Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: My neighbors' cooking stinks up the hallway. What can I do about it?

By Dianne Ackerman  | March 15, 2019 - 10:00AM

Unlike cigar smoke, you would have a tough time arguing cooking odors are a violation of any lease.


I live in a building with several apartments on each floor. When I arrive home at night, I am overwhelmed by the cooking smells coming from some of my neighbor’s apartments. Do I have any recourse? Signed, A Sensitive Nose

Dear Nose,

Living in an apartment building has many plusses: No shoveling snow, no mowing the lawn, no fixing anything outside of the walls. But, the downside is that sometimes you can smell your neighbors’ cooking. I do not really think there is anything that you can do about this.  

Unlike cigar smoke, cooking food is not a violation of any lease that I know of. Of course, everyone is sensitive to some kind of odor. I live over a bakery and think the smell of melting butter in the morning is the best smell ever. But my board has received complaints from others owners who are really steamed up about it.  

There are gadgets that you can put in your own apartment that will eliminate odors, but I don’t think that you can do anything about the hallway, except walk quickly and get into your own space.

And if there is a particularly delicious smell coming from one of your neighbors' apartments, get acquainted and hope for a dinner invite.

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

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