Article Courtesy of Channel 7 News Miami
By Patrick Fraser
Published January 2, 2019
Do you have the right to smoke in your own condo or apartment? And do you
have any rights if your neighbor is a smoker and you can smell the smoke in
your home? It’s a question one woman has brought to Help Me Howard with
Sharon Karle is a smoker.
Sharon Karle, smokes in her condo: “I am sadly, and I have been for a very
Why do you say sadly?
Sharon Karle: “Like every other smoker, I am well aware of the detrimental
effects on your health, your longevity, obviously there is an odor to it.”
The good news for Sharon is that she can smoke on the job because she works
from her condo.
Sharon Karle: “I have a wonderful employer. I am not micromanaged. We don’t
have meetings just to have meetings.”
For 12 years, there were no problems as Sharon did her job, occasionally
lighting a cigarette and then this summer she got a knock on her door.
Sharon Karle: “There was a very nice couple standing outside. ‘We believe
you are a smoker, and we think the cigarette smoke is coming into one of the
bedrooms in our unit.'”
The complaint bothered Sharon because she considers herself a considerate
smoker and didn’t want to bother someone else.
Sharon Karle: “I wouldn’t dream of having a cigarette in front of you
because I don’t know if you smoke or not.”
Sharon never smokes outside and keeps her doors closed.
Sharon Karle: “And frankly Patrick, I am not sure how it’s seeping into
their unit. The reason I saw that is that my air conditioning ducts are not
in any way connected to theirs.”
There don’t appear to be any openings in the walls to let the smoke leak
through, but to be safe, Sharon called her landlord.
Sharon Karle: “He said, ‘Sharon I am never going to ask you to leave. This
is your home, we know you take care of the property. Don’t worry about this,
we are going to find a way to resolve this. You don’t have to worry.'”
Sharon then started spending her own money, $1,600, and bought two air
purifiers, had the ducts cleaned and installed a device on the air handler
even though it’s in the hallway and not near her neighbor.
Sharon Karle: “It’s a home-sized air purifier. That is now fixed directly to
the A.C. unit that’s in the hallway closet.”
Her neighbors are part-time residents and Sharon hasn’t seen them in a
couple of months, but they had not forgotten about her and had an attorney
send the condo manager a letter.
Sharon Karle: “The condominium attorney responded on their behalf and
explained in their view this was a conflict between residents. This has
nothing to do with the association.”
Sharon feels she has done all she can do.
Sharon Karle: “It sounds to me like you really want to make them happy, I
do. I want everyone to enjoy living in their home. It’s a great place ot
live and I don’t want somebody constantly unhappy with me.”
Well Howard, that old saying of your home is your castle … does that mean
you can also smoke in your home?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Yes, you can. There is no binding
law that would prohibit Sharon or anyone else from smoking in their home if
the property allows it. There is a Broward case where a judge blocked
someone from smoking because it was excessive, but that ruling only applied
in that courtroom and no where else, so if Sharon wants to smoke in her
condo, she can.”
I contacted the property management at Parc Central South, but they said
they could not comment on the smoking issue.
The owner of the unit next to Sharon put the condo in a corporate name and
we could not locate him.
In the meantime, Sharon has also had weather stripping installed around the
door frame in one more step to try to make her neighbors happy since she
legally can continue to smoke in her condo.
Sharon Karle: “I am very relieved. I am very relieved.”
Relieved she can still smoke as she works from home, and convinced she has
done everything she can to keep the smoke in her condo.
Sharon Karle: “‘Cause I really enjoy living in my home. I just want to keep
living in peace and I am going to keep doing what I can to be a good
neighbor. And I hope my other neighbors will feel the same way and
understand my position.”
Smoking is a real balance of rights. Your right to smoke, your neighbor’s
right to not smell or breathe that smoke. It’s a legal issue and a personal
one that really polarizes people. At least Sharon is doing her best to keep
the smoke in her condo.
Getting smoked trying to solve a problem. Just exhale and let us clear the
air ’cause we will light up when we get a chance to help you.