How to Tell Your Upstairs Neighbor They Walk Too Loud (Sample letter included)


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Upstairs neighbors may be obligated to be quiet during certain hours and have a certain percentage of carpeting. Let the neighbor know this. However, they do not have to make other alterations to the way they walk, so ask politely but directly. Be clear and reasonable. Offer to show them how loud it is.

No one likes dealing with an annoying neighbor. But an annoying neighbor can be someone who clomps around as if they are wearing clown shoes upstairs or someone who makes unreasonable demands about how you act in your own apartment.

To address the first kind of annoying neighbor without becoming the second kind, you’ll need to learn the correct way to approach someone about changing their behavior.

What Are the Tenancy Clauses for the Building?

If upstairs neighbors are making a lot of noise, you may have more leverage to get them to change their actions if they are violating a written rule in their tenant agreement. Read through your tenant agreement to figure out if there are any rules your neighbor could be breaking.

Certain tenant clauses require carpet over a specific percentage of the floor. If you suspect your upstairs neighbor doesn’t have enough carpeting put down based on the amount of noise they produce, this is something you can bring up when you speak with them.

Other tenancy clauses include quiet hours when residents are expected to limit noise. This will only apply if your noisy neighbor spends time making noise after quiet hours. If this is the case, you can bring this up to them and give them a chance to fix their actions. But if they don’t, this violation gives you a good reason to approach the landlord about the problem.

Be Aware That You Have Very Little Control

Approaching anyone to change their behavior is daunting since you never know how they will react. Some people may react poorly to even the politest of requests. This is something you need to understand before you approach your neighbor.

No matter how nice you are, they may still have a negative reaction, and they may not do what you ask them to.

Cropped view of businessman playing with marionette

Human beings are impossible to control, so you may approach your neighbor, but you have absolutely no way or right to force them to do so unless there are clauses in the building leases or apartment HOAs.

Even though there is the possibility of conflict, you should still approach them. Just make sure to phrase your request politely and directly.

Do What You Can First

Because you actually have no right to tell your neighbors to walk quietly in their own apartment, you should only approach them when you have done everything you can on your side.

This includes soundproofing. If the ceiling seems thin above you, installing foam soundproofing can be a good way to dampen the noise from above.

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You can also consider wearing earplugs if the noise is really bothering you. Find a pair that fits well that you can pop in if the noise from above is distracting you from focusing on something else.

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If earplugs sound daunting, a more practical choice is headphones, so that you can play background music to tune out the noise of your neighbor’s footsteps. You can also play your music aloud from your computer, phone, or stereo.

For more tips on dulling the noise coming from upstairs, you can find them in Upstairs Neighbor Has Squeaky Floors (Practical Advice).

Be Honest, but Not Confrontational

When you approach your neighbors, you will want to tell them the truth but keep your tone polite. People appreciate honesty, so be direct, but be polite as well.

Tell them that you know you have no right to tell them to be quiet and you have no intention of asking them to change their lives for you, but you are struggling with the loudness of their walking, or rather, the way the sound carries into your apartment.

Make your statements in terms of “I” statements, such as “I have been having trouble focusing due to the noise” rather than “You” statements, such as “You are walking too loud.” This will make your request feel like less of a personal criticism and more of a request.

Invite Them to Listen From Your Apartment

If you want a solid reason to show your neighbors the problem, blame it on thin flooring. This will give you a good reason to demonstrate for them without placing too much blame on them.

Then invite them down to your apartment while you go upstairs and mimic their footsteps. Try to be realistic as to how loud their walking was, so that they can hear the problem for themselves.

Scared woman with closed eyes holding bang sign and closing ear isolated on white

Another reasonable way to demonstrate the noise to them is to show them a video where you can hear the footsteps from above. Most people are not trying to be disruptive, so they may need to hear the error of their ways. This might be all it takes to send them searching for ways to walk more quietly in an apartment.

Tell Them When It Is Most Troublesome

You want your discussion to focus on how you are being affected by the noise. Don’t take the approach of, “you walk loud, please stop.” Rather, you should say that you struggle with the loud walking most during this time and this is why.

Maybe you work or study from home at certain times and really need to focus. It might pay to mention these times of day to your neighbor so that they know when they should quiet down their footsteps and when they don’t have to be so vigilant.

You may not even be home for certain times of the day, and you can mention this so that they know when their footsteps aren’t a problem at all.

If They Agree to Try, Give Them Time

Ever heard the adage “Old habits die hard”? Well, it’s true.

Have you ever attempted to alter or break a habit like biting your nails or chewing loudly? If you’ve tried, you know how easy it can be to slip back into your old ways even when you are putting effort into making a change.

Your neighbor isn’t going to immediately change their ways overnight and be perfectly quiet all the time. They will probably take some time to get into new habits, so don’t bang on their ceiling with a broom the very next time you hear them make a noise.

Offer to Buy Them a Rug

This is optional, but it could be a nice compromise with your neighbor. After all, you are the one who is having the issue, and as mentioned before, they do not have to change their ways.

If it is a big enough problem for you, buying them a rug could be a fast solution for your peace of mind.

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This is a great option if you have the budget for it. Otherwise, you can also offer to go halvsies. However, if they have to have the carpet to meet the minimum percentage of coverage, then they should pay entirely.

Sample Letter

Dear [neighbor’s name],

I’m writing to you about an issue that I’ve been having and which I was hoping you could help me with.

I have been struggling to do [activity] around [time of day] as the sound of your footsteps is carrying loudly through the floor of your apartment and into mine. I have tried [method of silencing background noise]. However, I can still hear the footsteps.

As you may know, our tenancy agreement states that ‘x; percentage of the floor be covered in rugs. Kindly advise if your carpeting is compliant with this clause? Furthermore, the agreement states that occupants should be quieter between ‘x pm and x am’, yet I seem to hear you moving around quite loudly during those hours, which makes sleep rather difficult for me.

While I know that I cannot ask you to alter the way you walk, I would be most appreciative if you could bear me in mind when you go about your daily and nightly tasks and perhaps find a way to dampen the sound of footsteps from your side, especially during the agreement’s quiet hours. As mentioned, I have done all I can from this side.

If you’d like to come downstairs and hear how it sounds, let me know, and we can make that happen. I trust I am not being unreasonable when I say that the sound is excessively loud. My contact information is below if you’d like to set something up or discuss this more in-depth.

Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.

Best regards,

[your name/signature]

[contact information]

Free downloadable pdf of the sample letter.

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