Kids upstairs are running around and making noise

52 Replies

I have a two family and just rented out the upstairs to a couple with two young kids.  The husband has excellent references and has been paying the rent on time.  They want to live there long term and he has even done some improvements to his apartment because they want to make it a home.  So far they are great.

My problem is that the downstairs tenant has been complaining that the kids are running up and down all day and he is getting "headaches" from the noise.  I mentioned the excessive noise to the upstairs tenant and he said that he would talk to his wife to try to have the kids keep the noise down.  I then told the guy downstairs that I spoke to the people upstairs.  But really, all I can do is talk to them.  My lease has a noise clause but that is between the hours of 10PM and 6AM.  This has nothing to do with the noise clause.

Today I get another text from the guy downstairs with a photo of the dining room area that has dust on the furniture, allegedly from the ceiling due to all of the "Banging and running around".  I have already spoken to the tenant upstairs and told this to the guy downstairs.  

I don't think there is anything more that I can really do.  

To be honest, if he wants to move out, i would be ok with that.

Your thoughts and advice????

Sounds like you’ve got a needy tenant on the bottom. Unless the kids are screaming loudly or your ceiling is super thin I usually can’t even hear people above me.

Are they jumping on the floor or something?

@Caleb Heimsoth .  They are little kids and appear to be very well behaved when I see them.  I think he is just being a complainer.  

I guess my question is, "Is this really my responsibility?" "Should I even get involved?"  I think that he should man up and speak to them himself.

Dust on the dining room table from kids running up stairs .    You have a nut case on your hands 

I wouldn’t get involved anymore. If he stops paying rent file an eviction

You just gotta be straight with your downstairs tenant. Tell him you cannot control someone else's kids. You have already spoken to the upstairs tenant and that they are attempting to keep the kids quiet but they are KIDS. If he doesn't like it tough, don't live in an apartment. He has the option to call the police for noise complaints but any good cop is going to laugh at him if he tries to file a complaint against children. 

If he wants to leave and you and he can come to an arrangement that's probably the best but don't allow him to break his lease or stop paying rent because of it. I'm sure New Jersey tenant laws are much different than down here so you best bet is to just let it run its course. Try not to let it stress you out too much. Landlording would be so much easier without the tenants right? lol

This is a matter for the tenants to deal with amongst themselves.  HAs the downstair tenant made contact, requested nicely, etc.  All noise complaints in my opinion are to be handled between tenants always.  It could be the same issue if they owner the condos.  They need to handle on their own.

@Christine Kankowski and @Peter M. .

Thank you for the advice.  You both make perfect sense.  He has not spoken to the upstairs tenant.  He only complains to me.  He does have a six month lease which expires in June.  I will give him the opportunity to not renew if he is not happy.  I could probably get more rent anyway with a new tenant.  

Thank you both.

If his lease is up in June, it’s a no brainer to simply not renew. Problem solved

Do you have to give tenants the opportunity to renew in NJ? If so come on down to Texas, tenants don't get a choice as long as they get proper notice. Also keep in mind tenant turnover can be your biggest cost. If he is simply annoying you, is that worth possibly not having that unit rented for 1 month or more? Evaluate the opportunity cost involved. It may be a better move financially to let him stay and just deal with his complaints. 

It sounds like you might need acoustic tiles or something to dampen the footfall vibrations coming from upstairs.

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@Account Closed  The downstairs guy is a complainer.  He calls/texts for every little thing.  The neighbor lets his dog walk in the yard, he calls.  Someone throws garbage in the yard, he calls. The other posts are right.  He needs to deal with this and grow a pair to talk with the guy upstairs.

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Kids upstairs was a nightmare for me at one point in my life living in a condo.  After moving out made sure I never had upstairs neighbors again.  

NYC has the mythical 80% carpet rule in leases to help with upstairs noise.

Sounds like this guy needs a girlfriend.

@Missy H. it is best to not get involved. When I had multi, I always told tenants to work it out. As I explained to them, this is your neighbor. Knock on their door and introduce yourself. Be kind and ask them nicely to keep the noise down. If it is some wild party that is violating city noise ordinances, call the police.

Of course the potential positive here is having a tenant report problems can be a good thing. If someone is littering my yard or causing problems on my property, I want my tenants to notify me. It is a balance and only you know if this guy has gone too far.

Good luck!

Get rid of your complainer. He’s apart of the 20% who cause 80% of your problems. Paint it and raise the rent for the next tenant

Up/down duplexes landlord rule #1 you never rent the upstairs to anyone with children. Never ever or you end up with this situation every time. 

I would want to resolve the kid issue otherwise you will never be able to keep a tenant in the lower unit, get use to constant turn over. As is the upstairs tenant is in violation of their lease and it is your responsibility to resolve the issue. Your down stairs tenant legally has the right to reasonable enjoyment and he was there first. You made a mistake and it is your responsibility to try to find a resolution.

