Tenants that cook with curry

39 Replies

Joe, have you had this experience? I have. Clean carpet 3x, paint, clean ducts AND still have strong odor. I just don't want to run afoul of anything. I have a place now and have a very good app., but I do think it akin to a heavy smoker.

I cook with spice all the time with no odor at all. If you are a landlord, and you evict someone over using spices the judge will laugh you out of town.

Joe Gore

I'll never forget gagging in a hallway from cooking with curry, probably by the pound. A dash is one thing, Indian foods too much for me.

That's why my lease included producing offensive or dangerous odors that caused reasonable complaints or health concerns. :)

Definitely not worse than smoking, but then I don't smoke and I love a good curry.

Is there a good vent over the stove? Or could there be? I'm pretty sure you couldn't make a case for it being a health concern, as you can with smoking. "Offensive odor" is pretty subjective, unfortunately. Curious what others might say

BTW, I knew an Indian family that owned a hotel- they ended up turning down a potential deal with Best Western due to a "no curry" clause!

We had a Polynesian med student in our dorms who cooked chicken livers etc in curry. I remember our eyes would sting from the odor wafting from his room. That stuff is spicy & very pungent. Several years later he did an emergency surgery on me so I am glad I never complained :)

He was also the guy who put a Javelin through a dorm door because they were too loud during finals.

Years latter we got a home very cheap because the agent said he had a hard time showing it because it was 'curried to death'. It certainly took a lot of shellac to cover that smell.

Originally posted by Jean Bolger:
"Offensive odor" is pretty subjective, unfortunately.

Yes, it is, never really had to enforce it, if I had it would have been through negotiation to some extent, such is usually up to the reasonable person doctrine and having others attest to it may be needed in extreme cases. Not saying it wouldn't be hard to enforce, depends on your skills, at least it's there as a point of issue. :)

curry is nothing.

wait till you experienced the smell of fermented fish.

I nearly fainted.

In a SFR there is just cleaning costs.

Where it really becomes a big problem is an apartment building.

My sister-in-law lives in Mass. and the apartment she was renting upstairs the people in the unit down stairs would constantly cook curry etc. and the heat and air vents were shared in the building. It was so bad she was contemplating moving.

Yes different races have certain rights but not when it tramples over the consideration of others. There has to be a balance and respect for all tenants in the complex. Eventually so many tenants complained the curry tenants moved.

I do not know what the solution is but isn't there some kind of air cleaner that would get rid of this right by the stove or something?? I guess to people who cook with curry you like the smell but to others it is highly offensive and overly strong.

I HATE the smell of curry-- and I hate smoking too.

But, you can't say "indian = curry = application denied."

Different types of curry are worse than others. I lived with someone from Japan who used spices that smelled awful but didn't linger long. I lived with someone from China and their cooking smelled equally vile, but didn't damage the place. I lived next door to someone from south India, and I could smell it all the time.

You could try putting a clause in the lease about smells, quiet enjoyment, and bothering other tenants... then hope for the best. I would be careful not to specifically say "curry" - perhaps using "strong cooking odors, such as fish, spices, incense, perfumes, and other smells that may linger and bother neighbors." Whether or not you would win in court is another thing.

Some curry is oil based. It's the oil based curry that lingers permanently in a house. It makes the walls yellow. You have to scrub every surface in the home, then prime, then paint, and tons of other stuff to get the smell out. Some forms of curry really cause a whole lot of damage to a property to remove the grime/smell.


You could do that and next the landlord will be telling the tenant they cannot shop at Wal-Mart where will end. I know with a lawsuit.

Joe Gore

I have to comment that those shared heating are a curse both for smells and noise. In one apartment I listened to one song every morning for a year courtesy of a shared heating duct.. If they were cooking with curry too I can't say what would have happened. It is not a smell I am fond of but I don't think you can do much about it,

You can get some action on offensive odors that are not due to cooking as we successfully got a neighbor to remove a dead cow.. and he was a lawyer too..

As my mother was from Trinidad, West Indies and being raised in there, we tend to cook with curry (we curry everything LOL) and it does have a lingering smell (depending on the type of curry some are stronger than others) which can be offensive to others.

