Judge Says Owner Neglected Secondhand Smoke Complaint
A district court judge in Nassau County recently ruled that an Upper East Side tenant could break her lease and pay reduced rent because when she had complained about a neighbor's cigarette smoking, the landlord failed to take appropriate action to alleviate the secondhand smoke.
In this particular case, the landlord sued the tenant for roughly $12,000 in unpaid rent. The tenant claimed that she had complained about secondhand smoke in her apartment and was fed up, so she vacated her unit with four months left on her lease. She had stopped paying rent two months before she moved out.
According to the court ruling, “When a tenant's smoking results in an intrusion of secondhand smoke into another tenant's apartment, and that tenant complains repeatedly, the landlord runs a financial risk if it fails to take appropriate action. This case involves such a situation.” The ruling excused the tenant from any obligation to pay rent after her “constructive eviction.”