The Apartment Building Next Door Won’t Shut Up!


Q: An apartment tower near me has some sort of loose machinery, perhaps in an elevator shaft on the roof, that makes a noise all day long. It’s loud enough to wake me up at night. I left messages with the building’s management, but they went unanswered. What are the building’s responsibilities in terms of neighbors’ right to silence, and what are my options and rights to get them to eliminate this loud and intrusive noise? Which city agencies should know about this?

A: The tricky thing here is that you are not dealing with a noisy neighbor, who can simply be told to shut up, but a noisy building.

The first step in dealing with this would be to “go to the source and contact the neighboring building that is generating the noise,” said Ingrid Manevitz, a real estate attorney and a partner at the law firm Seyfarth Shaw.

The New York City noise code includes separate sections on, among other things, residential noise (“residents seek relief from city noise”) and noise generated by outdoor heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment.

“Noise that wakes you up from your sleep and disturbs other neighbors in your building probably qualifies as excessive and unreasonable, and would be a violation of the noise code,” Ms. Manevitz said.

Since you’ve already tried to get the building’s management to take action, the next step would be to call New York’s 311 hotline and register a noise complaint. “If the noise is at a level that’s above the permitted decibel levels for that zone — depending on whether it’s a commercial zone, manufacturing zone, residential — the city will come in and issue a violation,” says Lisa A. Smith, ‘ a real estate agent. attorney and partner at the firm of Smith, Gambrell & Russell.

Ms Smith also recommended organizing a group of neighbors disturbed by the noise to file complaints en masse, which could help speed up the process. “It may require multiple calls for a city inspector to be dispatched to the site,” she said. “However, this is probably the easiest and cheapest way for the neighboring building to address the problem.”

In addition to a noise complaint, if it’s a case of faulty machinery, you and your neighbors can call 311 to notify the Department of Buildings of possible “illegal/unsafe construction work and improper building use.”

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