Roommates + Landlords

What to do about the balcony smoker next door

By Leigh Kamping-Carder  | December 11, 2014 - 1:59PM

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire--especially when your neighbor is lighting up on his balcony. One Apartment Therapy reader had just such a problem, querying the blog’s “Ask Alice” etiquette column on how to handle the smoker next door, whose habit was wafting waves of stink into their apartment.

It’s possible that he doesn’t know his smoking is a problem, Alice notes, so tell him about it the next time he’s indulging, taking care to place the blame on some external thing, like drafty walls, rather than him. If he doesn’t take kindly to the prodding, check your lease’s policy on smoking--you could report him to your landlord. (Maybe he's smoking on the balcony in a misguided attempt to follow the rules.)

In fact, even if your lease doesn’t address smoking explicitly, your landlord may be able to take action under a clause prohibiting the “dissemination of noxious odors” or “any action which may interfere with the use and enjoyment of the building by other residents,” as real estate attorney Jeffrey Reich of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, told us in March. Plus, your landlord has a duty to keep your place livable--called the warrant of habitability--and New York courts have ruled that secondhand smoke could qualify as a breach.

Who knows? Your neighbors may be having the exact same issue. On the other hand, snitching isn’t exactly neighborly, and the issue could be a lot worse. At least he's not naked.


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