From the Court to the Board Decisions on Smokers, Noisy Equipment and Alteration Agreements

Every day, New York's court system hands down verdicts and decisions that impact the day-to-day operation of co-op and condo buildings. Some decisions are far-reaching, precedent-setting game-changers; others affect building administration in subtler ways. Keeping abreast of the most recent decisions affecting the city's cooperatives and condominiums is an important part of the job description for both board members and managing agents. Let's take a look at some recent decisions with implications for building communities.

Ewen v. Maccherone

Lesson: Condo Owners, Beware of Smoking that's a Nuisance to Your Neighbors

The battle over smoking in New York City's restaurants and bars was decided years ago, but in apartment buildings, the conflict rages on – and sometimes goes all the way to court before a decision is reached.

One recent such decision involved two residents of a condominium at 200 Chambers Street in Manhattan whose argument over cigarette smoke eventually led them before a judge. Mr. Ewen, who owns and resides in unit 7C sued Mr. Maccherone, who resides in 7D, for nuisance and negligence, claiming that Maccherone and his guests smoke cigarettes in the unit and that the smoke invades Ewen’s unit.

The condo’s rules and regulations contained the typical provision that “No Unit Owner shall make or permit any disturbing or objectionable noises, odors or activity in the building, or do or permit anything to be done therein, which will interfere with the rights, comforts or conveniences of other Unit Owners or their tenants or occupants.” The rules and regulations also prohibited smoking in the condo’s playroom and health club.

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