again, or smilingly answering the door in our underpants ...

 

This post has gone on too long now. Does anyone have any sensible advice?

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get a flashy decibel meter app for your phone and next time he comes knocking bamboozle him with technojargon,blah blah, deutshe larm schutze institute blah blah mess protokol blah blah verbunden blah recht protokol gespieched blah blah official blah blah.You might scare him off.

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It sounds to me like the neighbour is jealous of you apparently getting something that he isn´t!

Just in case things escalate out of all proportion, I wonder if you have joined a Mietverein yet? If not, it would be a good idea to do so...

 

Get talking to the other neighbours - maybe he has always been a grumpy old git(?)

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Complain to your Hausverwaltung. Your boyfriend is probably paying a multiple of the rent Mr and Mrs Grumpy Git are, so the HV should be on your side. And if the builders skimped on soundproofing when they added your flat onto the building (which is what I assume happened), that's the landlord's problem, not yours. You shouldn't have to put up with any rubbish from the neighbors because of it.

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"Are you finished with your sex games now or what?"

 

"Nee noch nicht ganz, bring deine Olle hier mit hoch und wir können dann wieder anfangen..."

 

EDIT: Just seen you're two guys, then "...bring deine Sado-Maso-Sammlung hier hoch..."

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Complain to the Hausverwaltung about Old Geezer pounding on your door at all hours and lying about you making noise. Two can play the pressure game, and if you get your complaint in first he will sound like a crank. You did the right thing in talking to him reasonably; try to not escalate things face to face.

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What a waste to have such great wood floors without tap shoes!!!

 

and then play twister, but in a wonderful, ticklish way!!

 

Then, jump in jacks, hopscotch and then babysit my little hund, who loves running back in forth. (don't worry, I will let his nails grow out for this special evening.)

 

Then let my son hang out who is growing at such a fast rate that he doesn't realize how flipping loud he is walking....

 

Then, they will beg you to return to your sex games.

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We thought about ignoring them if they ring our doorbell again, or smilingly answering the door in our underpants ...

 

Both fantastic ideas. The former was actually what I was going to suggest anyway.

 

It seems pretty clear they don't want to be your friends, and won't want to be, no matter how quiet you are--apparent from the way they've chosen to approach you from the start. There is a certain kind of grumpy, pushy old git in this town who will take a mile if given an inch. Whatever course of action you take, don't bother being conciliatory. They sound as if they are highly likely to take it as a sign of weakness, that with enough assholish behavior they can make you back down from anything.

 

I realize that sounds more confrontational that is strictly necessary, but with some kinds of obsessive, neurotic meddlers you've got to fight fire with fire. They will have to go to a lot of effort to get someone to come around to your place and threaten you with a fine or try to take the issue to court. Eventually they will get tired of bothering you and just learn to live with it.

 

NB: we successfully got Mormons to stop coming to our house by answering the door half naked and drunk. By "we" I mean "me", and by our house, I mean the one I shared with three other early 20-somethings, where we for some reason had a Mormon problem, I think it's because they had a church at the end of our block. This will work even better if your neighbors are indeed homophobic and not just gaycist, as the sight of two scantily clad men grinning at them from the other side of the threshold is likely to give them nightmares they're not likely to want to revisit.

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Sounds annoying, to say the least.

 

I recently moved into an apartment in a less trendy part of Neukölln, and my wife and I have had two separate comments from neighbors about our noise. We are actually really quiet: my wife is away for work at the moment most of the week, we only walk around in socks, we don't have parties, I actually mostly listen to TV with headphones (!!) etc. On top of that our neighbors are actually loud themselves. Our theory is that this is an old established apartment block, where most of the people have lived here for a long time )and are pretty old) and aren't used to change, and part of the reason for their complaints was to find out who we were. Also the people we are subletting from weren't here a lot so the noise probably has gone up since we've arrived.

 

The comment about sex is clearly homophobic, and disturbing, but I could imagine chasing your bf around the table was pretty audible to the apartment downstairs. In an old apartment I used to be able to follow the four year old upstairs each time as he ran from room to room.

 

One strategy I've found quite affective here and in other situations is to simply knock on the neighbors door, say you really concerned that you've been disturbing them, and ask if you can test out what they can hear. We did this last weekend with my wife in the downstairs apartment while I stomped around the apartment, closed doors, played music at different levels. It was surprising what was audible (closing the doors made a loud noise) and what was not (music could be played much louder than I realized). The point isn't really to change your noise levels too much, but more to show that you care enough that the neighbors find it hard to create an us-against-them situation.

 

Anyway it may be that it's not something you want to fix. I am not sure if I had homophobic neighbors I would want to.

