Animal Doctor USA

Real Estate | Dogs Will Be Dogs. But How Much Barking Is Too Much for Neighbors?

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/26/realestate/dogs-will-be-dogs-but-how-much-barking-is-too-much-for-neighbors.html

Ask Real Estate

City dwellers are expected to tolerate some amount of noise. When it comes to disruptive pets, you need to prove it’s a problem.

Credit... Nadia Pillon

Ronda Kaysen

Feb. 26, 2022

Q: I live in a rent-stabilized apartment in Brooklyn. My neighbor across the hall has two large dogs that bark incessantly, which triggers my migraines. When I brought my health concerns to my neighbor’s attention, he was hostile and filed a report to the building accusing me of harassment. Management has been reluctant to take a stance. And I don’t have solidarity with my other neighbors, who seem to ignore the chaos. Is there anything that can be done to curb the noise?

A: As a tenant, you are entitled to a habitable apartment, free from unreasonable noises from your neighbors. Incessant barking could certainly qualify as unreasonable noise. But it depends on how loud and how long the dogs bark.

You live in a noisy city, in a building with other people, so you are expected to tolerate some amount of noise, including the occasional bark from a dog. If your neighbors have shrugged off the disruption and will not back you up, your landlord might think that you’re overly sensitive to reasonable noise.

So, you have to show that it’s actually a problem. The next time the dogs are barking, ask the super to come to your apartment and listen. Record the barking from inside your apartment as it happens, and keep notes about the duration. The city noise code prohibits dogs from barking continuously for more than 10 minutes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., or for more than five minutes from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m.

“The issue is proof, ” said Sherwin Belkin, a lawyer who represents landlords and is a founding partner of the Manhattan law firm Belkin Burden Goldman. You need to prove that the noise is loud, frequent and long. “But it sounds like no one will back the tenant up, which is a problem.”

But rather than continue to escalate the conflict with your neighbor, try to diffuse the tension, especially since your claim is on shaky ground. There are things a dog owner can do to reduce the noise. The owner could confine the dogs away from the front door, as hallway noises might trigger the barking, according to Andrea Arden, a Manhattan dog trainer. Ms. Arden also suggested that activities like food-stuffed treats could keep them occupied and quiet.

With that advice in mind, consider writing your neighbor a heartfelt letter, explaining that you don’t want a feud and instead hope that you can find a way to coexist peacefully. Tread lightly, as you’ve already been accused of harassment, so your goal should be to de-escalate. Explain that you are sensitive to the noise, and are looking for understanding. You could gently suggest some of the training options, pointing out that this might make the dogs happier, too.

For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate.