6 tips for filing a noise complaint in New York City

Your complete guide to what steps you can take when you have noisy neighbors and more.

Editorial Team

By Editorial Team

man is reacting to a loud noise by closing his ears

One popular description of New York is that it’s the city that never sleeps. While that might sound like fun to a tourist, or someone considering a move to the Big Apple, it’s not quite as much fun when you actually live there.In fact, it can be a major pain, as evidenced by the fact that noise complaints in NYC are at the top of the list of issues many citizens have. And it’s only getting worse.

In 2016 alone, approximately 420,000 noise complaints were filed, which is over twice as many as the number filed in 2011. And that’s only taking into account the complaints made using the dedicated hotline.

So, experiencing problems with noise is not unusual in New York. But what can you do? Do you have to live with it? Of course not.

It might take a while to resolve the issue. Filing a noise complaint in NYC will eventually lead to some resolution that should help improve your life’s quality.

There is little you can do about the city-generated noise, but noisy neighbors can compound the problem. And you can do something about them. After all, New York is expensive, and when you’re paying a fortune in rent, you should be able to spend time at home without wanting to rip your hair out.

Dealing with noisy neighbors

Noisy neighbors aren’t fun, whether they love watching TV all day and all night at ridiculously high levels, they talk loudly, or are throwing parties all the time.

Open the lines of communication before you file a noise complaint

two women who are neighbors standing at the fence between their properties communicating

The first step is to actually talk to your neighbors and explain the situation. Many people don’t purposely go out of their way to make other people’s lives difficult and they might not realize that their way of life is having a negative impact on you.

So, if you’re lucky, your neighbors will be understanding and tone down their loud ways.

Contact your landlord about noisy neighbors

Your neighbor, though, might be one of those people who doesn’t care, or who agree to tone it down only to revert to their old ways as soon as possible. In this situation, your next option is to talk to your landlord.

Some landlords might not be aware of the problem, especially if they don’t live in the same building. So, your landlord might be willing to talk to the owner of the apartment where the noise is coming from and they might be able to come up with a reasonable solution.

At the very least, they’ll be able to tell you whether their previous tenants complained about the noise issue. This can be extremely helpful if the situation degenerates to where you have to sue your neighbors.

In some cases, though, the landlord might not want to get involved because they don’t have the time or resources to help you out. Incessant noise will certainly affect your quality of life, but you have to prove it falls under your NYC tenant’s right to habitable living conditions to get your landlord to do something, which means proving that it is a threat to your health and safety. It can get really complicated.

This is why it always pays to learn a little more about a landlord before renting an apartment, and why it’s often a good idea to rent from an experienced rental company.

Blueground, for example, is one such reputable company that rents out luxury furnished apartments. They not only offer great apartments, but they also do their best to make their tenants’ lives as easy and comfortable as possible. To that end, their Client Experience team is available around the clock through their mobile app and will work with you to find a solution.  

Build your case before filing a noise complaint

If your landlord isn’t able to help, you’ll have to file a complaint, and you might even end up having to sue your neighbors and/or the building. And to do that, you will need proof.

This means that you will have to track the noise that is disturbing you. This includes keeping a written record of every noise event or making an audio or video recording of the noise.

Also, make sure you keep a record of any efforts you made to resolve the situation amicably, including what was said during these conversations. If there is any written communication, make sure to save it.

Unfortunately, if you do end up in court, you’re going to need more proof. This often means that you have to hire a professional to measure the levels of sound in your apartment. But, this can cost thousands of dollars.

You should also speak to your neighbors because if you are suffering, there’s a good chance they are too. This way, you can band together, and you stand a far better chance of resolving the problem because there is strength in numbers.

File a noise complaint with the city

While you’re doing all this prep work for any eventual legal action, you can file a noise complaint in New York by calling 311 or using the dedicated webpage. One advantage is that you can remain anonymous if you like, but it’s not as if your neighbor won’t figure out that you might be the potential complainer.

Furthermore, many will consider filing a noise complaint in New York as an aggressive act. This is because the complaints are forwarded to the local police precinct. So there is a chance your neighbor could end up with police officers at their door.

Of course, if you’ve tried to come to an amicable resolution and have been ignored, or your neighbor was aggressive. That shows that you really should file that complaint.

File a lawsuit against noisy neighbors

man sits with a lawyer to discuss how to file a lawsuit

Filing a lawsuit can get really expensive, and there’s no guarantee you’ll win. So, before you start down this path, try talking to the board to see if they can help. Another option is to install soundproofing materials in your apartment. While you shouldn’t have to be the one to pay, the fact is that a lawsuit could cost a whole lot more and take more time. Plus, there’s that little problem that you could still lose. At least by soundproofing your apartment, you’ll get something in return for your money, guaranteed. When it comes to filing a noise complaint in New York against your neighbors. You really need to try to sort things out amicably, first. And that means talking calmly with your neighbor. Otherwise, you’re in for a lot of aggravation if you go the legal route.

Editorial Team

Editorial Team

The Blueground editorial team covers the best things to see, do, and experience in our cities around the world.