The Real.Est List
Dealing with a chainsmoking neighbor when the $1,100 air purifier isn't enough
"Several times daily, it is as though there is someone smoking in the room with me," writes a Park Slope co-op owner, kicking off a long and growing thread on Brownstoner.com. "Mornings, my place smells like an ashtray. Sometimes I can smell the tobacco on my clothes even when I am outside of my apartment."
The co-op board has so far refused to become involved, and moving isn't an option right now, so he or she has tried speaking with the downstairs smokers (the problem gets better for a short period then "returns as bad as ever"), adding two layers of flooring, sealing corners, plugging up outlets and buying an $1,100 air purifier.
What else to do? Suggestions include installing overhead fans, electrostatic smoke eaters with washable filters mounted on the ceiling (the kind used in some bars), or a duct exhaust system.
Others suggested zeroing in on the smoker: Buy them an air filter, pay them to quit (a win for their health, too) and ask them to smoke outside (even though the co-op board president apparently asked them not to because smoke was entering his first-floor unit).
Debate finally focuses on the co-op board's duty to shareholders under the warranty of habitability, which guarantees a co-op owner's right to live in their apartment "without being infringed upon" by neighbors. Time for a respectful, unapologetic letter-writing campaign to the board--followed up in a month by a lawyer letter.
"Don't take half assed attempts for a solution (yes, half-assed attempt is usually where these things end up. 'I'm trying to quit, 'I keep the windows open'...except when they don't)," says one. "Keep fighting it. Start nice and reasonable if you desire, but then have your lawyer take over so it doesn't completely suck your soul. For the sake of all nice people out there, don't back down and give up even f it gets nasty. You should not be stuck with the bill of a polluter, which is exactly what this is. If they wish to chainsmoke, they must hermetically seal their own apartment at their own expense."