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80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

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80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby Hat Knitter » Sat Jan 03, 2004 7:11 pm

My husband and I just received a letter from the management company of our apartment building that they have received numerous noise complaints from our downstairs neighbor. They state that cooperative rules require all residents to carpet at least 80% of all wooden floors and that we need to comply by January 31, and will be inspected by early February.

Our building is a co-op with a large percentage of the building owned by our landlord. Nowhere in our lease does it state that we must carpet 80% of the wooden floors (or anything like it). I have heard of this rule before (our last apartment's coop board had a rule about it) but it was never even mentioned to me, let alone put in our lease for this apartment.

We have lived here for 13 months, having just renewed our lease for another year. We have never had any problems with the landlord or the management company. We have received exactly 3 noise complaints from our downstairs neighbor. In response to the complaints, we wear slippers half of the time and try not to put our shoes on until we are about to leave the apartment. Frankly, we think the neighbors are a little kooky.

The question is- are we required to abide by a co-op rule that is not in our lease?

Thanks.

<small>[ January 03, 2004, 06:24 PM: Message edited by: Hat Knitter ]</small>
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby TenantNet » Sat Jan 03, 2004 11:13 pm

It's not a law as some believe, but it is in many leases ... although I've never seen it enforced. LL's can create "reasonable" building rules even if not in the lease if fair, reasonable and uniformly enforced. However, if not in the lease, it would be difficult for the landlord to take you to court on a breach of lease. On the other hand, he could claim you were creating a nuisance (realize that noise is often in the eyes in the beholder -- what do your other neighbors say about your alleged noisemaking?). A lot boils down to what is reasonable. Walking is one thing; subwoofer speakers is something else. In this situation a little diplomacy with the LL might make this go away.
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby HardKnocks » Sun Jan 04, 2004 12:15 pm

Walking is one thing. Walking with shoes on bare floors is another. Walking is one thing. Dragging furniture across bare floors is another. Walking is one thing. Stomping at 2 am on bare floors is another.

Get it? Some sounds that would be "normal" on covered floors are very different on bare floors. The sound is amplified. Drop something... what would be a dull thud on a covered floor becomes a deafening crash on a bare floor. Wearing your shoes on bare floors (especially women's shoes) sounds, to the downstairs neighbor, like someone continuously hammering on their ceiling. And so on and so on.

Covering your floors is simple courtesy. Realize that you are not the only person alive. I know my landlord would never enforce the rule (certainly hasn't made my upstairs neighbor cover her floors) and my downstairs neighbors are the noisiest, rowdiest, most inconsiderate people in existence. But I still cover my floors and take off my shoes in the house. Their rudeness does not change the way I was brought up.

And not everyone who doesn't like to hear hammering on their ceiling and deafening crashes is "kooky." The upstairs never realizes how they sound to the downstairs when their floors are bare. You hear EVERY LITTLE SOUND--MAGNIFIED.

Just cover your floors.
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby Anna » Sun Jan 04, 2004 4:32 pm

Legal Sense:
As you probably know because you've sublet coops before, you have a sublease, not a lease. Your LL has the proprietary lease: his lease most likely contains the 80% floor coverage clause or it contains a clause obligating adherance to the House Rules, where the 80% is. Your lease probably obligates you to comply with his lease and the house rules. Coops do enforce quality of life issues more than rental bldgs do; they do it with fines and threats of evictions (the Court of Appeals ruled that the coop can define what 'objectionable behavior' is and evict on the coops' definition). If coop fines LL or sues him, he will pass those expenses to you. If LL did not provide you with the House Rules and/or the contents of his lease, you could argue that you are not obligated; since you knew it was a sublet, success is not hopeful. Win or lose, LL will simply refuse to renew your lease again.


