Something smells fishy: What to do when smells ruin an apartment

Dealing with some unpleasantness is unavoidable when you live in New York City. You might not love the traffic or the noise, but they are inescapable consequences of living in the largest city in the United States.

However, you should be able to escape the unpleasantness when you get home and close your door to the outside world. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case for everyone. This is particularly true if you have especially odorous neighbors.

Overwhelming smells

Smells can permeate walls, seep into carpet and travel through vents quite easily. And when a landlord fails to make necessary repairs or replacements, these smells can persist and cause serious problems for tenants.

For instance, recently, a family had to move out of their apartment when the smell of animal waste made their Manhattan home unlivable. The family had suffered foul odors resulting from an uncapped sewer vent gas pipe, which allowed smells from the new pet store below them to seep in and ruin everything in their home.

The tenants claim they suffered serious respiratory issues as a result of the fumes, including chest pain, nausea and headaches. They filed a suit seeking $3 million.

Making a stink

If you are battling bad smells in your apartment, you may have grounds to demand action from your landlord or seek damages. This is especially true if the smells are hazardous. This could include secondhand smoke, toxic chemicals or waste.

In these situations, check your lease for guidance on what the rules are and what the expectations of the landlord are. In some cases, the landlord will have to deal with the source of the smell and eradicate it.

However, if the landlord will not address the situation and you are concerned about your health, you may need to consider moving out and breaking your lease or taking legal action against your landlord or other parties.

Understand that these can be complicated situations, so it can be important to consult an attorney before taking these steps. Making the wrong decision could have considerable consequences for you, both in terms of your living situation and your finances.

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