A Conversation about Odors
mb: We have a board member whose apartment seems to be the source of a chronic stench of garbage and pet odor. It’s the first apartment when you come into the building and it’s terribly offensive. What can we do? He has been a chronic offender with pot smell and noise but has enough votes to get himself on the board. Does it matter if he is on the board or not? Should we call the health department or demand an inspection? Thanks.
Mike MacGowan, Resident Manager:
I think you should handle it just like you would if it were another shareholder, have management send a letter and then wait for them to respond to the letter. It doesn’t matter if he/she is on the board or not.
aarachnoid: Kitty litter has been known to be used to try and cover odor from a dead body (animal/human). Contact board of ed and police for best results. Worked in our building. Source of odor was dead cat.
BP: I agree with Mike. Have management send your board member a letter. Also, check your proprietary lease. If the board member doesn’t reply or won’t let management inspect the apartment, it’s very likely that your lease allows entry without a shareholder’s permission if unsanitary conditions are strongly suspected or known to exist. Our lease even says if apartment windows are excessively dirty and the shareholder won’t clean them, the co-op has the right to go in and have them cleaned. Pot, beer, etc. are a shareholder’s private business, but bad pet and garbage odors from an apartment are something else. Some people aren’t very clean and don’t throw out garbage, soiled cat litter, etc. as often as they should. But as another poster said, there could be a more serious problem in your board member’s apartment. I wouldn’t waste time. Check this out.
Offensive smells like garbage and kitty litter are one thing. However, if you have a personal issue against pot, well that is his own business, the same as someone having a beer or cocktail.
As the others have said, if it is that bad a source of offensive odor, everyone should man up and write the letter with your names. If the odor of mj was really that strong you might ask him to get a fan to blow it out the window and ask the super to put added draft control material on the bottom of the door or add sealer to the saddle if there is one. I wouldn’t put pot smell in the same category of rotten garbage and kitty litter which is a health/vermin issue for the other residents.
Regarding your response, I feel that there is a great difference between someone smoking pot and someone having a beer. Having managed many properties, I have received complaints regarding “pot odor” on particular hallways. Nobody has ever called me to say that Mr. Jones is drinking a Budweiser in his apartment. Simply put, if I have a beer at night nobody knows. If I smoke pot, the odor/smell, more than likely, will be detected and someone will complain.
Um, the building shouldn’t have to put up with disgusting drug addicts. The smell (skunk weed) smells like the name and the pot smoker should make adjustments to his addiction. The management has to send a letter citing warranty of habitability and that they are in default.
Just because some think it’s o.k., look the other way or think it’s someone else’s problem, it’s not. Get tough man!!! Stand up for your rights.
Hi, everyone! HabitatReporter here again, this time with a response from Elliot Meisel of the law firm of Brill & Meisel. “The first issue is whether the building in question is a co-op or a condo,” he says. “Each has a very different way of dealing with such situations. The most important issue here is that board members should be above reproach. They should not be guilty of anything that other shareholders should not be guilty of. It is the responsibility of the board to hold its members to a higher standard. The other board members can try to persuade the problematic board member of that responsibility. Failing that, he or she can be removed from the board either with or without cause by the other board members or the shareholders, depending on the bylaws of the building.
“If the building is a co-op, the board should first check the proprietary lease as the offending board member can be found in default and afforded the chance to comply or be evicted. In a condo, there is no landlord/tenant relationship, and the by-laws are poor at enforcing non-monetary issues, but in addition to having the board member removed from the board the condo can go to court to seek an injunction against the offending conduct, but that is difficult, will take a long time and be expensive.
“Calling the Board of Health is a possibility but is likely to result in the building receiving a violation, not the individual unit-owner, leaving the building, rather than the board member, with the responsibility for rectifying the situation though the owner may be backcharged for the fine.
“When litigating quality of life issues, such as noise, odors, or vermin, several things are important. Have more than one complainant; have the complaints in writing, have them documented over a period of time and have the complainants willing to go to court to testify as the courts will respect a personal appearance over signed affidavits and letters.”