Q&A: Smoking in the Building

Q. I live in a condo, and my downstairs neighbor is constantly smoking. I brought it to the attention of management and nothing has been done. What are my options as an owner? Do I bring legal action against management, or do I take legal action against the neighbor where the cigarette smoking is coming from?

                                 —Driving Me Crazy

A. “Smoking and second-hand smoke are very sensitive topics in New Jersey condominiums,” says attorney Norman Zlotnick of the firm Hyberg, White & Mann based in Northfield. “It appears that this condominium has not banned smoking in the common areas, but even if it has, this person may be smoking in his/her unit, a place where it is not banned. The questioner can demand alternative dispute resolution (ADR) with the offending person. He/she can demand that the management consider appropriate means to filter the air or seal the offending unit. If all else fails, the questioner can bring an action against the offending person for nuisance. Needless to say, if the particular condominium does prohibit smoking in the common areas, and the offender is smoking in those areas and management has refused to do anything, it would be necessary to include the association in any ADR or legal action.”   

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