My Neighbors' Smells Are Entering My Apartment. What Can I Do?

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante
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It can be quite hard to share walls and floors with neighbors who have bad habits. Everything from loud music and barking dogs to foul smells can make home life uncomfortable. So, what can you do if your neighbors' smells are entering your apartment?

Let your neighbors know that bad smells enter your apartment from theirs. Talk to your landlord about the problem if your neighbors don’t do anything to get rid of the odors. In some cases, the smells could be due to mold and dirty air ducts in the ceiling between your apartments.

Double-check your plumbing fixtures and HVAC system to make sure the bad smell isn’t coming from your apartment. It can be hard to track bad smells in your apartment, and it may not come from your neighbors. Follow along as we explore what to do about bad smells entering your apartment from your neighbors.

Can My Neighbors' Odors Enter My Apartment?

The odors in your neighbors's apartment can enter your apartment. This is especially common in duplexes and apartment complexes with shared walls, floors, and ceilings. For example, you may smell your neighbor cooking an aromatic meal.

The smells can easily travel between the shared ventilation system in your apartments. This can also happen if you have poor insulation and thin walls. It’s especially common if your neighbors turn on their stove vent while they cook.

People often complain about their neighbors smoking and making their apartments smell bad. Not only is it inconvenient, but it can make you feel uncomfortable at home. Other smells, like mold, excessive garbage, and pet odors can also enter your apartment.

What To Do If Your Neighbor Makes Your Apartment Smell Bad

The situation isn't hopeless if bad smells consistently enter your apartment from your neighbors. This isn’t nearly as serious a problem as it may seem in many cases, and the fixes are often simple. So, what can you do if your neighbor makes your apartment smell bad?

1. Talk About It

Talk to your neighbors if your apartment consistently smells bad because of them. There is a strong chance that they don’t even know about the smells. Be as polite as possible because they may feel embarrassed when they find out about it.

You can also write a note if you don’t want to hurt your neighbors' feelings. That said, your goal should be to get them to at least acknowledge and adjust the situation. For example, they may start to take the trash out on time.

Highlight specific odors that you smell to make sure they address each problem accordingly. If they fail to change their behavior, it could simply be because of thin walls and poor ventilation. Otherwise, it could indicate that the smells are coming from your apartment and not theirs.

2. Speak To Your Landlord

Do you smell odors from your neighbors that aren’t allowed at your apartment building? If so, you should speak to your landlord about the situation. Smoking indoors is rarely allowed in modern apartment buildings.

Tell your landlord if you continue to smell smoke after you speak to your neighbors about it. Otherwise, you can simply talk to your landlord first if you are uncomfortable with the situation. Tobacco smoke and illegal substances that seep into your apartment from your neighbors are dangerous.

Your landlord may warn or penalize your neighbor. Luckily, that should be enough to make the problem stop. You can also tell your landlord that you have bad ventilation because you smell everything from a neighbor’s apartment. In that case, they may simply improve your apartment’s ventilation, and that’s the best-case scenario.

3. Mask The Smell

In some cases, there’s nothing you can do besides mask the bad smell that comes from your neighbors. Some apartments simply have poor ventilation and walls that are too thin. In that case, you may simply have to mask the smell with candles and other remedies.

Essential oils, incense, candles, and air purifiers can help get rid of bad smells. Granted, the smells will persist, but you won’t notice them as much. Air purifiers are the best option if you want to clean the air in your apartment.

Candles and diffusers make your apartment smell good, but the bad smell from your neighbors will eventually return. Even still, that’s better than nothing if you can’t stand the smell of your neighbors' food and garbage.

4. Install Weatherstripping

Install weatherstripping if the bad smells from your neighbors keep entering your apartment. This won’t solve the smells that come through the vents, but it will help with outside odors. For example, you won’t smell the cigarettes they smoke on the balcony or the trash they leave out.

You can easily put weatherstripping at the base of each entrance door at your apartment. The weatherstripping will also help reduce outside noise and keep your apartment quieter. Weatherstripping also helps keep bugs and mice out of your apartment.

5. Make A Civil Complaint

Do you own your apartment? If so, there’s no reason your neighbors' smells should keep entering your apartment. Simple conversations don’t always work, and your neighbors may not curb their behavior.

In that case, you can make a civil complaint against your neighbors. Granted, you should only do this if the smells are foul and never get any better. Simply call the police non-emergency line to make a civil complaint.

Your neighbors won’t likely get in any legal trouble, so you don’t have to worry about that. However, the police may at least warn your neighbors if they feel it’s worth their time.

What To Do If Your Neighbors Say Your Apartment Smells Bad

The bad odors you smell may be coming from your apartment and you just don’t know it. You can tell that it’s likely your fault if your neighbors mention it. Everything from a clogged disposal to dirty air ducts can make your apartment smell bad.

In some cases, this can be a shared problem between you and your neighbors. For example, there could be mold or dead pests in the shared ceiling in a duplex. Both you and your neighbors would notice the odors.

Contact your landlord in that case because it’s likely a problem that requires professional help. Your landlord’s maintenance team may need to check the HVAC system and plumbing fixtures. You would be surprised how even a faulty washing machine connection can make your apartment smell bad.

Summing It Up

Talk to your neighbors if their smells keep entering your apartment. Let your landlord know about the problem if your neighbors don’t do anything to fix the problem. In the meantime, simply use candles and air purifiers to mask the problem until your neighbors change their habits.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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