Ask Real Estate
by RONDA KAYSEN
A real estate brokerage recently bought three abandoned buildings — one of which is behind my rowhouse in Bedford-Stuyvesant — and fixed them up, turning the ground floors into the company’s office. Now, they throw huge parties every Thursday night until 11 p.m. Having grown up in Bed-Stuy, I am not a stranger to a good party, but I am also an adult with two small children who sleep at the back of the house. Once I asked the partyers to lower their music. Rather than comply, the owner told me to relax and suggested that I thank him for gentrifying my neighborhood. I walked away and flagged down an officer, who made them lower their music. But their raucous parties continue, and now our block association contacts the precinct on Thursday nights. How do I deal with this problem?
Why is a real estate company throwing house parties on a school night? If this is some sort of marketing strategy, it is certainly a peculiar one, as it has succeeded in galvanizing the locals to boycott the business.
Keep that momentum going. “The more people you can mobilize, the better off you are,” said Thomas P. Kerrigan, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. If the local office is affiliated with a larger company, the block association could complain to the corporate office. It should also voice its frustration with the local community board and City Council member.
As a group, speak to a community affairs officer at the local police precinct. Picket the real estate office or show up at the party as a group and demand to speak with the owner. “Employees would feel uncomfortable about it,” Mr. Kerrigan said. “It would be harder for the owner to just brush it off.”
Find out if the property is zoned for commerical use. If it is violating local zoning rules, report it to the Buildings Department, which could issue a violation. The music might also be violating the city's noise code for commercial use. The property's actual use -- including its parties -- appears to be commercial, not residential.
Finally, you could bring a private nuisnace claim against the business, but that is a challenging process. "They're typically difficult and costly and can be protracted," said Jarred I Kassenoff, a Manhattan real estate lawyer. Instead, send a letter from a lawyer to the local office and irs corporate parent (if it has one) demanding that they tone it down.
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