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Downstairs neighbors have complained about noise in our apartment.

Bellevue, WA |

our downstairs neighbors are complaining for the third time in the last 3 weeks about noise in our apartment. We are tiptoeing to appease them and now we think it's just harassment on their part, due to the fact they are complaining during the day. The apartments are not made well which is obvious, however we understand and are doing our best to be quiet but I just wanted to know if there is a Harassment law that we can file?

Attorney Answers 3


  1. If all the neighbors are doing is complaining to the landlord or to you, there is nothing that you can do to the neighbors. If you are not making unreasonable noises, you can ignore the neighbors.

    How long have you each lived in your respective units? If you both have lived there a long time, has something changed recently that is transmitting more noises?

    Being able to hear the neighbors is part of living so close to each other.

    Daytime is not a license to make as much noise as one likes. If someone is cranking up the volume on the electronics, the noise likely would be a violation of the city's noise ordinance even if it is in the daytime.

    Do you and the neighbors know each other? If you are up to being neighborly, perhaps talking directly with the neighbors would provide each of you an opportunity to find a way to resolve your differences.


  2. In Washington for there to be an unlawful harassment the following must be met (among other criteria):

    a knowing and willful course of conduct directed at a specific person which seriously alarms, annoys, harasses, or is detrimental to such person, and which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose. The course of conduct shall be such as would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress, and shall actually cause substantial emotional distress to the petitioner, or, when the course of conduct would cause a reasonable parent to fear for the well-being of their child. RCW 10.14.020 (1)

    Note some of the operative terms are "seriously" "annoyed" "which serves no legitimate or lawful purpose" and "suffer substantial emotional distress." At a minimum you would need to prove all of that. Generally a annoying neighbor telling you to be more quiet will not meet this test. However, if such a neighbor is threatening or abusive such that you genuinely "suffer substantial emotional distress," then you might be able pursue a restraining order based on unlawful harassment.

    As suggested by other counsel above, talking things out with your neighbor (if it has not escalated too much) can be a valuable course to take.


  3. I do not believe that the facts ,as you describe them, would sustain a claim for harrassment. However, one option you may have is to talk with your landlord and request that they intervene. Many leases have a "quiet enjoyment" provision wich requires tenants to refrain from doing things which interfere with another tenant's enjoyment and use of their apartment. Recognizing that your neighbors could use these same provisions against you regarding the noise, if you truly believe that you are not making unreasonable noise and your neighbors are being unreasonable, this is an option to consider. You may want to solicit support from other neighbors who could attest to the lack of noise coming from your unit.

    The information contained herein is not an invitation to create an attorney-client relationship, and transmission and receipt of the information does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. While we make every reasonable effort to provide accurate information, the information is not guaranteed to be complete or to reflect the most current legal developments at the time of publication.

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