J.R. from Hartford County writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Is there any recourse for smells from cooking (or any strong permeating smells) that make the owners of the adjoining townhouse very uncomfortable? The new neighbors are renters. The complainants are long-time residents but now feel they cannot live in their unit because the smell is so strong. Nothing covers the odors. They are not even sure someone else would buy their unit.
Mister Condo replies:
J.R., that is an interesting problem. Most condominium by-laws have provisions that disallow nuisance, which can come in many forms, including noise, smoke, etc.. The real question is will the odor of strong food smells constitute a nuisance, and if so, can the association take steps to rid the nuisance? Most of the recent legal cases I have seen deal with nuisance odors from marijuana, which is now legal in many states for home consumption. Many condominium associations have brought suit against marijuana-smoking unit owners under the nuisance clause of their governing documents and have been able to prevent smoking of marijuana within their associations.
I am not an attorney but I think you would be well advised to seek a qualified legal opinion on this matter before you proceed further. Challenging someone’s cooking choices could lead to a discrimination lawsuit if the association is not careful. Get a qualified legal opinion before you take action. If you can’t solve the odor problem, at least you will know you did all you could to protect the offended unit owner. Good luck!