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Regarding landlords responsibility for gaps that cigarette smoke enters my property?

(59 Posts)
Oldisthenewblack Thu 11-Feb-16 16:31:58

I live in a housing association flat. There appears to be some kind of gap at the back of the kitchen cupboard under the sink. The holes are where pipework emerges, so it's a 'necessary' hole. The problem is that the gaps around the pipework are just empty, there is no filler or cover there. These holes must somehow be connected to the flat next to me, as over the 15 years I have lived there, all manner of smells have emerged from this cupboard, food smells, paint name it.

I've always put up with this as I realise there are lots of things that have to be tolerated when you're living in close proximity to other people. However, a new tenant has just moved in next door, and I suspect he's a smoker as this morning, when I entered my kitchen, the smell of cigarette smoke hit me.

Now, just to be absolutely clear: I am well aware that what other people do in their own homes is their business. I am entirely unconcerned with whether someone smokes or not. My concern is that this smoke is entering my property and, if it continues, could affect my health. I suffer from asthma, take two inhalers to manage the problem, and cigarette smoke is one of the things that can really bring on an attack.

I rang the housing association this morning and was told, in no uncertain terms, that there's nothing they can do. They continually repeated that "we can't tell people what to do in their own homes". ENTIRELY missing the point that I have no desire to curtail what people do in the privacy of their own homes. The maintenance woman was extremely patronising and because of her attitude I'm going to put in a formal complaint, but aside from that, I'm asking: am I being unreasonable to expect the landlord to sufficiently seal gaps between properties so that cigarette smoke from one property does not enter another? Is it really My responsibility?

I felt I was being fobbed off. One member of staff, suggested that for example, if my neighbour were to smoke out of the window, it may still drift into my property via MY window. There is of course, no comparison, as I could close the window! It was just one of many silly things they said to me. None of which addressed the issue of my property being (in my opinion) inadequately sealed.

Thank you for reading - sorry it's so long!

whois Thu 11-Feb-16 16:39:09

Buy some of that expanding foam stuff and sort it yourself. Or stuff rages and a bit of duct tape or something.

Why even involve the HA?

fakenamefornow Thu 11-Feb-16 16:43:01

I agree. It would probably cause you a lot less stress to just sort it out yourself.

Oldisthenewblack Thu 11-Feb-16 16:43:37

Because the hole is inaccessible to me. It's actually behind the kitchen cupboard - I could not lean in that far. I can only see it because the top of the panel at the back of the cupboard has been cut away. It may even extend down further. The back panel would need to be taken off to access it. And my mobility is not great at the best of times. Thank you for your response.

orangepudding Thu 11-Feb-16 16:44:07

I would try to cover it myself with some rags and taping over it so the pipes can still be accessed but the smell will hopefully be removed.
We lived in a house where the neighbours smoked, it made on of our bedrooms stink - there was nothing we could do.

BugPlaster Thu 11-Feb-16 16:44:42

I had this problem in private rental when expecting first child and landlord blamed it on my sensitive sense of smell due to pregnancy. Then he look behind cupboards and found a gap all the way round the kitchen, cigarette smoke coming straight up. He did exactly what pp said - expandable filler in hole. It might take a lot of filler but the problem was only slight after that and I felt better about the potential threat to newborn's health.

fakenamefornow Thu 11-Feb-16 16:46:28

Oh and actually I don't agree that's it's entirely up to your neighbour what he does in his flat. Most private ll won't allow smoking, ha are lagging behind on this.

BugPlaster Thu 11-Feb-16 16:46:34

And no it shouldn't be your responsibility but it is your health - there are articles online you can show to authorities if you really can't access the gap yourself.

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Feb-16 16:48:41

If the faint smell of cigarette smoke coming through the back of a cupboard, into your kitchen, from a separate property triggers your asthma, I'm not sure the Landlord could reasonably be expected to take responsibility for that.

It's very common to have gaps around pipes.

Oldisthenewblack Thu 11-Feb-16 16:53:14

Worra - Did I say it was a "faint smell"? No, those are your words. It is not even close to faint. My kitchen stank of it.

