Secondhand smoke problem & Landlord liability

By TiffanyL7


We are in dire need to move out of our apartment. We have been here 4mths and must break lease. However, we are not in a financial position to do so accoridng to the Lease requirements to do so.

That being said, the reason for needing to is of severe health problems that the landlord has claimed, they can do nothing about. BEFORE we moved in we advised that cigarette smoke drift was a factor in us signing a lease. We were to have no exposure to such whilst living in our home.

My husband is a professional competing athlete, and I suffer severe reactions to cigarette smoke including vomiting. All of this information was devulged to the Manager at the time of showing us the apartments. She assured us that we would be fine, that the neighborhood is respectable and she suggested we opt for the first of the two apartments as we would be safe there. This she said after we walked into the second apartment and were hit with smoke drift pouring in through the open glass sliding door and I stated about our sensitivity to smoke. We also have 2 young children under 5.

Four months later and several complaints to the landloard both verbal and written has had nothing done other than them fitting a rubber guard to the bottom of our front door to minimise smoke drift from the Common Stairwell, and to advise that they cannot tell Tenants where they can smoke, other than in the Lease it states they must not smoke in Common Areas.

We have followed guidance and direction according to BNI and Maryland Smoke Free Apartments, kept a record of every complaint.

We have even advised them of the Surgeon General’s report about Secondhand involuntary exposure and damages to health.

We have raised the question with them as to why they have not issued a letter, reminder, or notice to tenants in our building and complex that it is a breach of lease to smoke in common areas… no reply.

We asked them what can be done to stop people smoking beside the building from other buildings while they meander around and the smoke drifts in through our windows… no reply.

We asked them what are we to do. We are FORCED against our will to close our windows and doors, to stop natural air flow to our home and use airconditioning… which is expensive and not a solution as it recycles the air already in the apartment, thus recycling the secondhand smoke drift toxins, not to mention our health is jeopardised by using the air conditioning air as opposed to natural air.

What are we to do now? Landlord has a clause in lease to state they are NOT liable for harm, injury or actions of tenants. BNI says to the contrary, irrespective of what is in their lease they cannot deny, or be excused from, liability.

This, along with other complaints about this complex, have either gone completely ignored, or we’ve been issued a ‘Sorry that you are experiencing problems you are always free to break you lease by following the guidelines in the lease – i.e. 30 days notice plus 2mths additional rent after the 30 days has completed" which is approximately 3mths rent as of today.

Other information we have sent to the manager about troubles in the complex include: empty drug packets in the carpark, soiled condoms in the carpark, public urination in our garden from Golf Course players who relieve themselves while playing, loud car engine noise in the early AM, loud partying in the carpark and buildings into the AM… list goes on.

We advised 2 weeks ago that if they could answer our correspondence and request to have the 2months waived then we wish to break lease – no reply.

Then every email I have sent through for the past week has returned a delay in server message. So when this happened twice I conducted a test. I sent another email from same email address, a new email address, and my husband’s email address. I received same delay return message for my original email, but not for the new one or my husband’s… I work in IT so I am very aware that when an email address has been intentially blocked this kind of message can be  returned when asking for a Delivery receipt. This infers that my correspondence as been intentionally blocked by them so they can avoid receiving any more complaints and reminders, and questions, and new information, proof, and additional exposure occurrences.

Today I am formulating a letter and sending via certified mail, along with their Release from Lease application, to their main office. I am also again on the phone with BNI & will file a complaint here if no one can give me legal advice on how to proceed.

Question: Do any of these actions warrant me being able to leave under the ‘Constructive Eviction’ or ‘warranty of habitibility’ laws?

Thank You for helping.

Edited on: Monday, July 1st, 2013 12:30 pm

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