Manhattan Co-op Board to Madonna: Be Quiet Or Get Out!


AP photo madonna_150 from MSN articleMadonna’s Upper West Side co-op board  is threatening to evict the Material Girl.  According to a lawsuit filed by her upstairs neighbor Karen George, Madonna is using her Central Park West pied a terre ” as a rehearsal studio, forcing neighbors to endure “blaring music, stomping and shaking walls,” for up to three hours each day.

When a colleague sent me this link reporting the story, I remembered a similar problem that my wife and I  had with an upstairs neighbor (not music- but walking both human and canine). Fortunately, carpeting resolved the problem and our “quiet enjoyment” was restored. If you live in New York City you should expect noise from police cars to fire engine sirens, horns and car alarms, garbage trucks and yes from your neighbors as well.

If you are moving from a quiet suburban neighborhood or if you are particularly sensitive to noise here are some suggestions to test your decibel tolerance before you buy an apartment in Manhattan.

  • If the apartment is located near an elevator, public laundry room or trash room make sure mechanical noises can’t be  heard.
  • Check to see if the windows have been upgraded to reduce street noises  as well as  energy costs.
  • Depending on the floor of the apartment, you may want to listen carefully- especially in rear courtyard facing rooms-for fans and other mechanical noise creating devices on adjacent rooftops.
  • Ask the seller’s/showing broker to turn off or lower any music playing in the apartment.
  • Before signing the contract, visit the apartment at different times of the day. A morning visit will expose the going to work noises,  an afternoon visit will let you concentrate on street and traffic sounds and the evening visit may give you some insight into the level of noise you can expect from prospective neighbors  are reading or blaring their music or TVs?
  • As part of your due diligence, you and/or your attorney should read the  co-op or condo meeting minutes and see if there are any noise issues discussed.

Generally speaking, a co-op board will have more jurisdiction and clout over noise matters. Based on their bylaws a co-op board may be able to levy fines until the offending shareholder complies or, as with Madonna,  threaten and ultimately have the shareholder evicted. Condos generally do not have this power and,  it may be completely up to you to bring any legal pressure on your fellow condo neighbor.

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