HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A Henrico mom reached out to 8News because she claims living next door to a heavy smoker is hurting her child’s health. She claims management at her apartment complex isn’t doing enough and her family is suffering.
“Every time that he, the neighbor, lights up a cigarette, you can smell it like he is in your apartment,” said Jessica Cleaver.
“Every time that he, the neighbor, lights up a cigarette, you can smell it like he is in your apartment.”
Jessica Cleaver moved into her town home at Gayton Pointe in Henrico just over a month ago and had no idea she was moving into a complex that allowed smoking inside the units.
“If I had known that was allowed here, I would have never moved here,” said Cleaver.
She said she understands she can’t ask her neighbor to quit smoking. So she purchased an air purifier, but it didn’t help.
Her children’s doctor said the smoke is what’s causing her kids to be sick.
When she told management, they said they could transfer her to another unit, but at her own cost.
“They’ve also said that we’d have to pay rent for both apartments while we’re moving,” said Cleaver. “They said we could take as long as we wanted to in the moving process but we’d have to pay rent on two apartments at the same time.”
Cleaver also claims the apartment they were offered doesn’t have the same upgrades as their current home, but would cost the same.
8 News reached out to management for a comment, but we were told to reach out to the corporate office which has not returned our calls.
Martin Wegbreit with Central Virginia Legal Aide said Virginia law requires landlords to do all that is necessary to keep homes in a “fit and habitable condition.”
“If the landlord concedes that the premise are not fit and habitable then it is the landlord duty to make a remedy and it is not the tenants’ duty to have to pay any extra costs for that,” explained Wegbreit.
And in this case, Wegbreit said that means being accommodating to both the cleaver family and their neighbor who smokes.
“The landlord has to try to assure that both tenants have the rights that they are allowed by law,” said Wegbreit. “You can’t just say that one right triumphs over another right.”
Wegbriet said the most important thing for tenants to do is to submit a complaint in writing to the landlord.
That letter needs to be dated and then they should save a copy for themselves just in case it has to be brought before a judge.