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While residing in close quarters has its advantages (it’s nice to know that someone is always around in case of an emergency), living the apartment life comes with its challenges, one of which is the nightmare neighbor.
Chances are you’re familiar with at least one of the four scenarios below depicting a difficult neighbor. Take note of what you can do to alleviate some of the most common complaints among New York City dwellers, because one could eventually happen to you.
As long as a homeowner takes the correct steps –– hires an architect, receives board approval, gets necessary permits, etc. –– renovating an apartment is perfectly legal. Damaging your unit in the process, however, is not.
A good neighbor will bring a remodeling project to your attention before the first hammer swings. Often the condition of neighboring apartments is documented through photos and videos, along with the unit being renovated. If you run into issues with damages, call 311 immediately. Depending on the circumstances, a building inspector will visit the job site, and the contractor/owner could be fined.
If noise is the issue, try and settle it privately with your neighbor. Contractors should be working within the hours permitted, which for many buildings is between the hours of 9am and 5pm Monday through Friday, so there’s not a whole lot you can do if the construction is happening between those hours. If you hear disruptive noise before or after these hours, or on weekends, reach out to your managing agent immediately to nip the problem in the bud.
The irresponsible pet owner
Tired of listening to your neighbor’s dog bark at odd hours? You can report the noise to the City of NY. Be sure to provide the address and your name if you want the barking to stop.
The Department of Environmental Protection should send a letter to the dog’s owner within seven days, along with suggestions how to curtail the barking. If they’ve sent a letter before, they may come to the site and do a noise inspection.
Blaring television? Vibrating music? Yelling or loud conversation? You can report these and other non—emergency noises and the police will respond to your complaint when they are not handling urgent matters.
You may want to start with your landlord, super, or managing agent before you involve the law, however. Try making a complaint with your building first, and if the noise doesn’t stop, contact NYC.gov.
Smoking is illegal in public spaces such as halls, elevators, and lobbies of buildings with 10 or more apartments. Unfortunately, smokers have a right to light up inside their unit –– but when cigarette, cigar, or another type of smoke is affecting your wellbeing, you have a right to speak up.
It’s best to document when smoke enters your unit and the inconvenience or health issues it’s causing you and your family. Try and resolve matters with your neighbor, if possible, and involve your landlord or super if you need to. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to hire an attorney to be sure you know your rights. A lawyer can advise you on next steps. In the meantime, check out these links below.