Ask an Expert

Is my landlord allowed to renovate at 6 am and on weekends?

Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral
By Teri Karush Rogers  |
August 24, 2010 - 6:43AM
BrickTankQ logo.Icon2.jpg

Q. My landlord is renovating the lobby and the hallways of my building as well as a few apartments. The work is done six or seven days a week starting as early as 6 am, and as I live on the ground floor it's especially loud.  Is this legal? What can I do to get the work confined to normal business hours?  

A. New York City’s noise code was recently overhauled by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to balance the reputation of New York as a vibrant, world class ‘city that never sleeps,’ with the needs of those who live in, work in, or visit here, explains real estate lawyer and BrickTank legal expert Robert Braverman.

“Among the recent enactments are limitations on noise that may emanate from construction sites,” he says.

Specifically, the DEP allows construction to take place between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays.  Weekend and after-hours work is allowed only with the express permission of the Department of Buildings (DOB).  To get permission, says Braverman, your landlord would have had to submit a noise mitigation plan.  

(Note: Emergency work is allowed after hours and on weekends without without a noise mitigation plan, but the lobby renovation you describe doesn’t seem to qualify as an emergency.)

An easy way to force your landlord to comply with the DEP and DOB regulations is to file a formal complaint with both agencies by calling 311, according to Braverman.

He says it’s also possible that the noise condition, dust and dirt from construction work could constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability.

You would need to demonstrate—perhaps with the help of an acoustical engineer to measure the noise--that the noise is excessive enough to deprive you of the essential functions that a residence is supposed to provide.  

“Cases have found that the warranty of habitability has been breached where excessive loud noise was permitted to enter into a residential apartment, the noise was continuous and prolonged and the landlord made no efforts to try to abate it,” says Braverman.  

All this said, you might try to work out an informal solution first.

“Six a.m. is early for noisy work,” says property manager Michael Wolfe.  “Perhaps you should suggest that mobilization and painting—quiet work—be done from 6 am to 8 am, and any scraping, spackling, patching etc be done after 8 on weekdays and after 10 on weekends.”

Trouble at home? Get your NYC apartment-dweller questions answered by an expert! Send us your questions via our feedback form.

See all BrickTank Q&A's here.


Teri Rogers Headshot - Floral

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.

Brick Underground articles occasionally include the expertise of, or information about, advertising partners when relevant to the story. We will never promote an advertiser's product without making the relationship clear to our readers.