Reality Check:
"Our building is a co-op with a large percentage of the building owned by our landlord." And the people downstairs are shareholders. Your LL is the sponsor of the conversion from rental to coop or his successor. There was an implied contract the he would sell all of the apts within a reasonable time after conversion to resident shareholders, not use the conversion to remove apts from rent regulation through attrition then rent them at inflated rents to you as an absentee LL. The resident shareholders may be tired of his broken promises and may be more inclined to make his subtenants obey every rule to persuade him to sell those apts. The coop may be preparing to sue him for damages and to enforce the contract; there is legal precedent for this.

Common Sense:
Barefeet on wood floors can be worse than shoes!
My upstairs neighbor was a very small man with a very large chip on his shoulder: he did not walk, he stomped, usually in his barefeet. The whole bldg shook. His live-in-maid was very light on her feet: she wore heels only immediately before leaving and after arriving, slippers the rest of the time. Not a single rug. The clacking could be heard below me, the stomping could be felt throughout the whole bldg. My new downstairs neighbors thought it was me, until both occurred when I was sitting in their apt sipping tea... (note: all stompers I have know were in denial re this behavior).

Bottom Line:
Cover the floors.

Your neighbors complained only three times? this doesn't mean the noise bothered them only three times: thirty or three hundred is more likely. Complaining to mgmt about neighbors is not done lightly by most people. Cover the floors.
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby HardKnocks » Sun Jan 04, 2004 5:31 pm

Anna, how true. There are kids two floors above me who run back and forth in the apt. It can be heard on several floors, and the building shakes, sometimes for hours on end. It's funny, I have a girlfriend who weighs like 110 lbs, and she stomps like an elephant. It's just how she walks, and she wears her shoes in the house. I would never want to live below her, especially if she had bare floors.

But generally, covered floors mask noise far better than bare floors... and I'd rather hear thuds than jarring crashes.

Folks, if you insist on having bare floors (which you really have no RIGHT to insist on under most leases), have the courtesy to step lightly and take your shoes off in exchange for that right. In my case, it's bad enough that the floorboards are creaky and I have to hear endless symphonies of "squeak squeak squeak" when my upstairs neighbor walks around. But combine that with shoes, bare floors and the crazy hours she keeps (and her up-every-hour insomnia)... and you have an unliveable situation.

At least put down area rugs, for crying out loud. AND TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES!!!
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby Anna » Sun Jan 04, 2004 6:31 pm

Correction:
I meant to say that barefeet or women's heeled shoes are equally poor choices but produce different noises and irritations. Thick slippers are preferable to either. Thick slippers on padded rugs are the most neighborly solution.

ps: stompers can learn to walk normally: the man upstairs gradually stomped more and more softly after his 'maid' moved in; however, she became more heavy-footed over the years (without gaining weight: he transferred his anger to her...).

<small>[ January 04, 2004, 09:02 PM: Message edited by: Anna ]</small>
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby TenantNet » Mon Jan 05, 2004 12:03 am

Now that you all have lectured the OP, re-read the OP -- they say they do wear slippers and wait until they leave before they put on shoes. Every situation is different and sound can travel in many diferent ways. And, as Anna says, a person heavy on his feet can create a problem whether or not he's wearing shoes. Carpets and rugs can certainly help, but may not be the solution in all cases. We don't know the nature of the noise, if the tenant below is over-sensitive or what. On the other hand, the OP may be making noise and not realizing it. My worst experiences have been from the tenant below, not above.
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby HardKnocks » Tue Jan 06, 2004 9:58 pm

Yes, TN, the OP did say they wear slippers. I was only pointing out that there ARE differences in the sounds made on covered floors vs. bare floors. What sounds "normal" on covered floors is very loud on bare floors. So while they think they're being quiet, even though they sound quiet on COVERED floors, that "quiet" can be not very quiet without rugs.

It's sort of like... a t-shirt is "normal" attire in the summer. But in the winter, that exact same t-shirt isn't "normal." Vacuuming your floor is normal. Vacuuming your floor at 3 am is not. Same behavior, but in different circumstances, "normal" can become "intolerable."
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby delena76 » Tue Feb 24, 2004 10:14 am

I know the OP is living in a coop but just out of curisoity...........

