FREDERICKSBURG, VA (WWBT) - A Fredericksburg woman calls 12 On Your Side because she says she can't find peace in her own home. She says there is a knocking sound inside the walls of her apartment, and she has been dealing with it for months.
"Its affecting my work quality, because I'm not getting a good night's sleep. It's affecting my patience with people," said Shelby Banis.
Banis says the knocking in her walls happens at different times of the day. The worst is around 4 o'clock in the morning.
"You'll hear intense knocking, and I wake up and I can't get back to sleep, because I'm already awake," said Banis.
It also drives her dog Phoebe crazy.
"We could just be laying around, and the noise will happen, and she'll pace around, she'll whine," said Banis
Banis says she first complained about the noise to management at the Kensington Crossing Apartments in Fredericksburg in September. Workers say they couldn't hear it.
"So then November came around, and I was like, 'I can't handle this, I'm starting to get woken up in the middle of the night.' So I put in another work order."
A month later, maintenance workers determined the noise was created by cold water running through the stack pipes in her bathroom.
"Then I get an email that evening, saying it's the pipes, there's nothing that we can do," said Banis.
So Banis complained to the company's regional manager, who reiterated the same thing. Part of an email response says:
"Unfortunately, there is not much more that we can do on our end, other than opening up several bathroom walls and possibly replacing the pipe, which is a big undertaking."
And an expensive one too. That regional manager did follow up her email with a visit to Banis' apartment in person in January.
"They stood in my bedroom while the noise was happening to deem whether it was loud enough to wake me up or if they thought that it was a normal apartment noise," said Banis.
"As I mentioned, the sound that I heard is no louder than if you had someone walking above you with a squeaky floor," the regional manager said in an email. "I do not think that this noise is unbearable and does not warrant a concession."
While NBC12's Eric Philips was at the apartment, he wanted to see if he could hear the noise. Philips went upstairs and asked the neighbor to turn on the cold water in the shower. He heard the loud knocking sound when he came back downstairs.
Management did give Banis the option of moving into another larger apartment - for $50 more a month. Banis said she couldn't afford the move.
NBC12 spoke to the regional manager by telephone. She said none of the apartments are soundproof, and even if she moves into a different unit, Banis may find another noise unacceptable.
At this point, Banis plans to move when her lease is up in four months.
"This isn't normal, and I'm paying for something - such as a quiet apartment, or at least a livable apartment - and I'm not receiving that, and nobody seems to understand that," said Banis.
By Virginia law, landlords must follow all building codes and provide a dwelling that is "habitable and fit." If you think that's not happening, notify your landlord in writing.
Ultimately, you can pay your rent into a court escrow and let a judge decides what should happen, but you must be current on your rent before taking that step.
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