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Elderly neighbours - revolting noise and how to deal with it?

(70 Posts)
chompychompychompchomp Sun 15-Jan-17 18:54:53

Evening all -sorry, it's a bit long...

Not sure if I am being unreasonable in feeling so utterly fed up and disgusted by my new neighbours so need some advice/ bringing down to earth / support from those who agree with me to give me the go-ahead to speak with them again.

We've lived here, in our flat for three years. The upstairs flat is rented and we've seen various people come and go - all very lovely - usually quite short term lets. An elderly couple (early 70s) moved in in November. We instantly thought how friendly and lovely they were and made small-talk whenever we saw them in the communal area. However, the moment they moved in we also heard very loud coughing, clearing of throat and throwing up occurring - like clockwork - every few hours or so throughout the day and night (think midnight, 3am, 5am, 7am etc - regularly and continuing day and night) It's really revolting. You can't escape it in our flat. The sound seems to echo throughout.

Each time it starts with coughing / sneezing repeatedly for five mins, then clearing of lungs and spitting (proper yakking up) for ten minutes, then there's the throwing up for about twenty minutes (proper heaving). They don't smoke and both seem lively and healthy, fit and able whenever we've seen/ chatted to them.

I think it's the man who does this as his wife seems to go out to work for most of the day. He stays at home pretty much most of the time. He is clearly quite unwell and we feel sorry that he is living with whatever it is he has. Even so, this hacking and vomiting wakes us up, keeps us awake, makes us jump out of our skin (it's THAT loud), and has put some of our friends off from visiting (if it's heard during dinner, for example, it puts us all off our food)

I've spoken with his wife and asked if he's OK as we have been able to hear him coughing and being sick. She said he's fine. Looked at me like I was crazy...this was Christmas time.

So, is it a physical illness or a habit (perhaps cultural? They're from Sri Lanka)?

Cleanliness is also an issue. There are three flats in total in this block (so quite small) and both we and our neighbours downstairs tend to keep the property clean. Since the couple upstairs moved in we have had to regularly clean up piles of food that have appeared in the communal hallway or on the stairs as well as toe nail clippings, what looks like hairballs and the bin area absolutely stinks and we've had maggots in there. The couple upstairs don't use bin bags, they just chuck rotting food and other rubbish directly into the bins. When they moved in I showed them which bin was there's (clearly labelled) but they sometimes don't use it, choosing to use our bin instead.

Should I approach them again and if so what should I say? Should I just accept that he's unwell and leave it? It's driving us all mad and we loose sleep most nights due to his coughing/ vomiting.

Sorry if this seems petty, but both DH and I swing between saying let's leave it, he's unwell or getting so worked up by being woken up/ put off our dinner that we just want to go round there all guns blazing.

Thanks x

VimFuego101 Sun 15-Jan-17 18:56:27

I would get in touch with the letting agent/ landlord.

feesh Sun 15-Jan-17 19:01:01

I think it's probably cultural - I live in the Middle East but there are lots of people from Sri Lanka here and I see/hear that kind of grossness a lot. They find us blowing our nose in public disgusting - it's just what's culturally acceptable in one part of the world may not be in another.

I don't know what you can do though; they're unlikely to change the habit of a lifetime.

And the bin thing - you are just going to have to be ruthlessly assertive with them and spell it out that it's absolutely utterly unacceptable.

I feel really sorry for you; I don't know what I would do in your situation as I think you're going to have a hard time getting them to change their ways - I would honestly probably just start looking for a new place sad

feesh Sun 15-Jan-17 19:02:19

I think you are going to have to be pretty assertive with them about the noises as well - otherwise they probably genuinely won't see the issue. Say that you find it disgusting and upsetting and play them a recording of how it sounds from your flat.

chompychompychompchomp Sun 15-Jan-17 19:06:06

Thanks so far x

We thought about contacting their landlord but thought it would sound weird 'Your tenants are phlegming and vomiting and it's disgusting, please tell them to stop'.

Actually we are considering moving soon-ish anyway, so don't want to officially make a complaint as we'll have to declare it. But - we're a little concerned that potential buyers will also hear this noise when they come to view the property ...

brasty Sun 15-Jan-17 19:06:09

The bin thing is disgusting.
Hacking to that degree can be caused by lung damage. Very common with some kinds of lung damage, especially the throwing up sound. If he has that, there is nothing he can do about it. And he could very well look fit and healthy.

CaoNiMa Sun 15-Jan-17 19:06:32

I would have said cultural if it weren't for the vomiting. I lived overseas and would be woken every morning by all the old men in the lane hawking phlegm.

(I fear I have just been ageist and racist there.)

It sounds like the man could be ill and his wife is in denial. It's hard to know. A polite word about the mess in the communal area could be a good idea.

chompychompychompchomp Sun 15-Jan-17 19:06:42

Ooo a recording sounds a good idea!

