How should I deal with my non-smoking neighbors?
January 15, 2014 5:47 PM   Subscribe

I moved into a sixplex that several friends I have lived in. Everything is great, except my neighbors smoke despite the building being non-smoking. I typically do not notice at all unless someone is having a party and a large group is smoking. Going into the building I knew the residents smoked, even though it was against the lease. Should I go to the landlord or deal with it?

The landlord knows too, as I've seen him do maintenance with my neighbor's ashtrays clearly visible. I've asked my neighbors, kindly and several times, to open a window or have guests smoke outside. It really is only when you have 2+ people smoking in the same unit that I smell it. And it can get bad, especially if they're partying. I'm the only one in the building that does not smoke. I had no idea that it was this bad. I have asked my neighbors, several times, to open a window or smoke outside if they're having company over. Being 2013, asking someone not to smoke indoors is not a crazy request. However, this was met with a LOT of hostility. I'm the new kid on the block and my neighbors have all been here for 5+ years. I can why this might be disruptive for them.

How should I handle this? I feel as if I go to the landlord the situation with my neighbors will deteriorate and he will do no sort of follow up. He's already aware people smoke in my building, long term tenants, and it was hard to get into this building. I also fear that it will ostracize, which I'm usually not against but as the building is tight knit and I'm new, I do not want to cause too much commotion.

I realize it is cold out, but all I'm asking is a window be opened and people don't chain smoke. If I go into the hallway it smells even worse than my apartment. I come from a family of smokers, so I am not sensitive to smoke and I know what heavy smoking smells like. Part of me thinks there is no solution short of moving, which might be my solution. But I thought I'd at least reach out the community before doing something drastic.
posted by geoff. to Human Relations (11 answers total)
geoff.: "How should I handle this?"

Find a no smoking apartment. Or at least a landlord who will enforce it.
posted by Sphinx at 5:50 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think it is unlikely that you will change the entire sixplex, including the landlord. So, what are you doing to help yourself (keep smoke out of the apartment, etc.)? In the past, people have been given advice about how to do this using fans, etc. -- what has worked and not worked for you?
posted by Houstonian at 5:52 PM on January 15, 2014

You may be able to get out of your lease if the place was advertised as nonsmoking. Maybe. It's going to depend on your jurisdiction, what the lease says, whether or not you have a strong tenants' rights org where you are, and your tolerance for bureaucratic stuff and moving.
posted by rtha at 5:59 PM on January 15, 2014 [6 favorites]

you're the only nonsmoker in a 6-unit, nominally nonsmoking building? the numbers are arrayed against you.
posted by bruce at 6:08 PM on January 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Ask your landlord to pay for weather stripping your apartment to keep out the smell (where is the smell coming in from??)

After that, try to legally break your lease.
posted by jbenben at 6:11 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

This would be a total dealbreaker for me, so I'd talk to the landlord about it. If he doesn't care to enforce the policy, I'd move. And if the landlord put up a fuss about that I'd definitely push back hard, even perhaps involving a letter from a lawyer. But that's just me - I simply won't live amongst cigarette smoke.
posted by BlahLaLa at 6:21 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

If i moved into an apartment expecting the building to be nonsmoking, i would be PISSED if a neighbor smoked. (We got some evicted for this last year, actually.)
But, you moved in knowing it wasn't enforced.
I'd move.
posted by Ms Vegetable at 6:27 PM on January 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

I actually don't know that you want your neighbours to smoke outside. The smoke will get into your place more easily that way, if you ever have windows open, or any sort of ventilation.
posted by lollusc at 6:45 PM on January 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Call your municipal housing authority (do you have 311 where you are?) and report it.
posted by brujita at 10:58 PM on January 15, 2014


But also, this asshole landlord needs to pay for what is clearly false advertising and very probably illegal. Call every government and business beaureau you can think of to report him, and INSIST you not be punished or have to pay extra for breaking the lease. It really doesn't matter what you knew when you moved in- it's not in writing and you obviously did not know the full extent of the problem. Make the landlord pay, please, so this doesn't happen to the next poor soul who comes along.
posted by quincunx at 8:32 AM on January 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm guessing declaring one's building a non-smoking environment makes the insurance cheaper. And thus your new clandestine assignment is finding out who your landlord's insurer is. Not that you'll get them to enforce it, because if they've been letting people rent there for years with a policy like that on the books, starting now is going to be ... difficult. But you might be able to get out of the lease and move somewhere else.
posted by pwnguin at 3:14 PM on January 16, 2014

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