When I cook curry nowadays, which is very rare to get rid if the lingering smell, the next day, I boil a small pot of water and vinegar which helps neutralize the odor.

@Pat L. yes I love that jerk chicken especially the one that is cooked on the grill..I haven't mastered that yet since that is more of a Jamaican Cuisine and time consuming in order to have the meat marinated well and slow cooked.

Originally posted by Joe Gore:

You could do that and next the landlord will be telling the tenant they cannot shop at Wal-Mart where will end. I know with a lawsuit.

Joe Gore

What does a policy on neighbors not disturbing one another with noise, strong odors in common areas or neighboring apartments, etc. have to do with dictating no shopping at Walmart? Did you try such a policy and got sued?

i love curry. i put a dash in the rice when i make rice.

install a direct vent system. i am not talking about a "hood vent above the oven". those are crap. i have a 8" fantech vent that vents through the side of the house. that thing can pull a small child up.

This seems like a slippery slope. Babies can be stinky, too. And adults. Hatch chiles are pretty strong, too. They're delicious to me and smell even better. But I can see how some people would hate the smell. I'll agree with the recommendation to get a decent stove hood in place and that will help with any cooking odors. At least inside.

As my mother was from Trinidad...
And the lady she hails from Trinidad
Island of the spices
Salt for your meat, and cinnamon sweet
And the rum is for all your good vices
-- Jimmy Buffet

We love curry, and probably make it once every 2 weeks or so. I've actually never thought about it offending neighbors as we love the smell so much. I feel much more sorry for them on recent weekend days now that my husband has decided to make homemade dehydrated liver treats for our dog (pounds of liver cooking low for 10-12 hours or so. It is just awful - stupid pun intended.)

Oh real nice! Thanks pal! Now I am jonsing for fresh ackee and salt cod.


Originally posted by Pat L.:
@Andrea M.

now if we could just replace it with the taste & enticing smell of true Jerk Chicken that you guys do so well.

I love the smell of curry. But not everyone! But I think the question here was regarding the smell when the unit is vacated.. My good friend bought an owner-occ sfr and spent $10k plus ripping up carpets, cleaning HVAC, etc. One thing that helped him a lot in the end though was the new febreeze fabric odor eliminator. Check out the commercials and try it out! Cheap investment!

In NJ, among the Realtors I know, there are two (obviously <g>) un-official terms:

1. Indian Only House

2. Black Only House.

The first one refers both to that fact that non-Indians tend to find the Indian Spices smell unappealing - but also to the fact that Indian buyers tend to find an Indian Only house immediately More appealing in it's familiarity of smells. Smell is the most primal of senses.

I have a suspicion that Indian people find an 'American Only' (Westerner maybe? <g>) house to have an unappealing smell as well. But so far all my Indians friends deny this - although that may be because they don't understand themselves in those terms.

The second one refers to the apparently common mindless refusal of white people to consider living in a house where black people have lived. I thought that this one was just made-up Realtor BS until I experienced it first hand.

Although I have an large ozone generator so far I have never had the occasion to use it for curry smells but it works so well on other organic smells that it would be the first thing I would try.

No that's not true - The First thing I would do would be market the house in Indians because I would love to have Indians as tenants. In fact; given my preference I would only rent to Indian people. Most especially Sikhs.



If you are in the rental business for the investment of your money looking to make more money than you must make a business decision when screening your tenants! It's no different than companies and corporations performing background and credit checks to determine the risk of hiring a new employee to further protect the owners/shareholders investments/money. If you, the landlord feel that those odors are going to cost you money and potential tenants now and in the long run, then you must decide and take that into consideration doing your screening process. Nothing racist, unethical, or in-moral about that, you're just an very conscious and protective business person! I work for a very successful indian couple who's net worth is well over $10MM and the very first time I talked to him about real estate investments, the 2nd thing that came out his mouth was he never do business with his own people because of the curry smell! And I'm being polite on his actual words! Ultimately, its your decision, profit & losses!