John4703 Sun 15-Jan-17 19:10:37

I agree with VimFuego101 you need to contact the letting agent about the mess in the hallway or bin store. I'm not sure they can do anything about the noises but if you keep moaning about the mess they might not renew the lease.

chompychompychompchomp Sun 15-Jan-17 19:10:44

DH thinks it a habit as he said he sees the man outside a bit and he never coughs/ hacks/ etc unless he's at home. Or, it could be something that he has control over.

His wife being in denial is interesting. When DH once asked her if an old suitcase that was left in the hallway belonged to them a day after they moved in, she said it didn't but then picked it up and put it in the bin..!

maddiemookins16mum Sun 15-Jan-17 19:12:06

The food and nail clippings is vile BUT my elderly mum had COPD, there was a lot of hacking and spitting. I feel for you. The rubbish is a problem to be dealt with, not sure about a possible medical condition.

maras2 Sun 15-Jan-17 19:12:11

Sounds like ritual cleansing before praying.

MistyMinge Sun 15-Jan-17 19:12:29

Oh god that sounds grim and I can understand how it would drive you mad over a period of time. But realistically I'm not sure there's anything you can do. If he has to clear his throat and vomit due to illness or whatever then he won't be able to suddenly stop.

However, the bin bag issue you can try and tackle. Speak to your landlord/agents. Take pictures of the mess.

chompychompychompchomp Sun 15-Jan-17 19:15:50

They are Christians though so I'm not sure it is ritual or religious-based.
Yeah, the toe nails and food thing is disgusting. DH brought in a huge thick decaying toe nail the other day found on the stairs. Not funny!

happy2bhomely Sun 15-Jan-17 19:17:21

I have had 2 neighbours that have done this.

The first was an elderly man with emphysema and he did it several times a day.

The other is my current neighbour. He does it every single morning as part of his morning bathroom routine. It got to the point that we swapped bedrooms with our son, because I couldn't suffer it any longer! DS doesn't seem to notice so much.

No advice, sorry. Just wanted to let you know that you are not alone!

brasty Sun 15-Jan-17 19:21:19

Yes someone with lung damage may do this first thing in the morning and not cough later on. The vomiting sound means he may actually be doing physio exercises to clear his lungs in the morning.

whatsthepointofmorgan Sun 15-Jan-17 19:24:46

The couple upstairs don't use bin bags, they just chuck rotting food and other rubbish directly into the bins.

Stop being so nice saying it's 'cultural differences', they're dirty sods. end of.

brasty Sun 15-Jan-17 19:25:04

And if it is due to lung damage, he will find it far more distressing to have, than you do to hear him.

Vanillamanilla1 Sun 15-Jan-17 19:27:17

I worked with a Sri lankan he'd constantly go in the toilet and hack away and spit the contents down the loo
Not discreetly either , it was a very small office and I could hear him from my desk . Maybe it is a cultural thing
The vomiting thing is weird tho

whatsthepointofmorgan Sun 15-Jan-17 19:28:36

I worked with a Sri lankan he'd constantly go in the toilet and hack away and spit the contents down the loo

That's disgusting and not fair on the other workers.

drivingmisspotty Sun 15-Jan-17 19:28:37

Have you had problems in the past with noise from upstairs neighbours? It sounds odd if it carries all through your flat and you can't escape it. Perhaps ask the landlord about soundproofing as you would with any other noise.

I do really feel for you, this noise would really turn my stomach I'd find it so hard to cope with and would be looking into moving asap.

herecomesthsun Sun 15-Jan-17 19:31:15

He may have bronchiectasis. It is not pleasant. Do you think someone would intentionally have phlegm in their chest just to annoy you?

There is a description of respiratory disease where mucus or phlegm collects as being like "drowning from the inside".

Phlegm can collect more at night/ early morning, there's an issue about lying down.

chompychompychompchomp Sun 15-Jan-17 19:34:15

It's almost as if he's coughing and hacking so much it makes him sick.

Never had a problem with noise from other neighbours, upstairs or otherwise. The property is really well sound insulated but his noise is just so unbelievably loud. And it really makes your jump, even now when we expect it to happen every couple of hours. We're always on edge - just waiting for the next round...

chompychompychompchomp Sun 15-Jan-17 19:36:24

No, of course I don't think he's doing it intentionally, though was wondering if it was an illness or a habit. Consensus is it's probably an illness and so we will have to move.

Atenco Sun 15-Jan-17 19:41:26

Have you had problems in the past with noise from upstairs neighbours? It sounds odd if it carries all through your flat and you can't escape it. Perhaps ask the landlord about soundproofing as you would with any other noise

As per usual modern flats are designed for you to learn all the intimate details of your neighbours lives.

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