I need feedback: I have been renting apartment for more then 10 years and I have people living in apartment above mine who are noisy, they do not care if it is past 10pm or 5 in the morning. I contacted them first, asking nicely to be considerate. It did not help, I contacted the landlord after that many times, I get reply that he will investigate. I called 311 and filed complains but all continues as it was. What should I do to make this stop?
You made the right first step by contacting the landlord. (Make sure that you notify them in writing if you haven't already.) Chances are they are the ones that should bear the burden of dealing with your noisy neighbor, however, you do have a few options of your own. I suggest that you document everything (including the nature, scope and duration of the noises, and your contacts with the landlord), take a look at the terms of your lease, and contact a local landlord/tenant attorney.
They will probably ask you for more information about what kind of noises you hear, how frequent they are, and how often they occur between 10 pm and 5 am. This will help determine whether the noises are serious enough to support a lawsuit against the landlord if he fails to act on your complaints. There are a few possible avenues: a simple cease and desist letter from an attorney may motivate your landlord to act on the complaint, or your attorney can bring a nuisance action against the noisy neighbor, or a claim for constructive eviction or breach of the warranty of habitability against the landlord.
If you are rent stabilized (I see you've been there 10 + years) DO NOT GIVE UP YOUR APARTMENT. Rent stabilized units that have been occupied by the same tenant for 10 + years are likely well under market price, and you may not be able to replace this unit if you move. That said, noise problems are really hard - the advice pertaining to noise given by the other attorney's is correct - i.e. there are codes against amplified and machine generated noise in terms of decibel levels and times of day. But if this noise is from "normal living activities" you're going to have a hard time. I suggest, at least for now, keeping a very accurate sound log. Tenants who go to court to complain about noise without precise information of when (date and time) and what type of noise and how loud (I suggest you get a decibel tester a/k/a sound meter a/k/a decibel meter and keep written evidence of readings) do not fair well, because sound level is otherwise very hard to describe to a judge. Later, if this winds up in court, you will likely need an expert to, at the very least, confirm calibration of the device and explain the readings and the effect of such noise. Keep complaining to the landlord in writing, by certified mail with return receipt requested (green card), so you can prove notice was given and landlord failed to correct the recurring condition. An objective reading of the level of noise will also help determine whether you have a case or not. Court cases involving noise typically recognize that People who live in apartments in NYC are not entitled to "tomb quiet" apartments - the very nature of living in an apartment building is that you will be subjected to some noise from your neighbors. In extreme situations, we would bring a nuisance action against the tenant making the noise and a breach of lease action against the landlord in a single case (2 defendants) - this can be expensive because it must be brought in Supreme Court (you will be seeking, amongst other relief, and injunction against the tenant enjoining further noise that either violates the codes or substantially interferes with your ability to use your apartment for its intended residential purposes). Otherwise, the landlord typically claims they cannot do anything to help you and the tenant ignores your requests for quiet - having two parties in this type of lawsuit can help to get things settled in a way where everyone has obligations. For example, the landlord may agree to enforce a padding/carpeting rule in the lease (many, if not most, residential NYC leases require the tenant to have 70% to 80% of their flooring covered with padding and rugs and this can go a long way to eliminate noise) and the tenant may agree not to violate the noise code or make unreasonable noises after 10pm - you will then have an agreement that you can enforce in court. But going to trial on these types of cases for "normal living activities" noise (even if it is loud) can be a nightmare - we had clients come in to our office with a losing decision from Supreme Court even though the coop tenant-shareholder upstairs was using a commercial grade washing machine that caused so much vibration it caused cracks in the paint of their apartment wall below the machine. The clients (who were also coop owners-shareholders) ultimately wound up soundproofing their apartment using special drop ceilings and insulation to remedy the problem and the tenant upstairs agreed to use special anti vibration pads under the machine. If they did not commence the action and at least try to prevail, they would probably not have gotten the cooperation of the tenant upstairs or permission from the coop to soundproof.
You do not explain what they are exactly doing, so I will speak in the general: for amplified music, there are usually ordinances and they can be cited by the cops, and you can sue them for Nuisance and Interference with the Right to Quiet Enjoyment. People noise is much harder to prove actionable. Kid noise is usually not actionable. Dogs barking is totally actionable. You can have a local lawyer send them a legal letter and see if that gets their attention. That lawyer can also send the landlord a letter. If it does not work, take your lease to a local landlord/tenant attorney to get advice on breaking the lease with the minimal amount of cost and liability--never do this on your own.
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