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Feb-16 16:55:50

Well I'm guessing unless someone is lying on the floor and blowing it directly through the hole, it surely must be fairly faint?

Either way, I'm not sure your LL can be reasonably expected to block the holes around the pipes.

Oldisthenewblack Thu 11-Feb-16 16:55:59

My health is entirely my responsibility. I do not expect others to take responsibility for this. But just like I would expect my property to be sealed against the elements, I would expect it to be adequately sealed from adjoining properties. I do not believe this is unreasonable.

Adeleslostbeehive Thu 11-Feb-16 16:56:48

Landlords aren't responsible for all repairs. The tenant is responsible for some. This would come under the list of repairs you need to pay for unfortunately

Oldisthenewblack Thu 11-Feb-16 16:56:52

Well, thank you, Worra, I'm sure that's exactly what's happening. You clearly have a far better idea of the layout of these flats than I do. Thank you!

Oldisthenewblack Thu 11-Feb-16 16:57:42

Adeleslost - you could be right. Hey ho.

WorraLiberty Thu 11-Feb-16 16:59:37

If you can't remove the back panel yourself, do you know anyone who can?

They might be able to block it with a tube of silicone filler. It costs about £3 from most DIY shops.

Adeleslostbeehive Thu 11-Feb-16 17:01:47

Fakenamefornow- no landlord can stop you smoking in your house. Private landlords might try it on because they know lots of people are not knowledgable and will do what they're told. A Housing association won't bother and can't be seen to lie to its residents either

Oldisthenewblack Thu 11-Feb-16 17:02:10

I will look into it. Fingers crossed he usually smokes in another room!!

BugPlaster Thu 11-Feb-16 17:03:42

And no it shouldn't be your responsibility but it is your health - there are articles online you can show to authorities if you really can't access the gap yourself.

BugPlaster Thu 11-Feb-16 17:06:35

Sorry didn't mean to post twice or sound unsympathetic. I meant you are completely right to feel something needs to be done. It really stressed me out feeling like someone else had control of saying 'it can't be that bad, it doesn't matter that much'z

toastandbutterandjam Thu 11-Feb-16 17:11:11

We had a problem like this.. Not entirely the same though. Our flat is HA but the one next door is private rented. The person who brought it decided to rent it out and our new neighbour was a smoker. He used to smoke outside our house so obviously our house stunk of it (nobody in our house smokes!) and throw the cigarette buds all over the landing.

One day, I went out and when I came home, he had swept ALL the cigarette buds (there were about 70) and put them in a pile outside OUR front door. We called the housing AND spoke to the landlord (due to health issues my Dsis has) and they put a notice up and went and spoke to the tenant directly about it and our neighbour stopped.

Not sure if it helps, but just wanted you to know that you are not alone! I know how you feel. I really hope you get things sorted as soon as possible!

Good luck flowers

Adeleslostbeehive Thu 11-Feb-16 17:15:31

Personally I think if you'd called and said there is a funny smell coming from my sink, got them to send someone out then showed that person the gap they probably would've fixed it. But the gap is always been there, so they don't need to "repair" it. When you complain send in a picture of the gap. It's only a small repair they might do it to save the complaint

Oldisthenewblack Thu 11-Feb-16 17:19:07

toastandbutter - thank you, it does help to know I'm not the only one. I was left feeling very patronised after the call to the landlord and yet, my home is being invaded by this foul smell that can affect anyone's health adversely! And despite what Worra assumed (thereby minimising the issue, exactly as the landlord did!) the smell permeates my kitchen and then proceeds to enter the rest of my flat when the door is opened.

I'm sorry to hear about the problems you experienced, but very glad to hear that you managed to get it sorted out satisfactorily! Can't believe the cheek of your neighbour, doing that!

MsJamieFraser Thu 11-Feb-16 17:26:00

You need to sort the issue out yourself, its not a repair.

toastandbutterandjam Thu 11-Feb-16 17:27:00

I know what you mean. It took a while for the HA and landlord to take action, but eventually they did. They did keep trying to brush it off, but they did after we said we would complaingrin

Yeah, we couldn't have any windows open or anything (summer was a nightmare) because the smell was dreadful!

Fingers crossed yours gets sorted real soon x

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