A unit-owner in a small Tribeca condominium wanted to put his apartment on the market, but there was one small problem: the teenager next door and his friends were chimney-caliber marijuana smokers, and the waft of weed smoke threatened to turn off potential buyers. The distraught unit-owner took it to the Ask Real Estate column in the New York Times. “I don’t want to rat the boy out,” he wrote, “but a major financial deal is at stake. What would you suggest?”
“Rat the kid out,” advises attorney Steven Sladkus, a partner at Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas. “Try to resolve the problem, so it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s an ethical issue, and it could turn into a legal issue. Some [buyer] could say that you intentionally hid something or misled them.”
The advice is based on the fact that buyers’ lawyers frequently ask sellers to disclose any nuisances. If the seller remains silent on this issue, a disgruntled buyer could argue that the seller committed fraud in the contract by keeping mum about smoke and odors.
“This is a real quality of life issue,” adds Kathy Braddock, a managing director at the real estate company William Raveis New York City. “If the seller asks for help from the [pot smoker’s] parent, they will most likely get it.”
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