The noise from downstairs is horrible. Should I sue the owner?

Q: Last August, a dog daycare opened in the retail space under my rental apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Since then, I have endure...


Q: Last August, a dog daycare opened in the retail space under my rental apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Since then, I have endured intolerable noises of barking dogs from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., while working from home. I took videos and immediately complained to management. An attempt to soundproof the nursery’s ceiling made matters worse. For months they promised to move me to another apartment, but it never happened. With my lease ending next month, I have requested compensation for the mental cost this has had on my well-being. They refused. What can I do?

A: As a tenant, you are entitled to the quiet enjoyment of your apartment. This does not mean complete silence, but you are entitled to a reasonable measure of peace. The constant barking certainly makes it difficult to achieve this.

If you still had months left on your lease, your options would be simpler. You can negotiate a break-up or withhold part of the rent until you reach an agreement on a rent reduction. But those windows have closed.


At this point, you could cut your losses and move. If, however, you want to fight this battle simply because the last six months of your life have been disrupted, you have options.

You could sue the landlord for violating your right to quiet enjoyment. And you could sue the landlord and owner of the dog school for creating a private nuisance. If you win, you could collect damages from both parties. But trials are not without headaches. “I’ve heard before that litigation is the sport of kings,” said Maxwell Breed, a real estate litigator with the Manhattan law firm Warshaw Burstein. “Are you going to hire a lawyer and pay hourly rates to chase after the landlord?”

Your damages would be limited – you won’t get your full rent back for those months. And while you could probably collect your landlord’s legal fees if you won, the same wouldn’t be the case if you sued the tenants.

You could try to negotiate with your landlord one last time. “You have a situation where the owner has acknowledged there was a problem by trying to fix it,” Mr Breed said. “Just because you have complaints doesn’t mean you have to pursue them. Having claims means you negotiate with them.

Approach the owner and try to generate empathy. Request that your moving expenses be covered or that you receive a free month’s rent. You might write a bad owner review on social media, although in a tight rental market that doesn’t matter much. So try to persuade the landlord that you’ve been a patient tenant through a miserable experience and that you deserve some kind of compensation.

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Newsrust - US Top News: The noise from downstairs is horrible. Should I sue the owner?
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