Q: Last month, a cannabis shop opened underneath my Gramercy apartment. We checked, and it doesn’t have a license to sell marijuana. The store has a lounge where people can stay and smoke, and they play loud music with a heavy bass all day and night. It affects three apartments above, which can hear and feel the music. We reluctantly agreed to a rent increase shortly before the shop opened, so we’re frustrated that we’re paying more for a worse living experience. The super and the management company are doing nothing to help. What recourse do we have, especially since the space was rented to an illegal operation?
A: Noise complaints in New York City often go nowhere, but luckily for you, the source of the noise is an illegal business, which the city and state are interested in shutting down.
The first thing you can do is to make a complaint about the illegal cannabis shop and lounge to an office with an incentive to act. Start by filing a complaint online with the state’s Office of Cannabis Management, which investigates complaints about unlicensed cannabis businesses. The city’s 311 website also directs complaints about illegal marijuana businesses to this office. (Currently there are no licensed lounges for on-site cannabis consumption in New York City, according to the Office of Cannabis Management.)
You can use 311 to register complaints about noise coming from a bar, club or restaurant. The city has laws restricting noisy music at bars and restaurants between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., and a successful complaint could lead to fines for the business.
Another course of action is to write a letter, from either yourself or your lawyer. If the noise is the issue you’re most concerned about, start negotiations with a letter to the business owner, said Adam Leitman Bailey, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. You can use the illegal nature of the business as leverage, stating that you’re willing to ignore that in exchange for lower noise levels during certain hours, such as between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m. on weeknights.
You can bolster your position by threatening, or even filing, a lawsuit against the business and the landlord. “If the shop ignores the letter, the next move would be for an injunction in State Supreme Court,” Mr. Bailey said.
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