Help! Smoking Dilemma Dividing the
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Q: I am a smoker and am pretty happy that we have a lovely patio in our new condo to enjoy a ciggy on at night or over some wine when friends come visit. A short while ago I was told by an unassuming neighbor in our other building (there are three in total) that there was a problem with a homeowner smoking on their balcony and a prickly neighbor four units away wrote a scathing letter to the HOA that resulted in a cease and desist notice being sent to the offending smoker. Needless to say, the complaining owner later profusely apologized that the HOA had escalated the whole thing and they made up. The smoker is too terrified to light up in the balcony regardless. Personally, I would not have accepted an overblown threat over a pack of Marlboros, but now it seems that I might be finding myself in a similar situation. Our next-door neighbors have passively made remarks to some other neighbors about smoke wafting into their unit.

As far as it stands right now, smoking is indeed permitted on each unit's balcony, but of course if something is labeled a nuisance, it's a free pass to lay the much dreaded HOA smackdown. I should point out that I have not heard from these neighbors directly.

Personally, I am not a complainer and I realize that whether one owns or is renting, living around other people involves various nuisances. I can honestly say that since living in the East Bay I have lived around neighbors that smoked cigarettes or even pot, had loud children or infants, and obviously dogs.

Our neighbors, for instance, have a loud dog that barks at all hours of the day or night. We were awoken by the dog the other night at 3 am, and it did not stop for two hours. I understand that dogs bark and if I tolerate noises and such from other people, it's hard to believe that my cigarette really creates that much of a tragedy in their lives. Do you have any suggestions for dealing with complaining neighbors? Am I totally in the wrong here?

Sent by Sandy

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Regina is an architect who lives with her husband and son in Lawrence, KS. As a LEED Accredited Professional and longtime contributor to Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn, her focus is on healthy, sustainable living through design.

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