How to deal with inconsiderate loud neighbours

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My partner lives in a rented flat on the ground floor of a block of flats in Nuremberg and above him lives a couple with a 1–1.5 year-old daughter. I  will from now on refer to my partner's as "our" flat even if it's not my official home yet – I am only visiting him for long periods of time (but I am permanently moving to Germany and this flat soon).

 

The problem is that these neighbours have been making way too much noise in the past few months. Below our windows and balcony, on the back of the house, there's a communal courtyard which includes some parking spaces for the building residents. A few months ago these neighbours, mostly the lady, have started taking the child to play in this courtyard right under our windows, and started taking up more and more space there as time goes by. They bring out all the child's toys and always leave some under our balcony, and spend a few hours there every day. Now, the child doesn't bother me as I know it's only a child. But there's two things that drive me insane:

 

1) this lady is extremely annoying. She is always loud, shouting on the building stairs or when she talks to her kid and her partner (she even shouts at him from the parking lot when he's upstairs in their first floor flat!) and her voice bounces on the building's walls, so between her voice and the echo I don't know what's more annoying. I am a writer and translator and when I work from this flat I honestly cannot concentrate every time she's out and shouts...

 

2) the use of communal space as if it belonged to them. Apart from the usual mountain of toys and child's playing carpet they pull out nearly every day, the table and the beach umbrella, today this lady got downstairs just after 4pm, and started dragging furniture out. I looked down the window and there's two sets of tables and benches (beergarten-style benches), high chairs and so on (I can attach a picture that I have just taken).

 

Do you think there's anything we can do to stop this? 

Thank you so much!

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Our communal playground is two meters from my windows (EG) so I can *really* sympathize - the parents are usually way way more annoying than the kids.

 

but it's community property - the area below your balcony is not "yours".  Unless there is another area farther from your balcony/windows where she could conceivably set up the kid(s) with all their toys and stuff...I doubt there's much you can do.  You could check your Hausordnung to see what the "rules" are for the common area (though remember kid activities are sacrosanct).  If that doesn't yield anything helpful, you could talk to the mieterverein about claiming a rent reduction due to noise, and depending on what they say, maybe you can take it up with your landlord.  My guess is this is not likely to be very fruitful but that's the best bet IMO. 

 

I've noticed, for myself, the times it's most unbearable is when I'm finding it unbearable.  Meaning, when I'm fixated on the noise.  In those cases I usually just put on some music, close the windows if need be, and do something other than try to sit quietly.  Clean, dance around, go for a walk.  Whatever.  The point is to break the fixation.  When I return I usually find it much less annoying, or in the best case they're already gone and it's truly quiet again.

 

good luck!

 

eta:  when she shouts you *could* ask her to not do that.  Her yelling up the side of the building is not a protected activity ;)   But more importantly, it may be that she has no idea how loud she is.  I've had good luck with some neighbors just talking to myself in a barely louder than usual voice.  The loud adults realize how much the sound carries and a few of them have really toned it down without having to say anything to them at all.

 

passive aggressive German style?  Why not, if it works :)

 

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The other option is to find a new flat before you move here and make sure there are no playgrounds, etc. under your windows. If you hate it now, you will hate it more when you live there full time. As far as I know, there is nothing you can do against kinder noise.

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She's right! Kiddie noise recently was defined in Germany as something you cannot sue about.

However, I was thinking more of misuse of shared property etc.

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Nope.  When we had some teenagers regularly partying in the playground I asked my Hausverwaltung if we could implement a cut off period for the playground starting at 8:00 pm based on the fact that most public playgrounds in Munich have implemented this kind of thing for the sake of neighbors who live *many* meters away...

 

nope.  Quiet hours don't start til 10:00 pm.  "Kids" have the right to play (or drink beer, smoke weed and blare shitty music on their cell phones, apparently) until 10:00. Suck it.

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2 hours ago, svalley said:

the use of communal space as if it belonged to them.

 

 

Key words - communal space. It does belong to them and you could probably also drag out some stuff down there for a barbecue or whatever but you choose not to do so.

 

 

34 minutes ago, lisa13 said:

You could check your Hausordnung to see what the "rules" are for the common area (though remember kid activities are sacrosanct).  If that doesn't yield anything helpful, you could talk to the mieterverein about claiming a rent reduction due to noise, and depending on what they say, maybe you can take it up with your landlord.  My guess is this is not likely to be very fruitful but that's the best bet IMO. 

 

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29 minutes ago, fraufruit said:

 

Thanks everyone for your replies!

 

I really want to point out that it's not the kid I'm complaining about – it's the mother :-) Lisa is right when she says that when the noise/loud talking happens I tend to get fixated on it, mostly because it happens when I am trying to work and it's not that I can just listen to music or leave for a long time... Also, the communal space is definitely not a playground, it's just a courtyard with some parking spaces so it's not meant to be a place specifically for kids to play. 

Anyway, I think I'll just try and talk to her in the next few days as some of you have suggested! Thanks so much again :)

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It can be frustrating to be the quiet self-contained sort, these days.   It can feel like everyone's riding roughshod over us and (as above) yes, sure, we can use the space to be just as disruptive but of course we are not.  It can feel like the noisy and disruptive getting a free ride, safe in the knowledge others won't give it back.  I feel it in many contexts.  One thing to check would be if the flat has a right to space directly outside.  If so, you may have noise reducing  / privacy options (plants etc). 

