German sole: Man bests downstairs neighbor in loud footstep court battle

Reuters / Kim Kyung-Hoon
A pair of German pensioners on the wrong end of their neighbors allegedly heavy footsteps will have to take it all in stride, after the country’s highest court ruled that the man’s resounding gait was in line with the law.

The conflict came to a head in the German seaside resort of Travemünde, on the Baltic Sea. The dueling neighbors are residents of the Maritim complex, a 30 story, 70s-era building, which houses 320 apartments.

The bone of contention was one less of decorum and more of decor; namely, whether the upstairs neighbor had gotten off on the wrong foot by ripping up the carpet and opting for parquet flooring.

The case, which came before The Federal Supreme Court (BGH) in Karlsruhe, argued both that the resident had no right to uproot the carpet due to the upscale nature of the apartment, and that in doing so, he was violating the noise ordinance.

Both the arguments, however, fell on deaf ears.

The court said that his footsteps fell within the maximum level of 63 decibels. A normal conversation, meanwhile, is anywhere between 60-65 decibels, while a telephone dial tone is 80 decibels.

As for the “binding upscale” amenities, the court ruled that the buildings designation as an upmarket complex did not entail that the floors remain carpeted, even if they were “chic in the 70s”, the Local's German edition cites Judge Christina Stresemann as saying.

The defendant’s legal council also noted that 53 apartments in the building already had installed different types of flooring.