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By John R. Merlino Jr. Esq.
Founding Attorney

What are my rights as a tenant in New York if my neighbor is excessively loud?

If you live in and around New York City, chances are you live in close proximity to others.  While some neighbors can become wonderful friends, we have all likely had at least one neighbor that caused us troubles.  Noise from a neighbor is a common complaint, and sometimes it will give rise to legal rights.  If you are a tenant plagued by an unreasonably loud neighbor, read on to find out more about your potential legal rights.

The Warranty of Habitability

In most jurisdictions, the courts will read into any residential lease an implied warranty of habitability.  This warranty holds that the landlord must ensure the property is habitable, or livable, clean, and safe.  The warranty of habitability can extend to a wide range of conditions that impede your peaceful enjoyment of the property, including noise.
If severe noise is keeping you up at night or preventing you from enjoying your home, the noise may present a violation to your warranty of habitability.  You can start by notifying your landlord of the issue.  Your landlord may be able to better soundproof the apartment or work with the offending neighbor to correct the issue.
If your landlord does not take action, then you may need to escalate the issue to court.  It is important to note that New York courts have previously held that those living in an urban environment are expected to tolerate a certain level of noise.  Ordinary noise is therefore rarely actionable, but excessive noise may be.  Your real estate lawyer will help you to assess whether you have a viable action for a breach of warranty of habitability.
In addition to noise, a breach of the warranty of habitability could occur due to:

  • Water leaks
  • No water or lack of hot water
  • Heat that does not work
  • Electrical problems
  • Rats or vermin issues
  • Roaches
  • Mold
  • Broken toilets, sinks, or showers
  • Window problems

Generally, any condition that presents a danger to your health or safety, or makes the building unlivable, could be deemed to violate the warranty of habitability. Contact a real estate attorney right away if you feel that your landlord is not taking the appropriate action to correct a serious and problematic matter with the home.

About the Author
John is a fierce advocate and the office guru for problem-solving and brainstorming. He guides clients through every stage of a real estate transaction from offer to contract, navigating through nerve-shattering home inspection and title clearance concerns, maintaining constant contact with lenders, conducting the actual closing, and continuing to advise clients with regard to any post-closing concerns.  John brings a practical and fair-minded approach to the process which has earned him the respect of his clients and peers.