I would speak with both tenants and ask that they switch apartments. Put the kids down stairs. If they agree good if not I would ask if the down stairs tenant is willing to put up with the noise till the end of the upstairs tenants lease. If so I would not renew the up stairs tenants lease. Tell them all the details as it may encourage them to switch units.

If neither are willing to accommodate let the down stairs tenant out of his lease, find a new tennat and non renew the upstairs tenant at the end of their lease.

Another good example of why M2M leases are the best way to go.

Time for the happy clause - 

"It sounds like you really aren't happy here. Why don't we meet in a few days to discuss an early termination and move out plan that works for both of us. In the mean time, think about what terms would work best for you and I will do the same."

Then see what he says.

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@Missy H. My brother has the same issue with an over/under in CT. Upstairs tenants are great: pay like clockwork, treat the place well, plan to stay forever, help out, etc. But they have kids running around creating more noise than you'd think would be humanly possible. I'm not surprised your tenant has dust on the furniture, and I think this complaint is actually legitimate because kids running around can sound like gods bowling. My brother's downstairs tenants (who he thought were just complainers) moved out and my brother actually happened to break up with his girlfriend at the time and needed a new place so he moved in to that unit. Immediately he was shocked by how loud it was whenever the kids were running around, which was often. He doesn't have kids, and I do. He called me all bleary eyed from lack of sleep with a giant headache and said "Can I tell them not to let their kids run around?" Bwahahaha good luck with that buddy. Kids are gonna run around. When he and I were kids all we did was run around battling each other. No mom or dad on the planet has that much control over kids that they won't run around. Parents of young kids are in survival mode, they're just trying to keep themselves and their kids alive. My brother is a carpenter and decided to do some rehab on the unit. It's an old building with tall ceilings so he decided to try to sound proof it. Turns out complete soundproofing is very, very difficult. You really need 12" minimum to work with so if you don't have tall ceilings it's not an option. You need to first dampen the impact noise with a barrier beneath the subfloor of the upstairs unit (this is the most important part, if you don't do this forget it). Then insulate with minimum R19 and have air gaps above and below the insulation, and finally hang double or even triple layers of thick sheet rock on the ceiling, like this:

Even with all that done, your sound barrier is only as good as it's weakest point. If you have even a small hole you missed behind a wall somewhere, a gap around a pipe or electrical stub a mouse hole or any cavity whatsoever the sound is gonna come right through that spot and all your efforts will be mostly futile. Unless you are willing to spend some money and do it right then soundproofing isn't an option. 

 Theoretically your tenants should work out the issue themselves and the guy downstairs should not live in a downstairs unit if he wants peace and quiet. In reality you probably have to get out in front of the situation. I'd say your best options are to not renew his lease then offer the upstairs folks to move downstairs when he leaves and find a new tenant for upstairs. Or if the upstairs folks don't want to move downstairs, find a new tenant downstairs who works a lot during the day, and just disclose upfront to any new renters that there are kids upstairs before renting to them so they know what they're getting into. 

@Ro Maga

I live in the basement unit of a house and I rent out the upstairs to skinny young adults and if you heard the stomping around that I hear you would be convinced they are all 300+ pounds upstairs.  Now everything is hardwood floors and maybe if I had carpet up there things would be quieter but the loudest of the stomping is when they use the stairs which is the only part of the upstairs that is carpeted oddly enough.

My point is the downstairs tenant may have a legitimate complaint and may not be just a complainer.  I am the landlord and I am complaining!  I would ask the tenants upstairs to be aware that their kids running around probably sounds like a herd of elephants to the tenant below and maybe add some throw rugs to the upstairs unit and hope that quiets things down for the downstairs tenant.

I 100% agree that a big error that ALL landlords should avoid is renting second stories to families with kids.

I also 100% agree that the landlord makes reasonable contact with the "above neighbor" and lets them know about the "below neighbor" complaints and then stays out of it....they need to work it out between themselves. DO NOT be the arbitrator. As soon as someone has an easy person to dump their problems or complaints on, they will do it...over and over and over. As soon as it takes some effort for THEM to resolve the issue, they often give up and decide its not as bad as they think and they learn to live with it. DONT be the dumping ground for every petty issue

One tenant needs to leave..... bottom line. You decide which is the best overall tenant and keep them. The family wins BUT only if they move downstairs after the lower guy leaves....or you will repeat this again next tenant.

Account Closed I was ready to type that.  I have a clause for my 2nd floor unit, at bare min 80% needs to be carpeted.  Kids or no Kids.

Also, the upstairs tenant has to try harder in my humble opinion.  I get it, they're kids - take them to the park to run around.  At least try.  My take is you want to provide tenants tranquility.

ive had to always only rent to either day folks or nite folks in my triplex for this reason.  And i avoid small children for this reason in this location.....  I have actually had to evict someone for this reason.....  we also installed  66 bags of insulation in the basement apt ceiling to help buffer, which did help..

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