Tuesday, February 8, 2011, by Sara Polsky in Curbed.com
Here’s something new in the annals of smoking-related lawsuits and feuds. A New York District Court judge ruled last week that an Upper East Side renter could break her lease because her landlord failed to deal with her complaints about second-hand smoke in her 215 East 96th Street apartment, Crain’s reports. Her landlord had sued her for $12,000 in unpaid rent, covering the four months remaining on her lease and the two months for which she didn’t pay rent while still in residence. The tenant does have to pay reduced rent for those two months, the judge ruled, but the amount won’t be enough to make up for the rest of the lease. When a tenant’s smoking results in an intrusion of second-hand smoke into another tenant’s apartment, and that tenant complains repeatedly, the landlord runs a financial risk if it fails to take appropriate action, the decision reads. In other words: tough luck, buddy.
The ruling is a landmark one, knowledgeable people tell Crain’s, because most smoking disputes don’t even make it to the courtroom. Nor is the landlord likely to appeal because the legal costs are too high. So, renters, here’s one second-hand smoke complaint coupon, good for free or reduced rent. Use it wisely.