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What to Do If a Neighbor's Smoking Bothers You

By Deanne Katz, Esq. | Last updated on

Apartment buildings have thin walls so if your neighbor is always smoking, you probably know about it. Now you need to know what to do about it.

Of course you might be one of the few people who don't mind second-hand smoke, in which case you don't have to do anything. But for most people, that cigarette smoke seeping through the cracks and invading your personal space can be difficult to bear.

If your building has shared air vents or you and your neighbor keep your windows open, there's no escaping their smoking habit. But you can do some things to make it stop.

As a first step, you may want to look carefully at your lease. Many buildings and apartments are smoke-free because of the difficulty landlords have in getting rid of the smell and damage like stained carpets.

If your lease prohibits smoking, then there's a good chance your neighbor's does too. You could try pointing that out to your neighbor. If that doesn't work, you could go to the landlord and report the violation.

But be careful: You don't want to do that if you're also violating your lease in some way, and it probably won't help you get along with your neighbor. But we're assuming your relationship already isn't that great if your neighbor is stinking up your apartment with cigarette smoke.

For people who own their own property, there may still be a way to stop the smoking.

Planned communities and condominiums often have a list of covenants and restrictions that apply to every unit. More and more of those prohibit smoking.

The list of restrictions is often long, but this is a good time to look through it to see if smoking is prohibited. If it is, you can complain to the board or HOA about the smoking.

As a last resort, you can try to get the courts on your side by suing your neighbor for private nuisance. A private nuisance is something that interferes with or prevents you from enjoying your own property.

While few states officially list second-hand smoke as a private nuisance, many states recognize it as a toxin. As a result, courts are more sympathetic to arguments that second-hand smoke interferes with the enjoyment of life.

Another way to improve your chances in a suit for private nuisance is to hire an experienced attorney. It's always a good idea to involve a professional when your health is on the line.

Do you have a question about a neighbor dispute? Head over to our FindLaw Answers Neighbors Forum where our community of online legal contributors can share their opinions. Feel free to join the conversation.

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