This story from the Daily News is of personal interest to me in my lawsuit against the Skush-O’Briens (who, if you recall, own the majority shares of my little co-op). I’m sure I share this interest with thousands of other apartment-dwelling New Yorkers, not only people who live under Madonna.
We city folk usually have people living on top of us. If a building is not adequately insulated, we can hear the people above us. We can hear a lot: footsteps, dance moves, voices, violent fights, the thrum of pop music, telephone conversations, demolition, picture-hanging, kids running around. At all hours. It can be startling; it is always disturbing.
I remember a close friend who lived in Brooklyn, directly underneath a man who owned a bunch of bull dogs. His training method apparently included having them race up and down the long, bare board hallway above hers. She used to give a great imitation of what it sounded like (their toe nails, or whatever big dogs call those thing, talons maybe, clicking madly, their huge feet pounding). It was driving her crazy.
There is a remedy for this kind of noise: you can have insulation installed between the floor and the downstairs ceiling. Or, so much easier, you can install a thick carpet with a thick underpad.
In August 2010, Chaz Skush-O’Brien moved into the apartment right above me. He stripped out the carpet and underpad and was now stomping around on the bare floor. I told him he had to install carpeting. He told me he’d take it under advisement.
A few weeks later, I wrote an e-mail to our building’s manager, Rarus P. Griggsby, whom I’ve been using as a middleman with the Skush-O’Briens:
I ask you to remind [Chaz] that what I said wasn’t a personal suggestion. As I’m sure you well know, it is incorporated in our House Rules — as it is in every apartment building in the City. House Rule (21) reads: ‘Unless expressly authorized by the Board of Directors in each case, the floors of each apartment must be covered with rugs or carpeting or equally effective noise-reducing material, to the extent of at least 80% of the floor area of each room excepting only kitchens, pantries, bathrooms, maid’s rooms, closets, and foyer.’ I’d say that given the status of the lawsuit and my position as minority shareholder, it would be unwise for the “Board of Directors” to authorize a no-carpet waiver for apartment 3F. So I expect a carpet to be installed asap.
Do you think that a year later the Skush-O’Briens have installed a carpet? You do? Well then, why, right at this very moment, am I listening to Chaz stomping around up there?
By the way, I have rugs covering 80% of my floor.
So, I was delighted to read Supreme Court Justice Louis York’s decision not to accede to Madonna’s request to dismiss the lawsuit against her. Moreover, this quote from the judge is as solid a rule about this problem as I’ve seen. As well as precedence for my case, filed in that same court:
“One of the most basic functions of a residence is to provide shelter from the outside world for its occupants to think, interact and relax in peace,” [Judge] York wrote. “If the noise caused by Madonna’s activities prevented [plaintiff Karen George] from being able to use her apartment for these purposes, then the warrant of habitability has been breached.”
More of the story:
The suit also accused the co-op’s board of directors of not taking the steps to remedy a ruckus that “forced [plaintiff] to leave her apartment on numerous occasions and greatly interfered with the entertainment of guests.”
Madonna and the the building’s management had countered that the noise level registered below noise code levels – while George’s own sound engineer fired back that the noise in George’s apartment was too high.
George, who has lived in the building since 1995, is seeking damages for the maintenance she’s paid on her place since June 2009.