Ask an Expert

What can I do about my condo neighbor's illegal construction work?

Share this Article

Q: I live in a condo building and someone just bought the unit next to us and is starting construction without permits. What's our recourse?

In a word, tattle, say our experts. But keep in mind that depending on the work, your neighbor's project may actually be above board.

"Notify the Board of Managers and the managing agent, and confirm whether any permits for the work are necessary," advises Jeffrey S. Reich, a real estate attorney with Schwartz, Sladkus, Reich, Greenberg, Atlas LLP, who notes that for certain decorative upgrades like painting, wallpapering, most flooring work or installations, and hanging of cabinetry, no permits are required.

If that doesn't lead to a satisfactory resolution, Reich recommends calling 311 to report the unauthorized work. (He also notes that if you live outside of the five boroughs, you may need to contact whatever local building department has jurisdiction in your area.) "If the work is, in fact, being performed without the necessary permits, the City should be prepared to shut the work down," he says. If it's already finished by the time your complaint goes through, the city could require your neighbors to submit post-work filings. And you should probably brace yourself for some tense exchanges in the elevator with your new neighbor.


Is it rude to offer to buy a dead neighbor's apartment?

Our lawyer missed some big red flags about our co-op building. What can we do about it?

Should our co-op board let my neighbor turn their apartment into an LLC?

Will a sleek new lobby boost our building's property values?

Trouble at home? Get your NYC apartment-dweller questions answered by an expert! Send us your questions.​

See all Ask an Expert.