 

As lisa says, remember we are the privileged one.   We get to pursue your passions at home and flexibly.  They are probably getting up at 7am to flog for an employer, as well as having dependents 24/7.   Lucky us, huh?  Able to manage our lives in the privacy of our own homes.  There's definitely a holistic thing - most people behaving like that will never be writers or translators in control of their lives.  I definitely got more irritated since I spent more time at home.    The counterpoint is I meet them going out to the office when coming back from the 8am swim back to my nice cosy home or whatever.  

 

Shouty neighbours seem quite difficult to avoid with ground floor flats.   So many people just boom away, indifferent to a world around them.  

 

I'm prepared to up the ante and my neighbours know that.   Depends on what the exact  rules are but, if I get the "it's communal space", I just say "OK, so I'll buy a cheap old car and park it there, the rule of "we can do what we like" applies to me, just the same, and it is better for me to have my things outside my home than yours...and while I'm at it, I'll put my bike outside your door every night as well".   

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2 minutes ago, svalley said:

Thanks everyone for your replies!

 

I really want to point out that it's not the kid I'm complaining about – it's the mother :-) Lisa is right when she says that when the noise/loud talking happens I tend to get fixated on it, mostly because it happens when I am trying to work and it's not that I can just listen to music or leave for a long time... Also, the communal space is definitely not a playground, it's just a courtyard with some parking spaces so it's not meant to be a place specifically for kids to play. 

Anyway, I think I'll just try and talk to her in the next few days as some of you have suggested! Thanks so much again :)

 

be careful with the idea that "it's not a playground" or otherwise a "place for kids to play" - in general ANY public or shared space is a potential play area for kids, provided their play does not pose a danger to others (not sure about how danger to the kids is assessed).  I find it a bit mad for various reasons - not even totally selfish ones - but that's it.

 

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2 minutes ago, swimmer said:

As lisa says, remember we are the privileged one.   We get to pursue your passions at home and flexibly, they are probably getting up at 7am to flog for an employer, as well as having dependents 24/7.   Lucky us, huh?  Able to manage our lives in the privacy of our own homes.   I definitely got more irritated since I spent more time at home.    The counterpoint is that we see them going out to the office when we are coming back from the 8am swim back to our nice cosy homes or whatever.  

 

 

She's a stay at home mom so she's basically in the courtyard under my windows every day with the kid, shouting at her husband who's upstairs in their flat... <_<

I'm definitely, definitely more irritated since I started working from home. I have to say I am quite sensitive to loud noises and I have moved out of several flats in London because of inconsiderate flatmates :( so maybe it's me!!!

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1 minute ago, lisa13 said:

 

be careful with the idea that "it's not a playground" or otherwise a "place for kids to play" - in general ANY public or shared space is a potential play area for kids, provided their play does not pose a danger to others (not sure about how danger to the kids is assessed).  I find it a bit mad for various reasons - not even totally selfish ones - but that's it.

 

 

Thank you Lisa – I hadn't considered that!

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3 hours ago, svalley said:

I am a writer and translator and when I work from this flat I honestly cannot concentrate every time she's out and shouts...

 

 

Then I suggest to rent some nice quite office space to work. Starting to complain to the landlord, Hausverwaltung etc. will get you nowhere at the moment  – you are not living there, you are a guest. 

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1 hour ago, svalley said:

 

She's a stay at home mom so she's basically in the courtyard under my windows every day with the kid, shouting at her husband who's upstairs in their flat... <_<

I'm definitely, definitely more irritated since I started working from home. I have to say I am quite sensitive to loud noises and I have moved out of several flats in London because of inconsiderate flatmates :( so maybe it's me!!!

 

What you could do is start taking part in their yell-conversations.  I'm sure they will love your input.

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I think you have to break the habit of moving out when people annoy you, for sure.   That's not sustainable, like when people keep quitting jobs because they do not like the coworkers and bosses.    Arguably, moving in with someone will substantially increase the risk because we aren't likely to be randomly gifted what we need.     I think shouting upwards is something it is OK to deal with - they need to have conversations directly.  I think many people would just pop their head out of the window and say "hey, sssssshhhhhhh".

 

The suggestion of finding a place that suits you is therefore a good one.  Times have changed as well.  Birth rates going up, families with young kids seeking the urban life, not disappearing out to the burbs as was the case perhaps 20 years ago, and endless building renovations, party scenes, outdoor events and more.   Cities becoming busier and more noisy.    City life that many of us knew has blown away and its not coming back any time soon.  So we have to deal with that.

 

I've narrated I did it just because I find it all a bit wearing now.   We set up a smaller place in low density area, where it's quieter, the place is secluded at the end of a block.   We have very big communal gardens where people can do what they want and there's a kita (little kids' place).   Not that I +mind that anyway, but there's a big different between noise 50m away, and it being right on your doorstep.  

 

There are also obvious practical solutions.  In the other place, when next door starts the weekly loud garden process or the latest renovations or whatever kick in, I just use ear plugs. I think others plug into music or radio.   That's the reality of what many of us do.

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