We moved into an apartment about two years ago. Prior to that, we lived in various houses – usually with no close next-door neighbor. Because of Jake’s behavioral conditions, he gets annoyed very easily, and I didn’t want to listen to him complain about what the neighbors were doing – so whenever we moved, it was always fantastic to find a house where we were away from direct next-door neighbors. This last move however, I had to find a place that we could afford in a particular area, and so we ended up in an apartment on the 3rd floor. And this is where I discovered – WE are the neighbors from hell.
Started out with our downstairs neighbor knocking on our door to let us know that the floors are squeaky and that she could hear someone walking back and forth over and over again. I told her it was my son Jake pacing and that I would talk to him. Now Jake has always been a pacer since he was very young – it is a way for him to manage stress. He also walks heavily due to his Myotonic Dystrophy which affects his muscles. I was beside myself wondering how I tell my son he cannot pace in our own home. As you can imagine it did not go over very well. I bought several thick carpet pads to place on top of the already carpeted floors in hopes that it would help. I don’t know that it actually helped, but I like to pretend it did.
We have a balcony just off the kitchen, and Jake enjoyed being able to sit out there. But he also enjoyed listening to his graphic rap music – loudly – while he sat outside. Neighbors complained. I told him that he could not have loud music outside. So he would sit outside and listen to his music using his headphones – and sing along – loudly. Neighbors complained. We have gotten complaints because Jake was listening to his music in his room – with the window open during the summer. Jake also has a very loud voice and he swears a lot when he gets upset – and apparently people can hear that too.
So apparently we upset the neighbors with our noise. I don’t blame them for being upset. They have a right to live in their own homes without listening to rap music and people swearing. Jake did change his behavior some, but it was always stressful when he would get loud about anything. Then more people moved into our apartment. And the noise got worse.
We had a total of six people living in our apartment for a number of months. My son Asa moved in, and then later my daughter Caitlin – which then led to her boyfriend Jesse and my grandson Tyler moving in as well. All three of my kids have Myotonic Dystrophy, which means lots of heavy footfalls. My grandson Tyler was five and he has Myotonic Dystrophy as well. He is nonverbal – which does not mean he does not make noise. Instead of being able to talk, he makes sounds. He LOVES music and singing. The problem is that he has no pitch control or volume control when he sings – so to everyone else it just sounds like he is screaming, even though we know he is singing the theme song to his favorite TV show. He is also quite active – and was used to living in an apartment on the ground floor, where he could run and jump. Our downstairs neighbor was quite unhappy with us. I tried to explain that Tyler has a disability and that we would work on getting him to tone it down and not run.
Eventually my daughter found another place to live, so we pared our household down to three. I thought things would improve. But no – things just went in a different direction. First it was that Jake was smoking in the stairwell. Told him not to do that. Then it was he was playing loud music out in the parking area as he waited for brother to come out. Told him to turn it down. Then it was he and his friends were not moving out of the way when people wanted to use the stairs – and people felt intimidated by him and his friends when they hung out in front of the apartment building. He even at one point got into an argument with our downstairs neighbor in which he told her to go “mind her own f*#^ing business”. I was basically told by the apartment manager that the only thing keeping us from getting kicked out was that there was an eviction moratorium due to Covid.
Had a long talk with Jake about the smoking rules and that he needed to keep his music off or turned down low when he was outside. I also talked about the intimidation issue. I explained that the stairs in the stairwell are for people to go into and out of their homes. They are not for hanging out. I told him that he and his friends could not wait in front of the building because it was making people scared or nervous to have to pass by. He didn’t understand how that was possible because they weren’t doing anything except just waiting. So I explained that as a woman, I feel nervous and intimidated if I have to pass by a group of men. I want to be able to go in and out of my home without feeling scared. If people are in my way, it makes me upset. He was not happy with having to change, but he told me a couple of times that he did not know that what he was doing was upsetting people and if he knew that the stairwell and the front of the building were only for people to go in and out of their homes, he would not have been hanging out there. He promised to try to do better.
I talked to the manager and I told her that if there are any complaints about any of my boys, to let me know right away. She said she had not heard of any recently, but she would call if she did. Half an hour later, I get a phone call. The neighbor complained that there was a huge fight at my place, with yelling and swearing and furniture being knocked over. Wait, what?? When was this? Oh, about 10 minutes ago. I was puzzled because I had been at my computer in my room for the last 20 minutes and there had not been a fight. Then it dawned on me. Oh yeah. I get so used to some noise that I tune it out. So I had to explain that what the neighbor heard was not a fight, but was instead Jake playing video games, screaming at the TV about not being able to catch a Pokemon, telling the game to F – Off several times, and knocking a chair over.
I am actively looking to buy a home in the country.