Marijuana in a Co-op Apartment

August 14, 2017 | By Charles Botensten

Q. I am an associate real estate broker and represented a co-op purchaser who recently complained to me about the smell of marijuana in his apartment.  According to my purchaser, one shareholder on his floor smokes an excessive amount of marijuana.  The shareholder’s conduct is causing smoke and odors to permeate into my purchaser’s apartment.  Is there anything that my purchaser can do?

A. Your purchaser should consider writing a letter to the board of directors of the co-op (the “Board”) explaining the situation and requesting their assistance in resolving the problem.  Generally, the co-op’s proprietary lease and/or house rules (the “Rules”) will contain a provision prohibiting a shareholder from permitting “unreasonable odors” to escape into the building.  Moreover, the Rules will typically state that a shareholder cannot do anything which will interfere with the rights, comfort or convenience of other shareholders.  Lastly, there will likely be a provision in the Rules stating that the shareholder’s proprietary lease can be terminated if the shareholder engages in “objectionable conduct.” Therefore, the Board could elect to enforce its rights pursuant to the Rules as a result of the shareholder’s conduct.  If the Board is not responsive to the purchaser or is otherwise unsuccessful in remedying the condition, then the purchaser should contact an attorney.