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?


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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