Ask an Expert

Can you sue a neighbor for harassment?

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
June 8, 2010 - 7:03AM
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Q. Can you sue a neighbor for harassment?

A.  Not under New York civil law, says BrickTank expert and Manahttan real estate lawyer Eric Goidel.

However, you can sue your neighbor for causing a nuisance.

“Some examples would be unreasonable noise or secondhand smoke,” says Goidel. “Less likely would be cooking odors.”

Loud music in the middle of the night? Yes.  Being shouted at in the hallway all the time? Maybe.  Constant complaints about you to the board?  

“It would depend on whether there was a basis for the complaints, and if not, whether the board acted to the detriment of the complained-about resident,” says Goidel.

To successfully sue for nuisance you will have to show that the interference with your life is substantial, intentional, unreasonable, interfering with your right to use & enjoy your property, and caused by your neighbor’s actions or failure to act.

Before heading to court, be sure to exhaust your internal options first.

“Remember that in a cooperative or condominium, the house rules or proprietary typically give the board the ability to deal with such issues,” says Goidel.

You can also try contacting a free mediation service to help you work things out with your neighbor.  The non-profit Safe Horizons Mediation Program says that about 80% of their cilents leave satisfied. 

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Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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