Can you smoke inside your own condo or apartment?

(WSVN) - Do you have the right to smoke in your own condo or apartment? And do you have any rights if your neighbor is a smoker and you can smell the smoke in your home? It’s a question one woman has brought to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Sharon Karle is a smoker.

Sharon Karle, smokes in her condo: “I am sadly, and I have been for a very long time.”

Why do you say sadly?

Sharon Karle: “Like every other smoker, I am well aware of the detrimental effects on your health, your longevity, obviously there is an odor to it.”

The good news for Sharon is that she can smoke on the job because she works from her condo.

Sharon Karle: “I have a wonderful employer. I am not micromanaged. We don’t have meetings just to have meetings.”

For 12 years, there were no problems as Sharon did her job, occasionally lighting a cigarette and then this summer she got a knock on her door.

Sharon Karle: “There was a very nice couple standing outside. ‘We believe you are a smoker, and we think the cigarette smoke is coming into one of the bedrooms in our unit.'”

The complaint bothered Sharon because she considers herself a considerate smoker and didn’t want to bother someone else.

Sharon Karle: “I wouldn’t dream of having a cigarette in front of you because I don’t know if you smoke or not.”

Sharon never smokes outside and keeps her doors closed.

Sharon Karle: “And frankly Patrick, I am not sure how it’s seeping into their unit. The reason I saw that is that my air conditioning ducts are not in any way connected to theirs.”

There don’t appear to be any openings in the walls to let the smoke leak through, but to be safe, Sharon called her landlord.

Sharon Karle: “He said, ‘Sharon I am never going to ask you to leave. This is your home, we know you take care of the property. Don’t worry about this, we are going to find a way to resolve this. You don’t have to worry.'”

Sharon then started spending her own money, $1,600, and bought two air purifiers, had the ducts cleaned and installed a device on the air handler even though it’s in the hallway and not near her neighbor.

Sharon Karle: “It’s a home-sized air purifier. That is now fixed directly to the A.C. unit that’s in the hallway closet.”

Her neighbors are part-time residents and Sharon hasn’t seen them in a couple of months, but they had not forgotten about her and had an attorney send the condo manager a letter.

Sharon Karle: “The condominium attorney responded on their behalf and explained in their view this was a conflict between residents. This has nothing to do with the association.”

Sharon feels she has done all she can do.

Sharon Karle: “It sounds to me like you really want to make them happy, I do. I want everyone to enjoy living in their home. It’s a great place ot live and I don’t want somebody constantly unhappy with me.”

Well Howard, that old saying of your home is your castle … does that mean you can also smoke in your home?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes, you can. There is no binding law that would prohibit Sharon or anyone else from smoking in their home if the property allows it. There is a Broward case where a judge blocked someone from smoking because it was excessive, but that ruling only applied in that courtroom and no where else, so if Sharon wants to smoke in her condo, she can.”

I contacted the property management at Parc Central South, but they said they could not comment on the smoking issue.

The owner of the unit next to Sharon put the condo in a corporate name and we could not locate him.

In the meantime, Sharon has also had weather stripping installed around the door frame in one more step to try to make her neighbors happy since she legally can continue to smoke in her condo.

Sharon Karle: “I am very relieved. I am very relieved.”

Relieved she can still smoke as she works from home, and convinced she has done everything she can to keep the smoke in her condo.

Sharon Karle: “‘Cause I really enjoy living in my home. I just want to keep living in peace and I am going to keep doing what I can to be a good neighbor. And I hope my other neighbors will feel the same way and understand my position.”

Smoking is a real balance of rights. Your right to smoke, your neighbor’s right to not smell or breathe that smoke. It’s a legal issue and a personal one that really polarizes people. At least Sharon is doing her best to keep the smoke in her condo.

Getting smoked trying to solve a problem. Just exhale and let us clear the air ’cause we will light up when we get a chance to help you.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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