Smoke drift between flats

Smoke drift between flats

8:10 AM, 21st May 2013, About 11 years ago 3

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Smoke drift between flatsI am aware of a potential dispute regarding smoke drift between flats.

The block in question comprises 24 flats in three blocks.

One of the leaseholders on the first floor has recently taken up smoking.  The resident on the second floor immediately above has lodged a formal complaint with the managing agents citing intolerable levels of smoke drift.

There are no obvious defects with the building or wants of repair.

The lease does not prohibit smoking within the flats and environmental health do not consider this unreasonable behaviour. Notwithstanding this, the leaseholder who is complaining is looking to the landlord/managing agent to undertake building modifications to prevent the ingress of smoke into their flat. These would probably involve sealing all possible points of entry e.g. cavity wall vents, pipe or service entries etc.

Has anyone encountered anything similar and does anyone consider the Landlord obliged to carry out such modifications and recover cost through general service charge? This could also of course establish a precedent for other flats within the block.

Your thoughts will be appreciated.

Mike Rolph

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Mark Alexander - Founder of Property118

8:18 AM, 21st May 2013, About 11 years ago

Hi Mike

I am a smoker myself but I do not smoke in my home, I go outside, just like most smokers do these days. We have got used to having to do that since the smoking ban.

My AST specifically prohibits smoking in my rental properties. Obviously it is very difficult to police this but complaints from neighbours would certainly provide me with good reason to talk to my tenants and if they refused to comply I would serve notice.

If you are happy for your tenants to smoke in your property, perhaps this is a good basis for you to negotiate with your tenant. He/she will find it extremely difficult to find another landlord who allows smoking so perhaps paying for extractor fans would be acceptable to your tenants if you were to offer that as an option?

If your tenant is not willing to compromise by smoking outside or paying for the necessary moderations to the property I think you should seriously consider serving notice. If you don't, the dispute with the neighbours could escalate and who knows where that could lead.

Michael Bond

12:48 PM, 28th May 2013, About 11 years ago

I am confused by Mike Rolph's terminology. He refers to the occupant of the flat who smokes as a leaseholder, that is the "owner" of his flat, or technically the owner of a long lease of perhaps 99 years on it. He then refers to the "landlord". Does he mean the freeholder? Perhaps Mike owns the freehold of the block and retains ownership of some of the flats while having sold long leases on others. This raises the question of how the block is managed.

If the flat of the smoker has been sold the responsibility for this problem lies with whatever management structure is in place. In the case of so large a block it is likely to be a management company, and the company has the problem of resolving the situation. If the leaseholders ("owners") are shareholders in the company it would be up to the smoker and his neighbour to argue their cases to convince their fellow shareholders, who may include Mike, as to who if anyone pays for any measures that are agreed.

If both ocupiers are tenants of Mike the most pragmatic solution might be to give one of them a Section 21 Notice to leave!

Michael Bond.

12:28 PM, 12th June 2013, About 11 years ago

Hello Michael, To clarify all the flats are held on long leases and leaseholders are shareholders in the property holding company which has elected directors. A separate property management company deals with the day to day running of the block. Whilst certain measures could be undertaken to alleviate the problem the core issue, as you suggest, is focussed on whether the holding company/all shareholders should undertake and pay for this work. Is this a matter for the neighbours to resolve between them. also raise potential precedent for the future. The managing agents have not been able to give definitive answer on this. There is nothing in the leases to prohibit smoking within the flats.

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