Rental Dementia: Floored

Written by Brian Carter on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Posts.

I have a great rental apartment. My girlfriend found it after scouring our neighborhood for two weeks. We obviously didn’t pay a broker’s fee. That would be silly. It’s a good size one bedroom, corner unit, which gets beautiful morning light. The kitchen is small, but we have great closet space, and it’s a short block to the train. It’s also cheap by today’s standards. Of all the apartments I have had in NYC, this one is by far my favorite. I’d say it’s ideal except for one major problem: my downstairs neighbor.
They moved in a few months ago and started off the relationship by slipping a note under our door. It was a Monday morning, and I remember this because we had been away all weekend. They complained about the noise and wanted to know if our apartment was properly carpeted. They left a number to call, and being the courteous neighbor that I am, I called that morning.
I was pretty certain that we were a few square feet shy of having our apartment 80 percent carpeted. But we were close. More to the point, we hadn’t been in our apartment all weekend, so it couldn’t have been us making the noise. I left a message explaining all of this, adding that if by chance we were responsible, we would do our best to keep it down.
Two nights later, he of the crazy couple made an appearance at our door. We were cooking dinner and not holding auditions for Stomp, as he made it seem. It was just the two of us quietly enjoying the early evening. We hadn’t caused any undue noise, but I told him that we would look into new carpets, as our floors were a little old. Saturday afternoon he came up again for another chat while we were preparing to walk our small dog. By this point though, I was over it. We weren’t jazzercising. There was no loud music. We weren’t hanging pictures. His huge ears were somehow capable of hearing my every move from below, but he couldn’t catch a thing when I began yelling at him. I had to tell him three times that we were not renovating or banging and that whatever he was hearing was clearly not coming from us.
Although my girlfriend was well aware of this, she understood his point as well and agreed that we needed do something. I was convinced that he was an unreasonable and miserable complainer who clearly derived some warped satisfaction from these bi-weekly visits. He was obsessed with our floors and would stop me in front of the building to talk about it. But she couldn’t recognize the demon that lived below us. Even now, I think she just wanted new carpets. I know he’s a crumb, or crazy or something and I know too that I have as much right to the quiet enjoyment of my apartment as he does. Why should I walk on eggshells for fear of my idiot neighbor and his constant complaints?
Eventually, the poor bastard proved me right. We installed the new freaking carpets. I went down to his apartment to assure him that the trouble was over. But it wasn’t. In fact, the problems were just beginning. Another letter was soon shoved under my door, this time threatening to contact the management company. Our new carpets had failed to satisfy them. War had been declared.
They took to banging on our ceiling when we acted up, for instance anytime we walked across our carpeted living room. I waited until the banging stopped and then slammed a shoe as hard as I could on our uncarpeted area … repeatedly. This went on for a while until I got bored and went down to his door. But you know how these cowards operate. He never answered. I did get a chance to explain to his neighbors where all of the new noise was coming from. It was infuriating, and I spent many late nights plotting my revenge.
Finally, our super was told to inspect my apartment. He came up unannounced at 9 a.m. I welcomed him in and showed him our new carpet. He suggested I call the management company and notify them that I am indeed in compliance with the lease. He was simply looking around, when Downstairs-Dumbo decided to throw another tantrum. I was on the phone with the building manager, and he could hear all of the commotion through the phone. My point was finally proved, and every sane person involved (even my girlfriend) now agrees that I have a lunatic living beneath me. A week ago the building manager also inspected our apartment. We are currently waiting for his verdict.
In the meantime I’ve stopped walking on eggshells. I’m not worrying about any kind of excessive noise. In fact, I’ve taken to wearing cowboy boots and doing the foxtrot on the 20 percent of hardwood floors I still have left. You’d be surprised how loud 20 percent can be.