You’re sitting in your living room. It’s a beautiful spring Sunday. You’ve just come home from a two-hour bike ride and you’re ready for a shower and a nap. You clean up and lie down. The breeze is coming in through the window and caressing you.
But just as you fall off to sleep, the screaming and screeching starts. It’s those kids from next door playing in their half of the interior courtyard that faces your bedroom. It sounds like a cross between Peter Pan and the Spanish Inquisition. What’s a cooperator to do?
We all know how to handle a noisy neighbor in the rarefied world of a New York City co-op or condominium; a discreet email to the managing agent with CC’s to the board members and a plea to avoid ugly and loud conflict with your neighbor by having the “management” intervene. But what do you do when the problem is coming from the building next door?
Maintaining the Peace
New York City’s noise code (Local Law 113 of 2005) went into effect on July 1, 2007. The legislation establishes a flexible, yet enforceable noise code that responds to the need for peace and quiet while maintaining New York's reputation as the "city that never sleeps." It covers everything from construction noise to your neighbor’s iPod speakers. City residents are advised to direct their noise complaints to 311, the city’s catch-all for non-emergency and quality-of-life issues. They in turn will direct your complaint to the appropriate agency including the New York City Police Department (NYPD).
Short of filing a complaint that can result in a police visit, there are a couple of less aggressive options. One is the New York Peace Institute. a non-profit dedicated to settling public disputes through mediation. It’s confidential and it’s free. Funded by the mayor’s office and private donations, they specialize in conflict resolutions.