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Neighbor's cigarette smoke is coming into my apartment!

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
What can I do???

To make a long story short (on my way out the door because it smells so bad in here right now), my upstairs neighbor smokes, and it seems to be coming into our apartment through our bathroom ceiling fan. The bathroom is attached to our bedroom, where we all sleep (including DD.) It even gets so bad some days that it comes across the hall into DD's room (where she doesn't sleep ) and all the way up the hall and into the rest of the house.

We have complained to management- the old manager said, "well, I don't know what I can do." EVEN though the lease says no smoking... We have new management now, and they seem more sympathetic, but still haven't done anything about it. We've called the neighbor and left a message (she won't answer her phone when we call) asking her to please not smoke in that part of her house because it's coming into ours. We hoped she would be sympathetic- she knows we have a new baby. No suck luck. Each time we complain, it's better for about a week and then returns full force.

I know that no one can give me legal advice, but can anyone offer any suggestions of what we can do or what our rights are? We are looking for houses, but for now we are stuck in this apartment until we can afford something else.
post #2 of 19
ugh, I'm sorry you have to deal with this.

There was a story in the paper in Vancouver about a year ago about a woman who was suing her apartment neighbour for the same thing. She won in court. Tho it hasn't set any kind of precedent in Vancouver, it was a boost to those who don't smoke and are affected by it, and a scare by those who do smoke.

I hope you find a way to exercise your right to breathe clean air!
post #3 of 19
Many to you mama. I have BTDT and still there but it's not as bad as it used to be. When it was bad they tried to fix it, nothing worked. It came up through the dryer and any other crevice that it could. Sooo freakin' irritating, know how you feel. And it was when DS was a newborn so I really know how you feel. Only thing we could do was buy air filters(expensive but worth it) and put them in front of the dryer and in our room. Plus run the dryer several x's a day. It did get better after a lot of complaining. Every other week or so I'll pull a load out that reeks of smoke : and have to run it again.
Hope this helps you some. Good luck with it. I know it can be really frustrating. We as well are looking for a house and that's a whole other story...lol.
post #4 of 19
I went through this last year. The smoke was coming in through the dryer vent hole thingy and it was horrible. They tried to seal the vent with some of that foam insulating stuff, and it worked fairly well but wasn't perfect. We ended up moving a couple of months later. Maybe you can seal the bathroom fan/vent on your side and ask your neighbor to do the same. Not sure if that's a safety issue, but I know second hand smoke is. Good luck!
post #5 of 19
You could contact the tenant's union and see if they could help you out. If it states there is no smoking in her lease, the management could give her a ten day comply or vacate notice (I'm assuming you are located in Seattle, like your profile says).

Landlords in Seattle have a legal responsibility to respond to written requests to carry out the duties required by the Landlord/Tenant Act or by the rental agreement within a certain time frame, depending on what it is, but it would be no longer than 10 days. I really don't know, however, if this would fall under that.

The Legal Action Center, where I used to work (and why I'm familiar with tenant/landlord law in Seattle) might be able to tell you more about your options. They deal mainly with evictions, but also with any tenant/landlord issue. You could call them at 206-324-6890.
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by odenata View Post
The Legal Action Center, where I used to work (and why I'm familiar with tenant/landlord law in Seattle) might be able to tell you more about your options. They deal mainly with evictions, but also with any tenant/landlord issue. You could call them at 206-324-6890.
I volunteered there for a while last summer!

The management has responded (which really is all they are required to do within the 10 days), and they don't seem very interested in making her comply with her lease. And I really don't think I have any legal grounds to force management or my neighbor to do something. I know Washington passed the ban on smoking in public places, but curiously I don't think the law applies to my right to breath clean air in my own home. But I will try to contact Legal Action and see what they say.
post #7 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by changingseasons View Post
I volunteered there for a while last summer!

