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The Apartment Is Great but the Hallway Smells Awful. What Now?

October 28, 2017

The New York Times
By Ronda Kaysen

Ask Real Estate is a weekly column that answers questions from across the New York region. 

Q. My husband and I are looking to buy a new apartment, and we recently saw a fantastic place in a large co-op on the Upper West Side. It had only one problem: As we exited the elevator, we were overwhelmed by a strong camphor smell flooding the hallway. The seller’s broker explained that a gentleman who lives on the floor uses mothballs and the building is trying to do something about the odor. What, realistically, can be done about this?

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A. Could the problem go away? Maybe. But the board’s options are limited. If the co-op’s proprietary lease prohibits unreasonable odors, the board could claim a breach of the lease and sue the mothball-loving neighbor. But lawsuits are no fun and a court proceeding “could drag on and on” with no guarantee of success, said Phyllis H. Weisberg, a chairwoman of the cooperative and condominium law practice at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads. The board may be able to seek an injunction to compel the neighbor to stop using mothballs, another slow avenue to venture down.

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