Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: The child living above me makes noise at dawn and even at midnight. What can I do?

By Dianne Ackerman  | October 11, 2019 - 10:00AM

Can't take the noise? Find out if your building requires renters to cover 80 percent of their floors, a common requirement in NYC.


The little boy who lives above me makes a lot of noise starting as early as 5 a.m. and sometimes as late as midnight. I hate to complain about a child that I know is living in a small apartment and doesn’t have a lot of room to play (except for right above my head) but how can I get some peace and quiet? Signed, Sleepless in Sheepshead Bay.

Dear Sleepless,

When I moved into my apartment, the two little girls above me were so noisy and ran around so much that my dining room chandelier never stopped swinging.  My nextdoor neighbor, who could hear them an apartment away, was so frustrated that he moved out.  

You could argue that it’s not really normal for people to be living on top of each other in little boxes (hello, New York City) but rest assured it is very normal for children to make noise. However, you have some recourse.  

First of all, find out if your building has an 80/20 floor covering rule. This is mandatory in most buildings, and requires tenants to cover 80 percent of their floor with a rug or carpeting. Then, speak to them nicely about covering their floors. Also, tell them that you don’t mind (even if you do) the noise during the day but 5 a.m. and midnight are not times that children should be making noise—or even be awake (that’s my inner parent speaking).

If nothing is done after that pleasant chat, bring it to the board. Noise before 9 a.m. or after 10 p.m. is not allowed in buildings, be it tuba playing or children running. Your board or your management company should send a letter of complaint advising them of the house rules.

And, of course, you could always move to Iowa, where I hear it is very, very quiet. There’s no Broadway or Bloomingdale’s but other people’s noisy children are not living on top of your head either. Life is a choice.

Ms. Demeanor

Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.


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