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Dear Ms. Demeanor: My landlord's friend is a smoker, and his clothes stink up the washer and dryer. What can I do?

You might be surprised to find out that a washer and dryer are on the list of things a landlord isn't actually required to provide.

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Question:

The landlord of our three-unit building has a friend who visits once a month and stays for a week at a time. He is a heavy smoker but he respects our building rules and only smokes outside. However, his clothes stink up the washer and dryer (we only have one of each) so badly that my own wash comes out smelling like smoke. What should I do? Signed, Smoked Out

Answer:

Dear Smoked,

Second-hand smoke is very aggravating and there are several things I would recommend. First of all, speak to your landlord, as she may be unaware of the issue. If she does nothing about it, you could run the machines without anything in them before you put your own clothes inside. This may help get rid of the smell. You could also use scented dryer sheet, which may help reduce the odor. And lastly, you could just go to a public laundromat.  

While all of the above may be inconvenient, please understand that a washer and dryer are not things that a landlord has to provide to a tenant. You might be surprised to find out what a landlord is actually required to provide, and what they are not. While renters can expect to have heat, hot and cold water; and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, they are not entitled to a refrigerator, stove or dishwasher.  While every landlord must provide a lead-free and pest-free environment, would you believe they do not have to supply closets, window screens or air conditioning? 

Of course, most landlords do supply many things they’re not required to—it makes good business sense and renters expect these things, especially when rents are so high in NYC. After all, if you were shown an apartment lacking appliances, you’d probably expect a steep discount off the rent. 

So, you may not feel this way, but you can consider yourself lucky that you have the amenity of a washer and dryer and can use it smoke-free three out of four weeks in each month.

Ms. Demeanor


Dianne Ackerman is the new voice of reason behind Ms. Demeanor. She has lived in her Upper East Side co-op for the past 20 years and is the vice president of her co-op board. She is filled with opinions that she gladly shares with all who ask—and some who do not. Have something that needs sorting out? Drop her an email.