My girlfriend and I moved into an apartment in Minnesota a few months ago. Our lease ends in 9 months. The neighbors below us have a ceiling fan that creates a distinct humming noise when operating.
This hum is not very loud or easy to measure, but it is akin to the hum of a refrigerator or speaker. Our phones have noise canceling mics, which obviously don't pick it up. You know, the kind of the thing you don't immediately notice, but after days and days of exposure
, it slowly becomes intolerable. It is difficult to drown out the noise due to the frequency. We can run fans loudly or wear ear plugs, but that's obviously not a sustainable way to live in your apartment all weekend. Even then, due to the frequency, it can be difficult to mask the hum.
The apartment below us is owned by a different landlord than our landlord. They agreed to meet to hear the noise, and while they could hear it, they felt it was subtle enough that neither was willing to incur any expense to fix it. The fan is also apparently required to be run due to the heating situation in the loft below us. Both claimed they were losing money on their properties (and talked at length about all the fees and such they are getting screwed by) and that they were not willing to invest money to fix an issue they felt was something we could manage with earplugs, fans, or as their landlord stated "meditation exercises." They both were unwilling to spend money on something that is our issue alone and that previous tenants had not heard. Of course, this ignores that the fan is 15 years old and perhaps it's a new issue, but she's convinced the fan is in perfect operation.
My girlfriend is a research scientist with a background in neuroscience, and attempted to present the peer reviewed literature on low frequency noises and the subsequent health impacts, but both turned an ironic
deaf ear to this plea. I'm a registered nurse with tinnitus, and I attempted to leverage that this causes more distress with that, but again, no fucks to give. We tried.
So we asked if the fan cannot be fixed, and must be run, then we be released from our lease due to the nuisance it creates for us. However, our landlord is very reluctant to this and basically said he's unwilling to even consider that until the spring. In the meantime, the fan runs, we're being driven crazy by it, and we hate our apartment. We both have appointments with the doctor to for sleep medication and are genuinely anxious to return home and spend time in our humming apartment.
Our options are as follows:
1) Suck it up buttercup.
2) Pay for 100% of repairs ourselves. A new ceiling fan and professional installation could run $500 or more
, as the landlord below us will only accept the highest level replacement. That's over half our rent for the studio apartment. This is the simple solution, but feels unethical that we must pay to repair her property.
3) Create a case that this low frequency hum is indeed a nuisance and thus we are not obligated to the terms of our remaining lease.
We genuinely favor option 3, because the way we've been treated is like WE are the nuisance. Our landlord has been very disrespectful, slow to respond, and very defensive, often citing how "above and beyond" he's been regarding this issue. He owns several properties, this one is obviously a loser for him (by his own admission), so we're kind of low on the totem pole. Being met with such resistance and defensive tone, often raising his voice at us like we are children, means we're pretty over negotiations right now. Even if we fix this fan, at our expense, what happens with the next issue down the road?
If anyone can advise us on what we can do, that would be great. Obviously our lease is tremendously landlord friendly, tethering us to obligations for leaving without proper clause. However, we very firmly believe that the low frequency hum is indeed a nuisance and that it is negatively impacting our lives. If this is an impossible fight, what are our rights regarding the noise? How do we proceed appropriately?
TLDR: Neighbors ceiling fan creates low frequency hum driving us slowly insane. It is required to run, even in winter. Landlords saying we must pay for all repairs, as they are unwilling to accommodate issues that only impact us.