My rights to peaceful enjoyment of a SMOKE FREE apartment?

My downstairs neighbours are HEAVY smokers. The smoke comes up through the walls and floors to my apartment above them and gets so thick my eyes, nose and throat burn from it. It is so thick in my bathroom most days that I can't even shower because I can't be in there for more than a few seconds without feeling ill. I have written them a letter, and also spoken to them in person. They said they'd stop, but they haven't. I have tried to contact my landlord, but he is a bit of a slum lord and avoids me and never responds to me. I can't move because this is the only place that I can afford, I have looked and looked for another place. WHAT CAN I DO??? I feel sick on a daily basis from the smoke. What are my rights?

Redmond, WA -

Attorney Answers (2)

Elizabeth Rankin Powell

Elizabeth Rankin Powell

Landlord / Tenant Lawyer - Tacoma, WA
Answered

You have a right to quietly enjoy your home without intrusion of other person's fumes. If this is happening anyway, you need to tell your landlord in writing. Send a copy first-class mail and a copy certified return receipt mail so you can prove you sent it. Wait 10 days. If your landlord continues to do nothing, then move out. See RCW 59 18 090. If you decide to quit paying rent for any reason whatsoever, you are likely to get evicted, so do not do that. Elizabeth Powell

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Shawn B Alexander

Shawn B Alexander

Real Estate Attorney - Olga, WA
Answered

I agree with Ms. Powell on all aspects. One thing to try would be positive air pressure. Use a fan to force fresh air into you unit and then seal as much of the apartment as possible. Then the smoke will be forced by the pressure away from your unit. This sounds hard but is not. Most exhaust fans will draw air out of the unit creating negative pressure, that may be why you bathroom is the worst, ( or the vents are connected). So, if you turn on an exhaust fan make sure the air is drawn from outside and not below, by opening a window. The rest of the time a fan blowing into the unit should slow the smoke infiltration.
Good Luck

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