Her stomping is so violent that it causes the light fixture in my bedroom to vibrate. I have noticed that she does this only when she realizes I am home. If she doesn't know I am home she walks normally. Moreover, over the past few weeks, on a nightly basis, she has starting stomping and dragging something across the floor between 1.00 and 4.30 a.m. which disrupts my sleep and is beginning to impact my work. For example, on May 6, 2012 I was awakened 3 times by her stomping and dragging. The first time was approximately 1.30, then 2.30 then 4.30 a.m. Consequently, the following morning I overslept and was late for work. On two separate occasions I have yelled at her to "knock it off" to which she effectively responded by becoming more menacing and stomping with greater frequency.
Yes, you could possibly file a lawsuit based upon private nuisance.
If you and your upstairs neighbor are both tenants of the same landlord, I would suggest you notify the landlord of this situation. Under California law, all leases have the implied covenant of "quiet enjoyment". (California Civil Code, § 1927). The landlord (and management company) has the duty to preserve the quiet enjoyment of all tenants. (Davis v. Gomez (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1401, 1404.)
If you and your upstairs neighbor are part of the same HOA, there are often nuisance provisions found in CC&Rs that give HOAs the right to fine owners and, if necessary, go into court for an order against the offending party. Check your HOA's CC&Rs to see if there is a provision granting an easement of quiet enjoyment. Quiet enjoyment is the right of a property owner or tenant to enjoy his or her property in peace without interference. Disruption of quiet enjoyment may constitute a nuisance, which is generally prohibited in the CC&Rs. It is up to the HOA board to enforce the rules. Because a nuisance is largely subjective, HOAs are not obligated to become involved in disputes where the noise causes mere inconvenience. However, if in the HOA board's opinion a nuisance exists, it may send a cease and desist letter or, following a noticed hearing, impose fines, suspend privileges, and/or take legal action.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
I agree you should speak to your landlord about your situation. In addition to a cause of action for breach of covenant of quiet enjoyment, you have possible causes of action for breach of warranty of habitability, private nuisance, and constructive eviction. Your landlord has an obligation to guarantee quiet enjoyment for all tenants, so he has an incentive to apply pressure to the offending tenant to have her cease and desist her obnoxious behavior.
This response is for information purpose only and does not constitute a legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship.