General Landlording & Rental Properties

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Annchen Knodt
  • Investor
  • Durham NC (and Brenham, TX)
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Second-hand smoke from condo below

Annchen Knodt
  • Investor
  • Durham NC (and Brenham, TX)
Posted Jul 31 2022, 05:04

I just received a long letter from my tenant detailing multiple health issues she is experiencing that are clearly linked to second hand smoke coming from the unit below. I lived in this condo before renting it out and had been aware of the issue and disclosed it on the property tour. I had also spoken to the neighbor who smokes in the below unit and bought an air purifier before moving out - I had noticed clear improvement and the neighbor seemed to be smoking less. I have now written a letter to the smoking neighbor (who is the owner of the below unit, not a tenant) and forwarded the tenant's letter to the HOA, pointing out the clause in the bylaws preventing any "noxious or offensive trade or activity" (there doesn't seem to be anything specific to smoking, but I think this clearly covers it).

If there is no resolution I plan to release the tenant and hope to find one less sensitive to the issue, but this tenant is a dream and I would so love to keep her happy.  Is there anything else I can/should do? The condo is in Maryland, and specifically I'm wondering:

1) Is there any way to thoroughly seal up crevices etc to prevent smoke from getting into my unit?  From what I read online, it's fairly impossible as it can seep through walls, which seems to be the case here.  I'm going to try and call around to HVAC / duct cleaning companies etc to see if they offer any mitigation services, but would love to hear if anyone has had experience with this type of thing.

2) My tenant has reached out to the Department of Health and I'm wondering if anyone has any knowledge of how this or other government agencies might be able to intervene?  Seems unlikely but I'd like to explore all my options.

3) The HOA has declined to act previously but I'm hoping this letter from my tenant will help. As they seem to be my best bet I'm wondering if anyone has suggestions for spurring them to action.

Thanks!

Germantown, Maryland

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