I am living in a non-regulated apartment. I have never rec'd any noise complaints and my landlord lives directly below my apartment.

Let's say he did start complaining about noise and let's say for arguments sake I did my best to make sure I complied with his requests and he still wasn't satisfied. If he is so pissed off, shouldn't he then make an effort to get wall-to-wall carpeting throughout the apartment? Why should the tenant have to dish out almost two grand for wall-to-wall carpeting?

Reading these posts I can now see why some apartments come with carpeting.
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby Phil Cohen » Tue Feb 24, 2004 11:28 am

If the lease is silent on floor coverings, you'd be under no obligation to carpet the apartment. But being in a non-regulated apartment, the landlord could simply not renew your lease if he didn't care for the sound of your footsteps, or any reason or no reason, for that matter.

I reread some of the posts in this old thread and I was surprised how harsh people were to the OP. I remember a story my parents told me years ago about how they were sued back in the 1930s by the downstairs tenant because he could hear them walking upstairs. The suit was thrown out and the judge said, "what do you expect them to do, walk on the ceiling?"
Keep in mind that I am a tenant. Not a lawyer!!!!!
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby Hat Knitter » Tue Feb 24, 2004 11:46 am

Phil, thank you for acknowledging the harshness of the responses posted. I was extremely surprised about how nasty and defensive the responses have been, which is why I have not bothered to follow up and update on the disposition.

After a few letters back and forth with the management company, we sent a letter directly to our landlord (we had sent copies of all previous letters to him and not heard from him). Finally, weeks later, he called us and said he had been out of town and just received his mail. He said that he was responsible for the rugs and that he would contact us again in March when he returned.
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby HardKnocks » Sat Feb 28, 2004 6:11 pm

The so-called harshness comes from years of rude upstairs neighbors who feel that paying their rent entitles them to be as loud as they want, at any time of the day or night, without regard to their neighbors because "I pay my rent."

Bare floors magnify sound... it's a simple as that. ESPECIALLY with shoes (even if it's only "half the time," which the OP says is how often they are shoeless). There's a REASON most leases call for 80% of floor space to be covered. It's not for cosmetic purposes. And it's also not just walking that creates intolerable noise when floors are bare. Like I said before, we all drop things... but when I drop something on my covered floor, my downstairs neighbors aren't subjected to a jarring, clanging crash... unlike me, when my upstairs neighbor drops something on her bare floor.

It always amazes me how people are selectively oblivious of their own responsibilty in a situation where simple courtesy and common sense should be assumed--even it's a legal requirement. "What do you MEAN I can't blast my music at 4am? I pay rent here! It's not a PRISON!!!" "I LIKE bare floors! Why should I have to cover them? And if I want to walk around on them in the middle of the night, shoes on or off, that's my right! I pay rent here!"

I pay rent here too. And there's another side to the deceptively innocent "Gee, people do have to walk..." story. Yes, people do have to walk. But not on bare floors, and not with shoes. DUH!!! No one is saying "you can't walk." But just like your lease provides you with certain rights (which I'm sure you insist on receiving), it also contains certain obligations. Covering your floors is one of them. What exactly is the argument?!
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby Lilly » Sun Feb 29, 2004 12:03 am

And I thought I was the only one driven to distraction by my upstairs neighbor. I take my shoes off in the apartment, not only out of courtesy to my downstairs neighbor, but also bc it's cleaner. Personally I wear those foram rubber flip-flops or ugg slippers. BTW, if you're walking barefoot on your bare wood floors and you pound your heels into the floor when you walk, it's just as loud as if you were walking in high heels.
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Re: 80% carpet rule not in our lease but is being enforced

Postby Firepac » Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:22 pm

If it's not stated in your lease then you are under no obligation to install carpets. But that doesn't mean you can stomp on the floor and cause extra noise.
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