New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Getting Your Noise Out of Joint

The first noise-ordinance update in three decades was enacted in 2005 and took effect this past July 1. What’s all the racket about? Called Local Law 113 of 2005, the updated ordinance aims mostly at commercial establishments, construction, and vehicles. Primarily, it upped the fines and changed the way police or environmental-protection agents measure noise coming from clubs and bars and such. In the case where a co-op or condo houses such a business, it’s the owner who’s responsible for keeping noise below a threshold of being “plainly audible” from 15 feet away.

Likewise, if you hire a contractor to, say, put in a new sidewalk, he or she is the one responsible. Furthermore, the law says they have to create “a noise mitigation plan for each construction site,” with a copy of the plan kept available at the site.

If your super or other staff uses an air compressor, it needs to be equipped “with an appropriate muffler.” You also can’t have lawn work done on weekdays before 8 A.M., or after 7 P.M. or sunset, whichever comes later, nor on weekends and state/federal holidays except between 9 A.M. and 6 P.M. Also, that central air conditioner unit your building might have on the roof, for cooling the lobby and other common areas, falls under the heading of “circulation devices,” none of which can create sound above a certain level as measured from three feet inside an apartment with a window or terrace door open. (It’s a weighted spec of “42 dB(A),” which you can have someone measure with a decibel meter if someone complains about the noise.)

Co-ops have been required to respond to noise complains ever since the 1995 case Nostrand Gardens Co-op vs. Howard, in which the co-op was found at fault for not having taken “effective steps” to abate the nuisance after a shareholder repeatedly reported “excessive noise emanating from an apartment … throughout the late night and early morning hours.”

None of the ordinance details are hush-hush, so you can get all the specifics at this page:

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