Brick Underground's guide to the 80 percent floor-covering rule for NYC apartments

Mimi headsht
By Mimi OConnor  |
March 5, 2019 - 10:00AM

What happens if owners or tenants are flouting the rule in your building?


New Yorkers live in close quarters. We’re surrounded by each other: We live beside, above, and below each other. This can be especially apparent when it comes to noise. One of the ways New Yorkers try to peaceably manage noise issues—particularly when that noise is coming from the apartment above—is the 80 percent rule.

This common guideline (not an actual law) states that 80 percent of floor space be covered with carpeting or area rugs. On the surface, it sounds pretty simple, but when it comes to New York City living, the simple can get complicated real fast.

To help you make sense of this guideline, we’ve rounded up all of Brick Underground’s intelligence on the 80 percent rule here.

Determining what’s covered—and enforcement options

Is it 80 percent of the apartment? Or just bedrooms? And can you make your neighbor comply? Find out here. 

Are sponsors exempt?

What if a sponsor is flouting the 80 percent rule? Do you you have any recourse? Answers are here. 

Can a co-op board make you install wall-to-wall carpet?

Even if you have rugs? (And no one's complained.) You're likely ok. 

Does a doctor’s note give you a pass?

What if you have asthma and you've been told to avoid rugs and carpeting? You're probably out of luck. 

If you're interested muffling sound

You can try these tactics from below. Interested in doing some work yourself? Roll up your sleeves and learn from this intensive job done that one couple did in their brownstone.

And don't miss our complete guide to soundproofing

We rounded up common NYC noise complaints, as well as solutions both high tech and low budget. 


Mimi headsht

Mimi OConnor

Contributing Writer

Mimi O’Connor has written about New York City real estate for publications that include Brick Underground, Refinery29, and Thrillist. She is the recipient of two awards from the National Association of Real Estate Editors for interior design and service journalism. Her writing on New York City, parenting, events, and culture has also appeared in Parents, Red Tricycle, BizBash, and Time Out New York.

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.