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Question: How much noise do I have to endure? I live in a walk-up, and noise travels through the floors like drumbeats. My upstairs neighbor is a night person. At 3 a.m., her high heels pound away just over my sleeping loft. I’ve talked with her about the problem. It stops for awhile. Then it starts up again.

— Sleepless in SoHo

Dear Sleepless,

Maybe it’s time for a visit from Paulie Walnuts. Just kidding!

If you have already talked with your neighbor in a calm and reasonable fashion, you have made the first, most important move. She’s aware of the problem and the distress she causes you. Now you know: At best she’s thoughtless; at worst she’s thoughtless and selfish.

So what should you do next? Many leases have “80 percent clauses,” which require that tenants cover 80 percent of their floor with carpets or rugs. Check your lease. If you have such a clause, the chances are good that she does, too. Take it up with your landlord. He can enforce the lease.

Even if your neighbor isn’t required to cover her floors, the landlord is still required to see that you have undisturbed “quiet enjoyment” of your apartment. That’s a legal term that covers all kinds of habitability issues, not just noise problems. In New York, no one expects country-style silence, but a noisy neighbor clomping around at 3 a.m. almost certainly qualifies as a breach of the implied or explicit quiet enjoyment clause of a lease. Again, it’s up to the landlord to enforce the terms of your neighbor’s tenancy and to provide you with a livable home.

If the landlord route doesn’t work out to your satisfaction, you might have a valid reason to withhold your rent. But don’t make that call on your own. The New York Rent Guidelines Board suggests consulting an attorney before you get too carried away. The board also suggests mediation in lieu of taking your neighbor to court.

Finally, the most drastic move you can make is to call the cops. The local precinct might not do much about it, but you can make a non-emergency request of the NYPD that they pay your neighbor a visit and explain the situation. No one is likely to get in big trouble, but a visit by a couple of police officers can be a sobering experience for many people. It won’t do a lot for your neighbor relations, but it just may mean the end of the late-night poundings.

David Crook is a veteran journalist and author of The Complete Wall Street Journal Real-Estate Investing and Homeowner’s Guidebooks. Do you have a question about anything real estate-related in NYC? Write him at For verification purposes, please include your name and a phone number; neither will be published. Note: Nothing in this column should be considered professional legal advice. If you have a legal issue, consult an attorney.