City dwellers are continually assaulted by sound — traffic, construction, the neighbor’s music, you name it. And noise is an especially sensitive issue within cooperatives and condominiums, where complaints about noisy neighbors can create disputes among residents. Unfortunately, noise is a highly subjective issue, and conflicts can become extremely difficult to resolve. The legal system may be the only remedy to the situation, but this should be a last resort.
Many times, an issue involving noise is a judgment call. One way to discover the validity of a complaint is to determine if the person raising the issue has previously objected to events taking place in the building. If the person is not prone to complaining, something may well have happened to disturb a resident’s normal living habits, causing lack of sleep or disrupting the quality of life. If a condo or co-op board ignores a legitimate complaint, the residents could be forced to turn to the legal system.
Mediate v. Litigate
Mediation is the most acceptable method of resolving a noise dispute. Most of the time, the people involved are neighbors who will continue to live in the building and interact with each other. Since turning to litigation can cause friends or acquaintances to turn against each other, residents in a noise dispute should try everything in their power to demonstrate the validity of the issue to the condo or co-op board before resorting to litigation.
Residents should also try to resolve their differences without involving the board, since formal complaints may hamper their chances of selling their apartment in the future and even decrease the value of their asset.
Regardless, everyone involved, from the neighbors and the managing agent to the board, should appreciate the seriousness of the issue and try to resolve the problem without forcing one party to resort to litigation. Mediation is almost always a better solution to noise disputes.