19 October 2007

Airing a Grievance

I do not, normally, like to complain in a public forum, but this is driving me nuts. In August we had new neighbors move in across the hall. It looks like they are 2-4 male college students. I am not sure about the number, because I am not sure who exactly lives there, and who just visits a lot. I don't know that the number really matters.

The issue is the smells that come from their unit and directly infiltrate ours. Our doors are directly across from each other and I found out, rather unpleasantly, that if our windows are open we draft in anything that is in the hallway. It used to be the occasional cooking smell, and usually it wasn't bad.

However, things have taken a seriously negative downturn. It seems that they like to smoke. A LOT. And the minute they light up, it smells like a stale ashtray in OUR apartment. One evening, when Sara was suffering from a particularly bad headache I went across, knocked on the door and asked if they would put something at the bottom of the door. Our windows were closed but it was still drafting into our apartment. That time I talked to the blond roommate.

Nothing resulted from that interaction but the installation of a rolled blanket at our door. It didn't seem too bad and we didn't want a conflict, so we let it go. Last night it smelled like bad cooked fish, or something worse that I don't want to mention on this blog, and Sara and I lit 6 scented candle in front of our door and hoped that it would either dissipate or be covered enough for us to fall asleep. We were not home all day, therefore the blanket was not at the door to do its work.

Tonight required another confrontation. I was sitting on the couch, blogging and minding my own business when what should I smell but stale ashtray. As many of you know, I grew up with smoking parents who quit when I was about 13. This led to an abhorrence of all things smoking related, but especially of stale cigarette smoke. The LAST thing I want to smell in my home--which is supposed to my refuge--is ashtray! Unfortunately, this smell was making it past my rolled blanket and my fragrant tart burner by the door.

So I went to talk to the neighbors. Again. This time it sounded like they were having a party and they didn't hear my first knock. A youngish dark-haired guy answered the door. As politely as possible I asked him if he would mind putting something under his door, as I could smell his smoking or cooking in my apartment. He was very polite, but I don't have very high hopes.

After the first incident, when I wasn't sure it was our neighbors, I called the building supervisor and left a message. That day, I could smell stale smoke all the way to elevators. He never contacted me again, but the hallway smelled better for quite awhile and so we didn't bother. However, if it happens again, I am going to contact him.

You see, this building is individually owned condos. Many of them are rented by their owners and I am fine with that, because I am reaping the benefits of that situation. The issue is, I seriously doubt they have permission to smoke in the apartment. This building is just over a year old and everything is new, including the carpets. A couple with young children had the unit before these guys, and I would bet they own the unit. Even if they don't whoever does is not going to want it stunk up so quickly. If our apartment smells bad, I can only imagine what it smells like in there.

Along with the smells we have been subject to an occasionally middle of the night guest or loud party but that hasn't been too bad. Sara usually sleeps through it, and since I wake up during the night regularly it isn't as disruptive as it could be.

So, do you have any advice? Should I try to contact the owner of the unit and complain? I don't think the building manager will do anything about it, and don't know that he could, unless there was a clause about smoking in the condo association contract. I don't really want to "just live with it" since we have 6 months left on our lease and I HATE being in a smelly apartment.

Well, that is enough of that.


TulipGirl said...

Not a real solution to the interpersonal issue of this. . . but an open jar of vinegar each smoke odor like you wouldn't believe! Remember my folks' house in Gurnee? The basement fireplace vented weird, and a bowl of vinegar was great at clearing that up. (And it works for ciggie smoke, too, as we found in Ukraine. . .)

Splendiferous MT said...

Oh how awful Bec! I hope you get this situation resolved soon. I wish I had a suggestion, but I don't. I LOVE YOU!

Dustin and Stacey said...

Apartment living brings on interesting and frustrating conflicts. I think that since you have confronted them twice already and the issue isn't getting much better, I would talk to the owner. The guys will probably know it is you that reported them but if it is really bothering you that much, it's probably worth it.