Did you know that one of the biggest issues when managing a property is dealing with noise complaints? The domestic complaint call is consistently in the top five calls received by police departments – right up there with domestic violence, suicide attempts, and general disturbances.
Living in an apartment has its pros and cons, and one of the biggest annoyances comes from neighbors stomping on the floor above you. If this is happening to you, it can really put a damper on your quality of life, and you might need to take action to stop it. You may be thinking of talking to your neighbor or reporting to your landlord, and it would be useful if you have some evidence, especially if it persists after you have spoken to them once.
So, how to record upstairs neighbor stomping?
To record your upstairs neighbor’s stomping sounds, you can use a microphone, a portable voice recorder, a smartphone, or a sound level meter. These devices are your best bet to capture clear sounds that can be used later for mediation or in extreme cases, a police report.
Read on as I show you the ways to record the offending sounds and also share a few tips on how to deal with such neighbors the right way.
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Why do upstairs neighbors stomp?
I honestly think that most of the time, the offending party does not even realize it since they are not on the receiving end. That does not mean they should not do anything about it though if they were told.
The most common reason for stomping is that the person upstairs is getting ready to go out.
They’re running around, trying to find their keys or shoes, or maybe they’re just excited to go out.
Some people stomp when they’re angry.
It’s a way to release pent-up energy and frustration.
This is more common in kids than adults because they don’t know how else to deal with their anger and frustration, or they could simply be running around the house playing with each other.
There are also lots of people who work out at home. An innocent burpee can easily become a source of frustration for downstairs neighbors without them knowing!
And finally, if you are hearing lots and lots of stomping noises from above, they could be having a party with lots of guests over.
Preparing to record your upstairs neighbor’s stomping noises: How to record noisy neighbors for evidence?
Before you start recording the noises coming from your neighbor’s apartment, you would be better off if you did some preparation so that you can capture the clearest sounds.
The cool thing is that it does not take much of an effort or cost you anything to get set up properly.
Here are some tips that will work for you:
Keeping your own apartment as quiet as possible
Stomping noises are not particularly easy to record since they sometimes can blend in with your surrounding noises.
As such, you should reduce any external interferences as much as you can.
Before you start recording, turn off any appliances that make a noise, such as fans or your TV, and keep the windows shut.
This will prevent third-party noise from interfering with your recording.
If you are using your mobile phone to do the recording, be sure to turn it to airplane mode or turn off the ringer in case it starts buzzing.
Get close to the source
To get the best recording of the sound, it is best to be as close to it as possible. That means you will need to get yourself, or the device, close to the ceiling.
In order to do that, you can make use of a chair or ladder to prop you up.
The main logic behind this is that if you are recording at ground level, the noise tends to get dissipated and you might not have the clearest recording.
Start recording when you hear the noise
Once the noise starts, get up on your chair or ladder and start recording right away.
Be sure to place the recording device as close to the ceiling as possible, preferably touching it.
This will ensure you get the best recording possible since sound travels more quickly through solids than in any other state.
Length of recording
This really depends on how long your neighbor is stomping for.
In general, I would say that you should record it for as long as you can hold, or at least a couple of minutes.
5-10 seconds of stomping is not really something that serious, don’t you think?
Being able to have a longer recording also illustrates to anybody the impact of the annoyance on you and your family.
Labeling your recordings
You should also store your recordings with labels of when they were taken. This will be useful later on if you need to submit evidence to your property manager, or even the police.
You should also keep a record of any communication you’ve had with your landlord or property manager on this issue.
This can come in handy if they later claim they were unaware of the noise problem or if your neighbor’s behavior continues after they said they’d take steps to address it.
What setup would I need to accurately record stomping?
Knowing your upstairs neighbor walks like an elephant is one thing, but recording the noise is another.
As I mentioned earlier, you can use a number of devices to capture the noise.
Using a microphone or portable recording device
Your laptop should come fitted with a microphone that can be used for recording the noise.
Turn on the recording function and set it to the maximum sound level in order to record the noise.
Take note though, that the microphones in laptops are not really good for this particular use and your results might not be what you wanted. You might want to get an external USB microphone such as the UMIK-1 although the cost could be too much.
A better alternative would be to buy a portable voice recorder to do the job instead.
It doesn’t cost a great deal but it does the trick very well.
Try out the Evistr Digital Voice Recorder if you are keen.
Using a voice app
If you wish to use your smartphone to record instead, you can simply install a noise measuring app to do so.
There are lots of apps available both for Android and Apple devices, and you can choose a paid version (lots of extra features) or just go for a free one.
- Too Noisy Pro: $4.99 in Apple App Store, $6.49 in Play Store
- Sound Meter & Noise Detector: Free in Play Store
- NIOSH Sound Level Meter: Free in Apple App Store
Using a sound level meter
And finally, you might opt for a somewhat professional solution that does not cost much.
A decibel meter is a sound pressure measuring tool that employs the decibel scale to make uniform measurements.
The decibel meter is sometimes known as a sound pressure level (SPL) meter because of this. Noise meter and sound level meter are two more common names.
A microphone is used to capture sound in a decibel meter.
The microphone detects sound pressure variations and translates them to an electrical signal, which is amplified by a preamplifier.
The decibel meter then applies frequency and temporal weightings to the signal according to international standards via signal processing.
If you wish to use this method, I recommend getting the Tadeto Digital Sound Level Meter.
Can I record the upstairs neighbor stomping? Is it legal to record upstairs neighbors?
It’s kind of a gray line if you asked me. Although you are recording your neighbor, you are recording a sound that is in your home.
