Q&A: Basement Noises

Q For the past 2 months our apartment, which is on the ground floor above the basement, has been inundated with a loud noise from a faulty system of leaking pipes and non-working control valves, causing the sump pump to cycle on and off every 4-5 minutes, interrupting sleep.

The management office cannot seem to fix the problem and refused our request for a second opinion. We hired a master plumber on our own and his report blamed negligence and lack of oversight.

How can we force the board to solve this problem and absorb the $175 fee for this out-of-pocket expense?

—Co-op Shareholder in Queens

A “Noise issues are notoriously difficult to judge, because they can be quite subjective,” says Kenneth Jacobs of the New York-based law firm of Smith, Buss & Jacobs, LLP. “No matter what the shareholder wishes to do, she and her husband should try to get someone else to verify what they are hearing and confirm whether it would interfere with a ‘reasonable person’s’ ability to sleep or otherwise use the apartment.

“Hopefully supported by that verification, she and her husband have several remedies as co-op tenant-shareholders if they think that their landlord (the co-op corporation) is interfering with their ability to live in their apartment.

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