Sunday, December 20, 2015

Perspective: $3200 fine for noise violation deemed "stunning" by Times (but not to the arena)

From today's Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times.
A Pianist Silenced
When I bought my apartment in 2008, the co-op board knew I was a pianist. At my interview, the board agreed that I could practice until 10 p.m. For four years, my piano playing was never a problem. But in 2012, new shareholders moved in and complained about the noise. In response, the board instituted a policy that requires me to stop practicing at 9 p.m. It also restricts shareholders from conducting business in their apartments after 5 p.m., meaning I can no longer teach private evening lessons. These changes are damaging my career as a musician and teacher. Is the board allowed to renege on a previous agreement and enforce a rule that did not exist when I bought my apartment?
Harlem, Manhattan
When you buy into a co-op, you agree to abide by the co-op’s proprietary lease and house rules. Most building rules allow boards to adopt or amend house rules from time to time. And all owners are bound by the new rules, even if they are more restrictive, said David L. Berkey, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. For you, that means no more piano after 9 p.m., and no evening lessons.
Unfortunately, I have more bad tidings. When you teach these piano lessons, you are conducting a business, so the noise is considered commercial, not residential. And commercial noise is regulated by the noise code 24 hours a day. So your neighbor could call 311 at any time and file a noise complaint, regardless of house rules. If an inspector issues a violation, the fine for a first offense for music made from a commercial establishment is usually a stunning $3,200, said Alan Fierstein, the owner of Acoustilog, an acoustical consultant. Subsequent fines could potentially cost you tens of thousands of dollars.
(Emphasis added)

I get what they mean, but it's all perspective: a $3,200 fine is significant to an individual, but nothing when it comes to the Barclays Center leaking bass.

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