Wednesday, April 19, 2006
Help Me Howard: Smelly Condo
It's something we all take for granted: a breath of fresh air. But what would you do if every time you stepped into your home the smell made you sick? Is there anything you can do? I mean are you legally entitled to odorless air? One South Florida woman wants to know so she called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser for the answer.
WSVN--When Hurricane Wilma hit, the smart people got out of town till things got back to normal.
Andrea Nugent went on vacation for a few days, and when she returned she was greeted by a strange smell.
Andrea Nugent: "At first it smelled like a dead animal. At first I was worried my neighbor had left and the animal died while he was away."
Inside Andrea's apartment it was even worse. And she could not figure out what was causing it.
Andrea Nugent: "So when they came around to check the damages on the unit I let them know there was an odor in the apartment."
The maintenance people knocked on the condo next door and discovered her neighbor was dead.
Andrea Nugent: "For about the first week after it happened crime scene was constantly in and out."
The crime scene crew left the smell lingered...
Andrea Nugent: "I couldn't stop coughing and choking. My sinuses were clogged. I had a sinus headache for three days."
Since Andrea works out of her home, she could not leave. So she tried everything, from scented candles, to plugins, to air purifiers, to opening her windows.
Andrea Nugent: "There's some days if its hot out -- really hot outside and no breeze blowing -- it's not a pleasant day for me to be in here."
But no matter what she did, that leftover odor overrode it all.
Andrea Nugent: "People that come to visit, they don't want to stay more than five minutes. When they come in they say, 'What's going on in here?'"
Andrea says she would complain but she has no idea who her late neighbor left her condo to.
Andrea Nugent: "He didn't have relatives and no-one has come to clean up the unit at all ."
So she did what everyone in a stinky mess should do.
Andrea Nugent: "I emailed Help Me Howard and I got a response within 20 minutes. So I feel important right now."
Well, that's refreshing. So, Howard, how can Andrea get a breath of fresh air?
Howard Finkelstein: "This is what's called a 'sanitary nuisance' and the law demands it be cleared up. So when the condo owner died the condo association had the duty to either clean it up and bill the estate, or, get in touch with the dead man's heir and let them pay to clean it up."
And after we made one phone call to the right person, the condo was sanitizied.
I first spoke to a condo association member who told me the unit had already been cleaned once.
They then called the attorney representing the dead mans estate which brought in a biohazard clean up company.
That cleared the air.
Its now been taken care of. As for all other odors, some are legal, and some are not.
Howard Finkelstein: "Not all odors are illegal. For example, someone smoking a cigarette on their balcony is not a violation. But a neighbor who smokes cigars continuously or burns incense or doesn't clean up after their pets may, may not go over the line. Complain to code enforcement and let them determine if it' a violation."
Andrea says her condo once again smells great. She is happy, although she won't soon forget that odor.
Andrea Nugent: "It smells like rotten garbage, dead animals. Everything just rolled up into one. It's the worst smell I have ever smelled in my life."
Patrick Fraser: "If you live in a condo or an apartment, before you call code enforcement, contact your landlord or condo board. They have the power to force someone to clear the air. And by the way in case you are curious, Andrea's neighbor didn't die of old age. It was an accidental drug overdose."
A stiffling problem got you holding your nos? Want someone to freshen up the place? Contact us. Our legal solutions are effervescent. Of course, you have never seen us when we effer-wasn't.
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