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Downside of the backside of a building: Noise

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Common wisdom holds that apartment-dwellers who value peace and quiet should find an apartment that doesn't face the street.   But when the weather warms up and people with backyard space start using it, the rear of the building can be among the noisiest places to live.  

So what can you do, especially when the noise is being made by people who don't even live in your building? 

That's one of the louder debates unfolding on Brownstoner.com this week, where opinion is divided on whether you even have the right to complain.  

On the suck-it-up side: "The biggest problem in Brooklyn right now seems to be that a bunch of prissy suburban people who are used to peace and quiet have gotten fancy jobs in NYC and have the money to buy overpriced brownstones, and then become disappointed when they realize on the first warm day that they now live only inches away from other people, some of whom want to play their music and enjoy their yards just like they always have. Brooklyn can be very loud and that fact doesn't change just because some yuppie overpaid for a Brownstone.

Not so, says another. "I think many people don't realize how loudly sound carries in brownstone backyards - they're like mini-canyons, and 8 of our backyards = one decent-sized yard in Jersey or Long Island. So a little extra consideration is in order."

Tips for enforcing quietude include installing soundproof windows in your own place, quietly and pleasantly and repetitively asking the neighbors to quiet down (then, perhaps, power hosing them if they don't), and calling 311.

For chronic problems, says one, "call 311 every time it happens. You need to have a record of it. Eventually the city will send somebody to measure the noise level and if it's too high (totally sounds like it is) these people will be fined."

Another adds, "When calling 311, make sure YOUR address is entered into the record, and be prepared to give the city access to your apartment to take the sound reading from. As is always the case with 311, write down and save the complaint numbers. These can be shared with the local community board if independent follow-up is needed."

(Brownstoner.com)

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