My neighbours from hell bang my floor whenever I make any noise
‘Us bullying you? You’re terrorising us.’
My neighbour, David* had me backed into a corner of the stairwell of the building we both lived in.
It was only his partner Sarah*, holding him back, that was stopping his vicious verbal attack from becoming physical.
‘Keep your noise down!’ he snarled, before stalking off, leaving me shaking and rushing up to my flat.
The ‘noise’ he was referring to was my aunt, who is recovering from cancer, coming round for a cup of tea at 10am. We’d been sitting, chatting on the sofa when David had started banging violently on our floor.
Something both he and Sarah have done many, many times before. They have become so ferocious, I now fear for my safety on a daily basis and am trying to move.
Since I bought my first flat in 2020, I’ve been harassed by Sarah, who owns the property beneath me.
A few weeks after I moved in, a ‘Congratulations on your new home!’ card came through the door. It was from Sarah, who had written her phone number inside and asked me to call her ‘urgently.’
Worrying that something serious had happened – perhaps a burst pipe – I did. It was then that the manipulation started, as Sarah began telling me how she could ‘hear everything’ and that she was withdrawing a complaint to the council about this flat’s previous owners. The implication was that if I ‘kept it down’, she wouldn’t re-submit this complaint.
As a young woman living alone for the first time – during a pandemic – I felt vulnerable and was keen to feel a sense of community where I lived. I politely entertained her and hoped she wouldn’t bother me.
We went for a few long-distance lockdown walks together, and I offered to get shopping if she ever needed it. Sarah was in her early thirties and seemed a bit intense but mostly harmless.
Sarah began saying things that increasingly made me feel uncomfortable, – making comments about my weight and asking me to move my furniture around my flat to suit her – so I started avoiding her.
I feel sure that over time they’ll regain confidence and become more threatening again
When she could no longer see me in person, she sent constant texts, calls, banging, shouting, slamming doors – all in response to everyday noise like cleaning my bathroom, chatting to a friend in the living room, or going to the toilet at night.
Sarah continually banged underneath my feet, following my movements around my home.
Whenever I have tried to talk to her about how her actions have made me feel, she has brushed it off and said that I’m ‘damaging her health.’
She has mentioned asking the tenant underneath her to move their speaker, but nothing with other neighbours – even though the person across from her has a dog that constantly barks and they leave litter outside her door all the time.
Always polite, I began tiptoeing around, attempting to be as silent as I could. Nothing was good enough.
I have an anxiety disorder and instead of having my usual amount of infrequent episodes, I began to shake just walking around my home. Beyond curling up into a ball, there was nothing I could’ve done to be quieter.
She texted a couple times a week, calling when I ignored her texts. I never picked up the phone, and the texts were long rambling details about her life, her health, her family, how hard a time she was having – and how I was making everything feel worse.
When I blocked her number, the noise intensified.
I couldn’t sleep for days, jumping at every noise and looking over my shoulder in public
After two months, I began keeping a diary of incidents and video recordings of the sound, and sought mediation through the local council.
As a result, Sarah agreed to stop and only contact me about building matters. She stopped banging for a while, but when time passed she regained confidence and started up again, ignoring her agreement and sending me long rambling letters about her life.
I also started getting an overwhelming smell of acetone throughout my flat, so strong, I’d get unbearable headaches and be left unable to eat.
A professional investigated and confirmed it was coming from Sarah’s flat, something she denied.
A small stain appeared on Sarah’s ceiling and she demanded I pay £400 to repair it, even though plumbers couldn’t confirm it came from my property. When I asked for a quote breakdown, she sent long, rambling letters accusing me of ‘not being amicable’.
Trying to find a compromise, I asked if we could go through home insurance and she refused, finally saying she would foot the bill as a ‘goodwill gesture’. This was communicated through long, emotional letters. I dreaded coming home, wondering when another would appear.
Then David moved in with her and, with him, her banging was now accompanied by ‘Shut the f**k up!’
As instructed by the police when I’d previously asked them for advice, I always call 101 when this happens – usually shaking and crying with fear. I expressed concerns that this man would become violent towards me, but police advised me to go back to mediation.
It was during the wait for another mediation appointment, that we bumped into each other in the stairwell. I stepped back to let them pass and he began shouting and swearing in my face. The way Sarah moved between us to hold him off made me suspect she was used to him being violent.
‘Stop bullying me,’ I called back as I left. This is the most confrontational I have ever been with them. It was then that he accused me of ‘terrorising’ them, calling me a ‘c**t’.
I couldn’t sleep for days, jumping at every noise and looking over my shoulder in public. Having those two living beneath me feels like a constant threat to my safety.
I called 101 and the police sent two officers to visit me the next day.
Police took statements and warned the man not to approach me. An officer later phoned me, saying that hopefully this would ‘at least’ keep them from harassing me ‘during the Christmas period’. Like me, this officer clearly suspects it won’t be the last time I hear from them.
Since Christmas, they haven’t been doing their violent banging on the ceiling, but sometimes when I’m in the living room – working or having a friend over – they will do this constant gentle tapping. Light enough so they could claim it was housework, but it seems too coincidental that it happens every time I am making a slight bit of everyday noise in my living room.
I feel sure that over time they’ll regain confidence and become more threatening again.
I feel helpless even though I’ve been doing all the ‘right’ things – keeping evidence, contacting my MP, seeking support from charities and advice from solicitors.
We are private tenants so there is little that can be done outside of paying a lawyer to issue a cease and desist letter. I just have to record everything and be ready to phone 999 if something else happens. I don’t know what the answer is but there has to be a better way to protect people from abusive neighbours.
My family understands why I want to move, but are angry that I’m being bullied out of a flat that I once loved. I haven’t moved before this point because I’m a young woman with a busy full-time job, limited disposable income and have had to take time to save money. I previously thought that this issue could be resolved through mediation. I was wrong.
The property hunt is not going well, but I’m trying to stay optimistic. I am concerned about new buyers being put off by the situation downstairs and I don’t blame them – I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I have.
I do worry I will be stuck here, going through a cycle of abuse.
I have regular calls with a victim support charity, and a number of personal alarms in place. With fierce support from friends, family and colleagues, I’m determined not to let these abusive neighbours stop me living my life.
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