Q&A: Marijuana Problem in Manhattan

Q I live in a co-op in Manhattan and have a neighbor who enjoys smoking pot. The  problem is he does a horrible job containing the smell. He smokes out the  window and around the apartment. The smell comes into my apartment (which is  directly on top of his) through the window and whatever cracks exist between  apartments. The smell is distasteful and I also experience problems breathing  when this occurs. I have gone to management. They say a letter was mailed,  however, the problem continues and they will not commit to further actions. I  have gone to my local police precinct and they too advised there is nothing  they can do if it is being done behind locked closed doors. Who do I go to now?  

 —Dazed and Confused  

A “The shareholder has a right to the peaceful and quite enjoyment of his  apartment,” explains Jeffrey S. Reich, an attorney at the Manhattan law firm of Wolf  Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, LLP. “Additionally, the shareholder has a warranty of habitability owed by the  cooperative corporation. Thus, as a first course of action the shareholder  should write to the Board of Directors advising the board of the nature and  severity of the problem. The letter should be specific as to the times and  dates of the smoking incidents and the rooms that the shareholder was precluded  from using due to the smoke infiltration.  

 “The letter should also demand that the board take whatever steps may be  necessary to enforce the terms of the corporation's proprietary lease and house  rules, which invariably prohibit residents from creating offensive odors or  taking other actions which would reasonably be anticipated to interfere with  the quite enjoyment of any other residents of the building.  

 “If the board fails to take the actions necessary to resolve the matter, either  by physically altering the building (by sealing any gaps or openings through  which the smoke by moving or by banning the resident from smoking in the  apartment), the shareholder may consider commencing an action against the board  for a breach of the board's fiduciary duty and from constructive eviction  and/or against the resident who is causing the odors for creating a nuisance.  In either instance, the affected shareholder will want to keep copious records  of when the odors were particularly prevalent and to have objective third  parties come to the apartment during those times in order to attest to the  continuous nature and severity of the problem.”  


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  • Do the same rules apply if the offender is a tenant of a Rent Controlled unit owned by the Sponsor? Is the landlord required to enforce rules we vote on as a Co-Op? If we vote to levy monetary penalties for failure to cure and repeated offenses, is the Sponsor required to pay? Thanks,