It Is Smokey In Here and It Is Not Me!

Originally posted on December 22, 2021 3:00 pm
Updated on December 21, 2021 11:58 am

Smelling smoke in your apartment (whether it be from marijuana, cigarettes, or other emissions) is never pleasant. Especially if it is not coming from you. You could have pets, asthma, or just some really sensitive nostrils. Whatever the case may be if you do not enjoy it and are constantly inhaling unwanted fumes, you could have a problem on your hands. So how do you deal with this?

Check Your Lease for Smoking Policies

First, you should figure out if your building is one that enforces a non-smoking policy or not. This would be stated in your lease or you may have signs posted around the building that asks residents not to smoke. If this is the case, then we recommend going immediately to your landlord. Especially if it is a reoccurring issue. Whereas you do not want to be the tattle-tale neighbor, there are residents that are clearly violating the rules which is unfair to other tenants. 

Steps to Take to Resolve Smoke Fumes Issue

The NYC Health Department suggests a few steps you should take if your building does have a smoke-free policy. Step one is to record all incidents of smoke entering your apartment. They recommend documenting as much detail as possible in order to help strengthen your case. Take note of where you believe the smoke is coming from, any health issues it may be causing to you or those that live with you, and when the smoke can be smelt in your apartment. Then, you should contact your landlord, building manager, or whoever the designated party is that is in charge of the property. Explain the issue and ask for assistance. Maybe offer solutions like filling any cracks you see in the walls, checking all ventilation systems, and other flaws that may allow smoke into your space. Keep a copy of all communication just as proof that you actually had these conversations. Perhaps you want to approach your neighbor before you go ahead and contact anyone else. Personally, I recommend going this route prior to others as long as you believe it will be a safe and cordial interaction. You could leave a note asking them to stop smoking, knock on their door and have a friendly conversation, or call/text them in the case that you have their number. 

Ways to Counter Smoke Issue If Your Landlord Refuses

However, what happens if your building does not enforce a no smoking policy? You should know that there are laws protecting apartments that have three or more units to have some sort of policy on smoking rules. These rules can differ from building-to-building, so we recommend looking in your lease as any regulations will be noted there. If not, building owners can face up to a $100 penalty. So definitely double check! On the off chance that there are no smoking rules whatsoever shared with you and you live in a building with three or more units, NYC Health Department recommends calling 311 to let them know. All information that is provided to 311 is confidential and your name will not be included in any reports to others. 

Now, let’s say you have contacted the landlord, left notes, spoke to your neighbor, and you are still smelling smoke in your apartment. This unfortunate predicament is leaving you at a complete standstill and you are not sure what to do. But don’t fret. There are ways around this. The NYC Department of Health recommends reaching out to your lawyer in order to see what your rights are. You can visit websites such as NY Courts Public Health Law Center in order to know what rights you are entitled to as a NYC resident. 

There are also loopholes that you may be able to find in your lease if your apartment is not smoke-free. According to writers at Nolo, an online resource for law-related questions, your lease may include a clause that states residents are to not create a nuisance for others. This means that your neighbors are not allowed to create an environment that disturbs your use of property. If smoke is harmful to you or anyone that lives with you and legally qualifies as a nuisance, you would have a strong case on your hands. However, make sure to record everything as we suggested earlier. Court is a very technical and tricky place and you want to be certain that you have all possible evidence that you can collect. 

In Conclusion

Second-hand smoke is especially never fun if you or someone else has a medical condition such as asthma. If there is suffering, we advise contacting a doctor when you can. 311 is also available in this case to call in order to find resources to help you out. This can also be a piece of information that you offer to your landlord or neighbor to stop unwanted fumes from entering your apartment. 

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