While not from the Commercial Division, an August 24, 2011 decision by Justice York raises issues of a landlord’s responsibility for actions of tenants which disturb other tenants. In this case the plaintiff sued alleging that pop icon Madonna, who owned the apartment below her, was playing her music for 1.5 to 3 hours a day for over two years at a volume which interfered with the plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of her apartment and caused her to have to leave her apartment. Plaintiff sued Madonna as well as her cooperative and the cooperative’s managing agent. This decision deals with the parties’ competing motions for summary judgment on plaintiff’s breach of warranty of habitability claim against the cooperative and her nuisance claims against both the cooperative and Madonna.

The warranty of habitability provides that a landlord (including a cooperative) is reasonable to make sure that (1) a residential premises be fit for human habitation; (2) the condition of the premises be in accord with the uses reasonably intended by the parties; and (3) the tenants are not subjected to any conditions endangering or detrimental to their life, health or safety. The court found that Madonna’s playing loud music for a number of hours could constitute a breach of the warranty of habitability, but it could not rule in either parties’ favor on their dueling motions because there was an issue of fact as to “whether the noise in question possessed such qualities as to violate the warranty of habitability.”

The court also addressed plaintiffs’ nuisance claims against the cooperative and Madonna, which involves a substantial, intentional, unreasonable, interference with plaintiff’s use and enjoyment of her apartment. The court found that under this claim the cooperative corporation couldn’t be held liable for Madonna’s acts but there is a question as to the unreasonableness of the music. For this reason the cooperative was granted summary judgment dismissing the nuisance claim against it, but Madonna was denied the same relief.

George v. Board of Directors of One W. 64th St., Inc., Midboro Mgmt., Inc. and Madonna Ciccone, Sup Ct, New York County, August 24, 2011, York, J, Index No. 114555/09.