 

On a side note: I remember living in Magdeburg where the apartment beneath us became a squat. Our neighbours would turn on the music LOUD continuously around lunchtime to the point that my wife desk would vibrate as she was trying to write her thesis. She'd go down stairs and ask the squatters to turn it down and be greeted with vague drugged out stares, and if the music was ever turned down it was turned back up after about half an hour. It was only when the police started visiting for unrelated reasons that they cleared out and we got silence again. So I guess the alternative is to turn up the music really loud so they know what to complain about.

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haven't had a party yet,

 

When I lived in Stuttgart I planned a poker party and left letters on all my neighbors doors letting them know it was going to be loud. If it got too loud for them, to please come to my door and let me know. The party went on until the wee hours of the morning and noone knocked on the door. I think forwarning them before your party will pay huge dividends.

 

Okay, back on topic. Buy a rug.

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Don't apologise to them ever again. Angry old germans will take this as a sign of weakness. Seriously this board is littered with thread about angry unreasonable neighbours and I don't think a single person got anywhere by apologising. Take the fight to them, either complain about them now or the next time they come to you banging on the door tell them you are going to complain about their harassment to Hausverwaltung. Once they realise youaren't a pushover you may actually get some peace.

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Cheers to everyone who replied. After reading my post, I was expecting more of a “suck it up” response, so it’s been good to read what you all said.

 

I reckon we should go with the sarabyrd, dessa_dangerous and Wizadora schools of thought. We won’t change a thing, and we’ll send an e-mail or letter to the Hausverwaltung to explain exactly what happened. I don’t really want to complain or start an argument – I can’t actually be bothered and I reckon they’d enjoy the whole thing anyway – but it would be good to have something official to refer back to if this does get worse.

 

The stupid thing is, if they had said nicely that they were suffering from the noise I would have offered to listen to it from their flat. But this is just so obviously not about that.

 

Thanks again. I feel a bit daft for letting this get to me. Now to think about how to word the tickling part of the story in the Hausverwaltung email …

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We though about leaving them a polite letter saying we're sorry that they felt disturbed, but if they want to talk to us about noise again they have to be respectful, polite and calm (and maybe reminding them that Lärmschutz starts at 22:00)

 

I'd think this is a good idea (even though from the sound of things you have no reason to apologise) but to be honest, I don't think it would change a thing, they seem to not you or more than likely seem to not like gays, so no matter what you do, thy will probably always find a reason to complain.

 

But the most important thing is, if they want to talk about it, that you be respectful, polite and calm, even if they aren't

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Don't let it get to you. And don't go into too much detail regarding the tickling in your letter to the Hausverwaltung.

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Don't apologise to them ever again. Angry old germans will take this as a sign of weakness. Seriously this board is littered with thread about angry unreasonable neighbours and I don't think a single person got anywhere by apologising.

 

Agree with this. How does the old saying go.. the Hun is either at your throat or at your feet. Berlin needs to do something about the grumpy old git problem. A large camp just outside city limits perhaps?

 

Go on the offensive by taking it eine Etage above them.. ie write to the Hausverwaltung and say you are being harrassed, and stress that you are not making undue noise, that you respect the Hausordnung, the Ruhezeiten and all that stuff (they like to hear all that, it's what their job and mission in life is all about).

 

It does sound like they've got it in for you, so no matter what you do, no matter if you creep around on tiptoe, they will always be looking for something to get you for, whatever they can find.

 

But stay "sachlich" with the grumpy old gits. Don't lose your temper or go in for tit for tat measures, because this only gives them ammo to use against you in turn.

 

Keep it sachlich, ordentlich and legal and you have the best chance of winning out against them.

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Agree with this. How does the old saying go.. the Hun is either at your throat or at your feet. Berlin needs to do something about the grumpy old git problem. A large camp just outside city limits perhaps?

 

What a load of bullshit. Do you really believe channeling Churchill is a good way of getting on with your neighbors in Berlin?

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If they have a balcony below yours, make sure you sprinkle some glitter down there once a week. It might just drive the old geezer over the edge.

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This makes me sick – and the sad thing, not surprised. I'm so disgusted of people like this – and they are EVERYWHERE. People here claim that Americans are so nice its fake – but here you get the utter opposite. People think they are justified to have every bad mood in the book, and promptly let everyone around them know – it's sick. I got chewed out the other day for apparently not vacuuming my doormat! The best you can do is just ignore them – they will always feel they are in the right, and there's no way in the world that will convince them otherwise. If he continues with his homophobic antics (and based on the conversation you described he most definitely is) you can always report him to the police – they probably won't effect anything, other than the guy getting pretty embarrassed, which is always a plus. He's probably upset that he hasn't yet gotten laid this century.

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