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CONDO AND COOP RULES OF THUMB, ENSURING PEACE AND QUIET: HOW DO YOU HANDLE UNRULY NEIGHBORS AND THEIR GUESTS?

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When you live in an urban setting, you expect a certain amount of noise and excitement, even at home.  Yet, even for those of us that live in buildings and share walls with our nearest neighbors, some chaos is too much, whether it be your neighbor’s sound system, barking dog, or revolving door of guests, some of whom may be disruptive.  In a condominium or cooperative building, dealing with conflicts such as these gets sticky – after all, you live in the same building and no matter how large the building, odds are you will run into this person from time to time. Sometimes, there are simple solutions – talking to your neighbor, or your condo or coop board, or if all else fails, making a formal noise complaint.

If talking to your neighbor or building or a filing a noise complaint are unsuccessful, you may be able to pursue other legal avenues.  For instance, if your building has a problem with an illegal Airbnb operator or sublet, you will be protected by the building’s by-laws and house rules.  By default, you will also be protected by New York City laws preventing a condominium unit owner or cooperative shareholder from leasing out a unit for a term of less than 29 days.  In a city that abounds with illegal Airbnb operators and sublets, this may come as a surprise, but the law that was originally designed to prevent apartment buildings from operating as unlicensed hotels also bans Airbnb operations and short-term sublets.

Another option is to require unit owners and shareholders to submit “PTO” or “Permission to Enter” forms for guests who stay overnight.  This process may seem cumbersome, but in the case of a building plagued by Airbnb renters, illegal sublets and noisy guests, it may be a good option.  If your building’s concern is repeat offenders, amend your building’s by-laws to require PTO forms from any unit owners and shareholders against whom multiple noise complaints have been made, and/or against whom the police have been called more than once.

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