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Do I have a right to withhold rent due to a smoker in the building that has made me sick?

Boston, MA |
Filed under: Tenant rights

I have lived in a small apartment building for nearly two years. One of the tenants is a heavy smoker, every couple weeks or so he smokes cigars. I live on the top floor and all the smoke wafts up to my apartment. I have complained numerous times since moving in. A month ago I got a cold, which turned into bronchitis. The day after one of his cigar binges I developed a secondary infection to my bronchitis and got very sick again. I notified management and have been trying to leave my lease early. I was unable to secure a new place before my lease expires so will have to remain here for the next two months. I requested my final month rent be reduced if smoking occurred again and was refused. Landlord stated he has a right to smoke, however I feel I have a right to live in a healthy space.

Attorney Answers 1


If this smoking is adversely affecting your health and well being you may have a right to withhold rent. To withhold rent though you must follow certain precise procedures. I would recommend consulting an attorney as to how to go about withholding rent.

The foregoing answer does not establish an attorney client relationship, is not confidential, and should not be relied upon in place of an actual consultation with an attorney. Attorney Samiotes is licensed to practice in Massachusetts, the Federal District Court of Massachusetts, and the Court of International Trade. Most initial consultations are free. Further information is available on my profile and at

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