Dear Fair Housing Lady: Cooking Odors?

March 8, 2011 | 8 Comments

Dear Fair Housing Lady:

While we welcome folks from all over the world to be residents at our community, what can we do when some of them cook with curry (or other things that I don’t even want to think about)?  Quite frankly, sometimes it smells bad and then their neighbors complain to us in the office.  And it costs a lot to deal with the odor on move out – can we charge for those costs?   

Sincerely,

E.E.W.

Dear E.E.W.:

First things first.  Please take the expression “smells bad” out of your vocabulary.  You (or your residents) may not like a particular cooking odor, but that is subjective.  Do you really think that millions of people wake up each morning thinking, “Dang, my cooking smells bad, I wish I didn’t have to cook the way I do”?  Of course not; cooking aromas are a part of one’s culture and traditions.  Now, end of lecture and to continue…

What do you do when a resident complains about a neighbor’s cooking odors?  You handle this exactly as you would handle that neighbor’s complaint if it were about cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, pipe smoke, too much Lysol®, too much perfume, garlic or burned Toll House cookies.  No resident has the right to allow their odors, whatever they may be, to intrude into other apartments or the common areas.  It is a lease violation.  Deal with it accordingly, as an “odor”, and keep in mind that who the resident is, where they come from, how they worship, their race, color, or familial status has nothing to do with this.  Just be sure that you can always demonstrate that you have a consistent process for all odor-related issues.

And what about the turnkey for a cooking odor-infused apartment?  You handle this exactly as you would handle left behind odors from cigarette smoke, cigar smoke, pipe smoke, too much Lysol®, too much perfume, garlic or burned Toll House cookies.  If you charge to remedy those odors, you can charge to remedy cooking odors.

Simply put, it is not about the type of odor or the resident, it is about “an odor”.  Handle it correctly and don’t cause a stink…

Sincerely sweet smelling (I think!),

Your DFHL

Fair Housing Lady is the alter-ego of Nadeen Green, Senior Counsel with For Rent Media SolutionsTM.  While that makes her our attorney, she is not yours, so her information is not legal advice for you.  She would love to have your questions for future newsletter appearances (so she doesn’t have to make the questions up, which is just extra work), so send them to Nadeen.Green@ForRent.com.

Read more from Nadeen

Category: General Information, Property Managers & Owners