Smoking Neighbor Ruining Condo Living Experience

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K.G. from Litchfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We live in a beautiful three-unit condo and have one of the neighbors from you know where! They smoke outside their unit and it fills our porch and waifs into our open windows. We have had guests ask, “Where is that smoke coming from?” while sitting on our living room sofa visiting. There is nothing in the By-Laws regarding smoking but there is the “Annoyance and Nuisance” section in the governing document. We have mentioned this to the owner and his response was, “There is no way you smell my smoke!”. We have called him and asked him to consider smoking from his other door. They now have a perpetual visiting guest who chain-smokes night and day! Our By-Laws state that we need to write a letter to the Executive Board. This man is the president, the third unit owner does not want to “rile” this man or his equally rude grown daughter for fear of repercussions. What course of action can be taken within the law? Isn’t there a law in Connecticut regarding everyone’s right to “Fresh and Pure air”? Thank you for your comments. We are at wits end.

Mister Condo replies:

K.G., you took the civil approach and were rewarded with nothing but grief from the offender. You tried the next logical choice of writing to the Board to enforce the Annoyance and Nuisance provisions of your by-laws and were told they would not do so. Next up, you sue! I am not an attorney so please consider my advice as friendly and not legal. You will most certainly want to hire an attorney to protect your rights in this situation and to make sure that you and your association follow the proper steps for ending this nuisance.

The President of the Board is not immune from following the rules of the association when it comes to nuisance. Your argument will be that smoking in the common grounds created a nuisance condition and you demand that the rules of the association be enforced. I am not aware of any state law on “fresh and pure air” but the Department of Public Housing has an excellent resource for you at http://www.ct.gov/dph/cwp/view.asp?A=3137&Q=486714. If you follow the steps outlined there, you may be able to have smoking stopped completely both inside and outside of the units in your association. Good luck!

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