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Real Estate - Cigarette Smoke from Neighbors, Debate Continues
Hi Edith: We were having a discussion about the definition of "abstract of title." I pulled out your book "Modern Real Estate Practice in New York" for the answer. End of discussion!
Thanks for your continued advice to sellers who think their brother-in-law knows more about pricing than their Realtor! -- B. B.
Answer: This email must have come from a real estate broker. Who else sits around discussing abstracts, remembers that the word "realtor" takes a capital "r" and resents brothers-in-law who claim to know all about market value?
It must be someone who studied for his or her license years ago. The third edition of my book goes all the way back to the 1980s. These days, it is in its 12th edition. Someone else does the updates, but the definition of "abstracts of title" hasn't changed.
Lots of readers wrote in with suggestions for those condo owners whose balcony and apartment interior were spoiled by cigarette smoke from their downstairs neighbors. Some, like K.W., suggested legal measures.
Hot Sauce Problem
Edith: The person who wrote in regarding the secondhand smoke issue at their condo could check out two legal cases, one in California involving a hot sauce manufacturer whose fumes disturbed residents in the area, and the other one involving a crematorium in Houston.
I have no personal knowledge of these, nor do I know how far they went in court, if at all. I just remember they were in the paper. It may set some sort of precedent. In any event, perhaps they will help. -- K. W.
Some lawyers wrote in, too.
Ms. Lank: I wanted to give some direction as the previous president of the College of Community Association Lawyers. When people purchase in a condo or homeowners association, they agree to abide by certain filed property documents, which may well have language prohibiting "nuisances" or "offensive odors." If so, this could help these owners.
The association may have an obligation to assist with the situation. There have been lawsuits involving secondhand smoke in condos, so the owners should contact an attorney who practices community association law. -- J. H. S.
J. H. S. recommended looking on the internet for an experienced attorney.
We also received some self-help suggestions.
Ms. Lank: I would advise them to place some fans at their doorway facing out to blow the cigarette smoke away from their patio, or install an outdoor ceiling fan over the balcony. These are methods we use to keep mosquitoes off our patio, and they should work for smoke.
If permitted, I would suggest also lining the balcony with vine-covered trellises to act as a partial barrier and serve as smoke filters to some extent. Also, soy candles burn clean (without smoke) and can help clear the air of smoke particles. I hope these ideas help. -- C. P.
One other reader sent a short note.
Edith: If the two units are the same size, maybe they could exchange. Since smoke rises, it wouldn't be nearly as big of a problem as it is now if they were to live on the bottom. -- P.
That's the simplest solution yet, and it pretty much wraps up the discussion.
Names on Deed
Hi, Edith: I have a couple of friends whose names are on the deed to their respective houses along with the name of their deceased spouse. Do you think the name of the deceased spouse should be removed before the spouse passes away or after, so the house can be sold without problems? Or should they leave the name on the deed? What if they don't sell the house and they pass away themselves? Will this create problems for the estate?
These are confusing questions, but I really would like to help my friends make the proper decision. -- L. P.
Answer: There's no need for your friends to take any action. When the house is sold eventually, the buyers will have a search made of the public records in any event.
When someone dies, though, no matter how simple the estate, it's always wise to consult a lawyer. That's true even if it's only to learn that nothing needs to be done.
Contact Edith Lank at www.askedith.com, at email@example.com or at 240 Hemingway Drive, Rochester NY 14620.
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