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Vent shaftDec 12, 2018

I own a co-op unit in a 1960s building. During a recent renovation my neighbor upstairs removed the kitchen in his unit which is above me ( he combined two apartments) and now my kitchen vent duct opens directly into his living room. After the renovation, I now hear everything he says as clearly as if he was standing in my apartment. The super has looked at the vent shaft with a flashlight, and says the vent shaft is "completely open" and straight." There are no turns to in it. He says there's a turn in the kitchen shaft of his own unit in the building. So it appears that my unit is directly linked to the above unit via the shaft.

Is this legal? Is this a code violation in New York City?

Join the Conversation Comments (2)
Vent shaft - Marty Dec 13, 2018

I don't know about the legality of it, but the first thing I would do is find out if he can he hear every word that YOU say while he's in his apartment.

If he can, then I think a good argument can be made that your right to privacy is being violated solely by actions that your neighbor took - not you.

If he doesn't care that you hear everything he says, then that's fine. But, if he can hear everything you say and you don't want that, then he caused the problem and must fix it.

I would notify the Board if you have not already done so. The co-op's attorney may need to be consulted about this matter, too.

Good luck.

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Vent Shaft - Steven424 Dec 13, 2018

Agree with Marty. The situation you are describing, having raw cooking fumes venting into a habitable space, is an unsafe condition and almost assuredly a violation of Dept of Building regulations and code. You don't have liability in this situation, but your board needs to get involved. They need to review the alteration agreement to see if this venting was called out in the plans and part of the alteration approval. If it was, it does not absolve your upstairs neighbor from responsibility for complying with code, but it will probably cause your board to be more involved in this issue.

It it wasn't part of the plan, and the contractor just built it this way because it was convenient, then your neighbor and his contractor have a big additional renovation ahead. The configuration you described cannot remain because of the health and safety issues. Fumes from a kitchen can contain Carbon Monoxide, which is deadly.

Bottom line, IMHO, is that you are ok (just don't agree to anything, like "are you ok with the configuration?"), and your upstairs neighbor and their contractor are in deep dodo.

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