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Dear PoPville – Noise Problems in a divided rowhouse

by Prince Of Petworth September 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm 59 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user caroline.angelo

“Dear PoPville,

I live in a recently-renovated rowhouse (2006), which was divided into two units, first being the upper two floors (where I live) and the other being a English basement, which is leased to another tenant. My roommates and I have been having problems with sharing a floor/ceiling with our downstairs neighbors since moving-in. Despite our best efforts at maintaining peace with them, they hate our guts. Apparently, the floors are paper-thin and they can hear every word we say when we’re home. Their bedroom is directly below our living room. We’re not ridiculous with the noise – just watch TV, chat with friends, occasionally have people over for drinks and that’s about it. They’ve even complained to our landlord, who’s sent us an email to keep it down, even though I feel like we’re not being unreasonable with the noise levels.

I should also mention that we’ve made a good faith effort at controlling the noise. We have a no-shoes policy on the first floor, laid down pretty much wall-to-wall carpets and limit gatherings after 10 PM on every night of the week. It’s also worth mentioning that the landlord didn’t mention that there was a separate basement apartment until we were deep into the leasing process (aka, about to sign the lease and it was not visible on the outside during the tour) and there was no mentioning of noise issues between the units until the neighbor told me about it.

Is this issue common with renovated rowhouses? If not, is there anything the landlord can do, like install soundproofing insulation? I’m paying good money to live in this house and would like to enjoy living here instead of worrying about walking on eggshells with the neighbors. We haven’t even held our housewarming because we’re afraid of having the neighbors complain to the landlord again. Are we just supposed to not use the living room?”

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