Are there grounds to break a lease due to multiple smoking neighbors in a non-smoking complex?

Multiple neighbors smoke indoors. This is a non-smoking complex. They smoke in their homes as well as the hallway and laundry room. My children are becoming sick and one has developed asthma since moving here in March. One set of neighbors live directly below us and the smoke seeps up where my children sleep. In the past month I’ve been to the emergency room for breathing difficulties in both children and persistent cough, they were sent home with inhalers. My daughter has also had to use a nebulizer. I’m also concerned for my health being 8 months pregnant as it is causing regular headaches.

Asked on December 5, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It may be grounds for breaking your lease:

1) If the lease actually indicates that this is a non-smoking complex, there may be a material breach of lease, which could support termination of the lease;

2) If it was represented to you, prior to you signing the lease, that the complex was non-smoking, and that was a factor in you deciding to rent there, then that may constitute a material misrepresentation which would entitle you to rescind the lease and leave; and

3) It may be that the heavy smoking constitutes a breach of your right to quiet enjoyment, which could give you a cause  of action against the landlord.

Since terminating a lease incorrectly can result in you being liable for the full remaining balance of the lease term, it is recommended you consult with an attorney about your situation in detail before doing anything; it appears you may have rights, but  you want to make sure you seek to vindicate them in the correct way.


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