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Construction and food smells coming through 'solid' wallFeb 03, 2019

I'm a member of a co-op board in a 1960s building.

We have a resident (A) who is complaining about cooking smells and construction smells coming from a neighboring apartment (Z). The apartments share a wall that should be solid -- there are no vents between these two apartments.
The problem was brought to our attention almost a year ago when Apt A complained about strong cooking smells, but apt Z was about to do a renovation, and we thought that would address it. Instead, the smells have been ongoing and Apt A can smell the pipe soldering, plastering and painting and has photos showing plaster dust from the renovation piling up on her floor and on the plugs of lamps and appliances plugged into their party wall. There is a definite breeze coming through the baseboards/electrical outlets -- it's enough to blow a smoke test around.

Apt A says this is a violation of the warranty of habitability and the proprietary lease. Is the co-op responsible to address this, and if so, how do we fix it? The wall seems solid, except for the breeze/dust/smells, and Apt A even has a second layer of sheetrock on their side due to an earlier renovation.



Join the Conversation Comments (2)
Smells - Marty Feb 03, 2019

Sounds like apt A is correct. The co-op needs to do something. It's possible that Z's renovation was a sub-standard job since A can now smell other things that they did not smell prior to the renovation. The plaster dust piling up on A's floor is a health hazard at a minimum and needs to be addressed immediately.

I recommend that the co-op hire someone to check the integrity of that shared wall. If it needs to be repaired, then do it ASAP. and let the co-op pay for it.

It's possible that the co-op can try to collect the repair money from Z's contractor, but the co-op will need to show that it was a shoddy renovation that caused the extra smells and the piling of dust. Good luck.

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wall thoughts.. - REAPLLC Feb 04, 2019

Unless there is an issue with the structural aspect of the wall prior to the renovation (which it does not seem to be the case), the coop is not responsible. Wall finishes are the responsibility of the Shareholders as per most any Proprietary Lease.
Some older buildings were frame built with wall cavities that do permit odors, sounds, etc to breath through.. not the most desirable construct, but perfectly legal and to code.

Some solutions in a couple similar buildings and situations we have had was to insulate the cavities with sound bat which does cut down the odors also. The walls should be fully insulated and sealed around all penetrations, switches and receptacles, etc. Additionally, insulation around the apartment door will cut down on the ambient odors in the halls.

Its important to realize also, that while some foods and cooking smells are offensive... everyone tolerance levels are different and there is no way to gauge the true levels of odor tolerances to each person who may complain.

Good Luck
~AR

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