The management has responded (which really is all they are required to do within the 10 days), and they don't seem very interested in making her comply with her lease. And I really don't think I have any legal grounds to force management or my neighbor to do something. I know Washington passed the ban on smoking in public places, but curiously I don't think the law applies to my right to breath clean air in my own home. But I will try to contact Legal Action and see what they say.
Cool! Good luck with things. I do know there was just a case in NYC were neighbors sued their neighbors about this issue (doubt it's something you want to do, but...), and they won.
post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by changingseasons View Post
The management has responded (which really is all they are required to do within the 10 days), and they don't seem very interested in making her comply with her lease.
Hmm...the RCW states they must "commence remedial action" within that time period and make sure it's "completed promptly." Again though, I'm not sure this would fall under that. And, of course, "completed promptly" is open to interpretation.
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Yeah, I'm not sure this would fall under that anyway.

I've been looking around online for WA laws and things, and found this document on the DOH website. Which makes it sound like if I really want to, I can sue (either the neighbor or landlord), but it's not very likely that I would win. Not that I want to go through all that anyway...
post #10 of 19
That would make me so angry. I hope you can move as soon as you can. I would seal off that vent with cardboard and duct tape :{ Once I lived in an apartment on the second floor and during the summer the tennants below would smoke outside right below my bedroom window. We didn't have ac and the window had to be open. It made me furious. I couldn't really do anything bc they were just hanging out on their patio. Sometimes I think smokers have no sense of how their smoking effects others. Grrr...
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by northerngirl View Post
That would make me so angry. I hope you can move as soon as you can. I would seal off that vent with cardboard and duct tape
You know, I thought of that... but we also have really crappy metal windows that already get mold on them during the winter, so we really need to use that fan. Maybe for the summer though I could try that.
post #12 of 19
In the meantime, would it be possible to get an air cleaner - my Dr. suggested one with both a hepa filter and ionic capabilities when I was dealing with smokers at my office (long story). They are kind of pricey but batter than inhaling smoke!
post #13 of 19
Thread Starter 
Ionic cleaners are actually REALLY unhealthy- they put a high level of ozone in your air. And my experience with HEPA is that they help a little, but don't get rid of the smell completely. And then when you change the filter or prefilter, it reeks of smoke.
post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by changingseasons View Post
And then when you change the filter or prefilter, it reeks of smoke.
Well of course it does! It's trapped in there. That's the whole point, right?
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SoHappy View Post
Well of course it does! It's trapped in there. That's the whole point, right?
True- it's just not something that I want to touch or deal with. And I'd rather just open some windows and let the smoke out, rather than collecting it in my room in a nice, concentrated filter of nastiness. If you don't leave the filter on 24x7 (not good for us environmentally OR economically), then you basically just have an ashtray sitting in your room.
post #16 of 19
They should fix the leak.

I'd contact the manager again and ask her to find out where the leak is and have it plugged up. Tell her if its not taken care of then you will contact the owners of the complex.
post #17 of 19
Good luck.
post #18 of 19
In my state I think this could be grounds for breaking your lease - but you would have to go to court and argue about it and it wouldn't be pretty, even if you did end up winning.

I have a similar situation but not as bad. I normally only smell it in the hallways. The smoke does waft into my apartment sometimes, but usually only into the kitchen and only at night when the other tenants are partying. They also leave their cigarette butts everywhere though which really peeves me off because I have a two year old who likes to grab everything off the ground.

I have complained to the landlord and nothing has been done. I am actually planning to move to TX to live with my grandparents who will help me find a single family rental so I am trying to just ignore it as best I can for now.
post #19 of 19
My next door, downstairs neighbor smokes. Her living room is downstairs on the same wall as my kitchen. It is absolutely repulsive and I hate it. It comes into the cupboards I keep my trash bags and pots and pans in. uke: It gives me migraines, makes my stomach upset, and my daughter and I both have allergies. Besides that, I chose to quit smoking and to not allow it in my apartment, so I should be able to live in a smoke free apartment! I don't know what I can do, but I will certainly be watching this thread! My apartment manager said the only option was for me to move into another apartment, but she couldn't guarantee another neighbor wouldn't smoke.
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