Neighbor noise is the most annoying

Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio

by Arline L. Bronzaft, Ph.D., Board of Directors, GrowNYC, Co-founder, The Quiet Coalition, and Honorary Chair, Quiet American Skies

As a board member of GrowNYC, I have responded to New York City neighbor noise complaints for over thirty years. Thus, I was not surprised to read about a study from the National Research Council that “confirmed that impact sounds from neighbours are the most annoying of noise-related nuisances.” The study was conducted in a laboratory setting with subjects exposed to different sounds. The lead researcher reports that impact sounds that are aren’t continuous such as the dropping of heavy objects or the moving of furniture were most annoying to the subjects.

Confirming that neighbor noise is indeed most disturbing, the article goes on to note that in the UK about 80% of people make complaints about noise in their homes. This finding was confirmed by a study that found that local councils receive an average of 129,122 complaints about noise a year. That noise is a health hazard is also discussed in the article.

Now to the obvious question: what can individuals do to curb neighbor noise? The article suggests that moving from your home or engaging in breathing exercises or meditation to lessen the stress. Another suggestion is that you check out the sound in an apartment before moving in. The final suggestion….ear plugs and headsets.

I would suggest that readers go to the GrowNYC website to learn more about efforts GrowNYC has made to deal with neighbor noise in New York City. Neighbor noise is a serious problem in New York City and GrowNYC has confirmed this with its own research. It has also attempted to seek solutions to the neighbor noise problem rather than suggesting moving or wearing ear plugs.

Leases for New York City apartments provide people with rights to quiet in their apartments, provided the requests are reasonable. Local council people have also assisted residents with their neighbor noise problems as have I for many years. Resolutions to noise problems involve the individuals making the noise as well as landlords and managing agents. Have I personally been successful in resolving neighbor noise complaints? Not always, but in many cases noise problems have been resolved.

I would also like to point out that apartment dwellers should also be conscious of the sounds they make in their dwellings. As the GrowNYC noise brochure states, “Quiet begins with You.”

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