Posted by Ed Jones on September 14, 2000 at 15:45:23:
I have a problem with the children in my building playing in the courtyard. The yelling and the screaming are absolutely unbearable. Add to this, the fact that they keep bouncing rubber balls of my window, and you have a condition that borders on harassment. I have written the following letter to my landlord, and I must say I received a rather prompt response by telephone. He indicated he would do what he could to stop the noise. There has been quite an improvement. Nevertheless, a situation like this requires constant vigilance in order to have any lasting effect. I do not see that happening, and I now feel that I will most likely have to take legal action of some sort in order to make my point. I seek no damages from the landlord, nor from the tenants who are the parents of the children. I do seek however, an equitable remedy at law, whereby I could have the courts issue some sort of an injunction that would prevent these courtyard melees from reoccurring. Would appreciate any input on the type of action I should pursue in order to obtain that remedy. Thank you!
Here is a copy of my letter to the landlord, a copy of which was hand delivered to the Super:
Hand Delivered To Superintendent
Certified copy to follow
Subject: Safety Hazards - Nuisance - Endangering the life of a minor
I occupy an apartment on the second floor at (address withheld). I would like you to take whatever action you consider that is warranted in order to reduce, remove or otherwise abate an ongoing hazardous condition on your premises.
The courtyard area between the building entrances of (address withheld) is being used by the children of the neighborhood as a playground. From a vantage point of my window which is situated directly over the courtyard area in question I have observed it being used for the children's version of the following activities:
Baseball-Soccer-basketball-assorted variations of handball and on various occasions a courtyard version of Lacrosse. The normal accompanying apparatus of sticks, bats and balls is ubiquitous.
One would think that any one of these ongoing activities would be enough to tax the capacity of even the most well designed playground areas, apparently however, in the courtyard there is still room for more. Believe it or not, amongst all the activity there is still apparently enough room for a few children to roller-skate between the soccer players and the bat swingers while others weave in and out on their bicycles. When one considers the fact that all these courtyard activities are taking place while tenants, many of whom are elderly, are attempting to pass through this arena in order to gain access to their apartments, it would seem a miracle that while some have been smashed into on occasion, that none has thus far been seriously injured.
The rungs on my fire escape ladder are ideally suited for use as a basketball hoop. The shots that continuously bounce off the ladder give my apartment the ongoing resonance of a backboard extension punctuated only by the rhythm of the little rubber handballs, spaldings etc as they bounce off my window. The fire escape outside my bedroom window at almost any given time will be decorated with at least 9 or 10 balls of various colors and descriptions which failed to return to the children after ricocheting off my window. I say at almost any given time because the children will occasionally engage in the practice of climbing up to the firescape in order to retrieve them. A very dangerous practice I might add that could easily lead to a disastrous fall that would cause a serious, even fatal injury. One might very well consider the actions, or inaction as the case might be, of otherwise responsible parties who knowingly allow these activities to continue as being tantamount to "Endangering the life of a minor"
The yelling, screaming, crying and cheering that normally accompanies a group of children at play reverberates through the courtyard apartments as though it were being broadcast over a public address system. I called this to the attention of the last landlord, and furnished audio/visual documentation to support my claims. He immediately posted and enforced a no ball playing notice in the courtyard, a sign which is now being used for target practice. The children of this building have seen fit to invite their friends and other neighborhood children to come and join them in this melee. These other children are quite happy to join in the courtyard activities, as the strict, law abiding rules laid down by the landlords in their own buildings would never permit them to engage in such outrageous behavior.
As a new landlord that has just taken over the responsibility of maintaining the building that I live in I am naturally quite reluctant to begin our relationship with the rendering of a complaint. Nevertheless, I have made a good faith effort to have this disturbance quelled at its source. The super, and in at least one case, the parents of the children have received adequate notification of my displeasure with the status quo. I have been met with everything from a "Gee, I used to think you were a nice guy", to an I don't give a darn about your right to the peaceful enjoyment of your home attitude. I am at the point now where I must insist that you intervene.
I want the dangerous, hazardous conditions that exist in this house because of ongoing playground activities by children in the courtyard in question to cease and desist forthwith. While I am reluctant to at this time to make a formal complaint to the necessary authorities in order to achieve my purpose, I am nevertheless not opposed to serving notice on you that I hold your corporation, limited liability or not, fully responsible for liabilities occurring as a result of the circumstances described herein.
Should you have questions or suggestions that you think might be helpful you will find that I am willing to cooperate with anyone who exhibits a problem-solving attitude. Though I must say at this time, I can see no viable alternative to the immediate expulsion of the children from the courtyard. I assure you Sir, that while your receipt of this letter can hardly be taken as a pleasurable experience, your adherence to my request will yield benefits to you that are otherwise heretofore unrealized.
I will withhold the taking of any further action pending your response to my complaint. However, since I have already suffered greatly as a result of this situation, I will not wait long. In short Sir, given the circumstances of the present situation:
"The Ball Is In Your Court"
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