What would you do? Problem with upstairs smoker

oceanside2006June 19, 2006

I just moved into an apartment I enjoy 3 months ago.

The woman who rents above me, has been living there 7 years. I don't mind her footstep noises, since it's generally muffled. I don't even mind it when she plays her stereo booming loud for an hour or two once a day.

The main problem is this: I'm allergic to cigarette smoke. My sinuses get badly infected, then I develop wheezing, coughing, and bronchitis if I'm exposed too long.

The woman upstairs is a heavy smoker. I cannot smell her smoke below me, but she has a habit of throwing her cigarettes down on my porch, and in my small garden of flowers. I am so sensitive to smoke, I can smell it when she throws one down off of her porch that is still burning.

She doesn't even stub them out half of the time. :(

In one day I can collect anywhere from 3 - 6 off my front porch, and close to 3 or 4 daily off the patio.

I don't want to bother the owner with this. I went upstairs and asked her nicely not to throw down her cigarettes on my porch or patio anymore. She just looked at me and said 'okay, alright' then slammed her door. I heard her on her balconey later saying 'I've been living here 7 years and no one is going to tell me what to do around here'.

She hasn't stopped. Every day I go out with a mask on if one is burning, stomp it out, and put on gloves and throw them away.

How would you handle this situation in the most adult way possible? The idea of going to the owner with this just seems so petty. I do not want to be the 'complainer' either.

I'm not anti-smoker either. I don't care if someone smokes, as long as they respect other's space.


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Check your lease, odds are your neighbor probably signed a contract with the same language as yours (standard clauses tend not to change much). I have several rental houses that I manage. One standard clause in my lease is that tenant will "...agree to comply with all present and future laws, ordinances and regulations of any public authority relating to use of the Premises. Tenant shall not make or permit any noisy or offensive use of the Premises, or allow any nuisance or use which might interfere with the enjoyment of neighbors. Tenant will not permit any hazardous act or use of the Premises which might increase the rate of insurance thereon...Tenant will not make or permit any waste on the Premises..."

With that said, you do have rights, and the long term resident does not have more rights than the new one. In the sample clause I wrote above, your neighbor is in violation in multiple ways: she's probably violating local fire ordinance by dropping a lit cigarrette off her balcony and creating a potential fire hazard. (Building owner does not want this risk, better to nip her bad habits than risk a fire that destroys property and potentially takes human life.) She's interfering with your enjoyment of the premises. She's using the exterior of the building as a dumping ground, essentially.

Health issues that arise from structural issues or neighbors is not something a landlord wants to contend with. This woman needs to extuingish her butts in an enclosed container (they make mini butt retainers much like the larger ones you see outside public buildings. She can pick one up for under $5 at Ace.)

I'd encourage you to approach your landlord and use the same tone you have here. You don't come off as a whiner or someone screeching for their rights. You sound like a civil, level-headed person who just wants to come to a reasonable compromise and be comfortable in your own home. Mention not only the health aspect of it, but make sure to convey to the landlord that his/her property is at potential risk (e.g. "sometimes those cigarettes are still burning when she tosses them down, and when they land on my porch or other part of the building, it makes me anxious that it might be a fire hazard...". That should get the landlord's attention ;) You do not need to suffer in silence!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 10:10AM
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You tried to be nice and asked her not to throw cig butts on the property you are renting.Now call the owner. I'm sure he/she would not want a fire started this is down right dangerouse. Its not just annoying its a fire hazard and should be stopped. All she has to do is use a ash tray. Its rude nasty and a potential fire in the making. Leave the cig butts as evidence and call your landlord. Do it today!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 1:11PM
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sounds like you got a real nutcase up there, time to fight back.

do not overlook her noise as well, that's important. she's an inconsiderate turd and must be dealt with accordingly: give her no quarter. in your case it's real easy, the dumb **** is leaving evidence like a trail of faery tale crumbs, so call the cops and any EPA-like authorities in your area.

I'd work around the landlord as you know those just care about the money coming in, and they're not likely to fight a steady tenant on your behalf. it's not their lives being wrecked, they don't live there.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 11:40PM
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No offense, but if you're not going to complain about this and the renter won't do as you asked, then you will need to deal with it somehow or another. Unless of course you ask her again to please not throw them out being you are allergic to cigarettes. I would just keep knocking on her door everytime she throws one out. It might annoy her that you keep coming to your door where she might just stop doing it. If she is vindictive, then she might do it more but worth a shot. Good Luck. I complained to my neighboars landlord and landlord came out and took one look at his house and how they kept it, and is now selling it. It worked for us. Good luck. Kim

    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 9:56AM
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I meant to her door not yours in the one sentence ..lol:)

    Bookmark   June 24, 2006 at 3:59PM
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I would write her a note telling how you are higly alergic and that you are forced to wear a mask and gloves. Right now she probably thinks you are just a complainer and need to deal with the problem. Hearing why its a problem may change her mind.

Or else call your landlord. There is a reason you pay rent and the LL should resolve this for you.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   June 25, 2006 at 9:42PM
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Enforcing your rights has a lot to do with where you live. Is there rent control? Because if there is, the landlord can't threaten to throw "smokey" out. Landlords do care whether thereis peace in the building, and don't like smokers either. You have to completely repaint when they move out, replace drapes. Tell the landlord about the butts being thrown overboard, thats a major fire hazard.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 2:08AM
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If you do talk to her again--which I don't think is likely to solve anything--ask her if she would like it if someone were to throw soda cans in her flowers. She's littering on your space.

Don't bother calling the cops; they're not going to care. She's not committing a crime, unless she's littering on public property. Call the landlord. And be certain to emphasize the burning cigarettes as a fire hazard, but also the litter of butts as an eyesore. Unless s/he's a slumlord s/he's probably not going to like the property looking like a dump. It'll be a turnoff to other potential renters, for one thing.

If nothing else works, you could always talk to a lawyer about suing for trespass. her butts on your space is trespassing. It's a tort.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2006 at 12:45PM
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Her butt in your apartment is trespassing, not her cigarette butts.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2006 at 10:20AM
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