There are a few things to consider before you start recording your upstairs neighbor’s stomping.
To begin, make sure you aren’t breaking any state or federal wiretapping laws. I believe this will differ from state to state.
To lawfully record a conversation, you’ll probably need the approval of all people involved.
If you’re unsure whether or not you can videotape your neighbor, you should seek an attorney.
Recording someone without their permission might result in criminal penalties, so make sure you’re following the rules.
If you’re not sure how to deal with the legalities of recording your neighbor, I suggest that you go to your landlord or call the cops. They might be able to assist you with your problem.
Should I tell my upstairs neighbors that they are stomping?
Yes. It’s rude to stomp around on someone else’s floor and they should be aware that they are causing a disturbance.
You could ask your landlord or someone in authority to have a word with them, but if you’re not sure whether it will make things worse, then perhaps just being polite about it yourself is better.
If you’re able to identify who lives upstairs (by seeing them coming and going) then you could approach them saying that you’ve noticed some noise from above and asking if there’s anything they could do about it.
If possible, provide some suggestions as to what might be done, for example avoiding certain times, installing pads under furniture, or gifting them a rug (yes, sounds extreme but very likely to work well). These may not solve the problem entirely but they can certainly reduce impact noise from above.
Sometimes, you can’t win them all. Infrastructure problems cannot be solved by your neighbors, so try to give and take some.
How to deal with upstairs neighbors stomping?
Your first reaction might be to record your neighbors making noise, but is that really the only solution? Before you do so, maybe you can try out the suggestions below too:
Speak to them first
The first step to solving a neighbor’s dispute is to talk it out. Be polite, keep the conversation positive, and try not to get angry. Remember, people are less defensive when you approach them as a friend and not an adversary.
Keep your conversations private and avoid mentioning anything to other neighbors until you’ve had a chance to work things out with the person in question.
This is important because it prevents your neighbor from being embarrassed by the problem—and it allows both of you to resolve the matter peacefully on your own before getting anyone else involved.
Once you feel like you’ve resolved the problem on your own, if there continues to be an issue then it may be time for mediation or other types of conflict resolution (or even legal action).
Bear with the noise
You will need to determine if the noise is really so unbearable that you need to take action on it. Sometimes, if the noise is not persistent and does not happen after certain hours, you might consider just bearing with it.
In most places, there is really not any restriction to noises during the daytime, so any complaints could potentially be shut down very quickly.
Of course, you may be able to record it and prove otherwise, but if it is not too much, maybe living with it is the best solution.
I got to say though, this is not my preferred solution.
Soundproof your ceilings
Obviously, this is going to cost a fair bit, but if your apartment or condo is due for an upgrade soon, why not talk to your contractor about soundproofing your ceiling.
Not only does it block out unwanted noise, but professionally done jobs can also enhance the looks of your home, adding to its resale value down the road.
If this is not on the cards, consider a do-it-yourself job by using soundproof paint, or installing acoustic panels on your ceilings.
Talk to the property management
If that fails, discuss the situation with your landlord or property management company.
The landlord or manager might take action against the upstairs neighbor on your behalf if they think their behavior violates the terms of your lease agreement or rental contract.
If your landlord or property manager is able to help, make sure you provide them with the facts of the situation.
You should mention things like the date and time when you noticed the noise, how long it lasted, and whether you were able to identify what caused it.
Call the police
In my opinion, this is very much a temporary solution only. Depending on how your neighbors above react, they could stop for a while or turn up the intensity.
You might want to check in with your local police department to find out if there are any laws that protect you, such as fines for the offending party.
If there are no such laws in place, the police might not be of much use besides an unfriendly warning to them.
If you want to declare war on your neighbors, hiring legal help is probably the biggest weapon you can bring to the table.
People do not want lawsuits, so even a warning letter from your attorney might help greatly.
Suing your neighbor might result in them getting fined, and in some extreme cases, evicted from their premises.
You will definitely have to provide evidence of the offense, so be sure to ask your lawyer for details first.
Move to a new place
I have heard of people moving away from their apartments just because of a nasty neighbor.
This is not a solution for most people, but if you think that you do not want to get into it with a psycho neighbor, moving away could mean a better scenery for you.
For all you know, a quieter location might not be far away from you. A call to the realtor’s office won’t harm you.
Taking revenge on your upstairs neighbor for noises
I have come across a number of articles online that talks about taking revenge on your neighbor for all the distress they are causing.
These could involve doing things like applying Vaseline on their doorknobs or drawing on their doors (I cannot understand how silly this is and probably illegal), blasting loud music (a surefire way to piss everyone else off), and using a ceiling vibrator (never knew such a device existed!).
If you were to go through these steps, I don’t see how different you are from your nasty neighbor.
Be the bigger man and find a solution, not confrontation like that.
As the famous quote goes, “The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.”
In conclusion: Dealing with an upstairs neighbor stomping
Stomping upstairs neighbors are frustrating and annoying, but you can often resolve the problem through communication.
So you know your neighbor has been stomping on purpose and it’s not just their children playing.
What do you do about it? Well, first of all, don’t be angry.
Anger will not make the situation better in any way so give yourself time to cool off before approaching your neighbor.
When you do approach them, make sure you are calm and polite no matter what they say or how bad their behavior is. You want to avoid a confrontation if at all possible.
Explain that you can hear them stomping in your unit and ask what’s going on.
If they don’t want to talk to you, consider calling the police department’s non-emergency line for help.
Hopefully, these tips will allow you to resolve this issue amicably with your neighbor sooner rather than later!
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