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Old 10-22-2013, 08:29 PM
 
2 posts, read 92,527 times
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I live in Iowa, in a non-smoking apartment building that allows cats. I had two of them, one was using the carpet as a litterbox, so I gave her to a family member. I plan to have the carpets professionally cleaned, but in the meantime I've been burning incense to mask the smell.

My landlord is pretty invasive/present on the property and tells me from time to time that I can't do this or that, can't open my windows because of heating, can't chain my bike to the fence, etc. He came into my apartment to remove my AC for the season. I lit incense in several rooms before I left because I didn't want him to notice that my cat had urinated on the carpet. Later in the day he sent me a text message telling me that 3 sticks of unattended incense was a "fire hazard" and a violation of the non-smoking policy. I saw that he had extinguished the sticks I had burning.

I said that I could understand the fire concern or the quantity of incense smoke if it was bothering neighbors, but that burning a single stick at a time didn't constitute "smoking". His response was that because 3 sticks at a time was "so over the top, I have to say NO more" and that "next time I'll have to be ultra specific in the lease about what non-smoking means".

I don't believe my landlord has a right to tell me that I can't burn a stick of incense in my apartment, that I pay him money to live in. The lease says nothing about incense, and it seems to me that he's just making up rules as he goes along even though he has no legal backing for them.

Advice?
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Old 10-22-2013, 08:35 PM
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
31,168 posts, read 67,984,889 times
Reputation: 36999
Quote:
Originally Posted by dot1mouse View Post
I don't believe my landlord has a right to... Advice?
Don't guess. Find out EXACTLY what rights he does have and what rights YOU have.

Iowa Legal Aid

and a BUNCH more here
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:02 PM
 
Location: Silicon Valley
18,666 posts, read 25,847,979 times
Reputation: 37427
I'd have to say this time that I agree with your landlord. Leaving unattended burning incense was really irresponsible of you. And incense does create smoke. And three burning incense sticks is over the top.

The LL is covering his butt regarding liability. He's now put you on notice that this is dangerous and unacceptable. If you were to cause a fire, especially after he told you not to do this, he is less likely to be found liable.

Also, smoking is against the rules. Burning incense creates smoke. He's put you on notice that your use of incense is excessive, and if you continue, it could be viewed as violating your lease, and he could evict you.

I'm afraid I really have to side with your landlord on this one. You got a cat that ruined the carpet and possibly even the floors, and your landlord doesn't even know about that yet. Then, you left burning incense - 3 sticks of it - unattended, which also creates smoke, which isn't allowed.

I don't see you as a victim here. Your landlord sounds a bit invasive, but it looks like he has good reason to be concerned about your tenancy.
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Old 10-22-2013, 09:08 PM
 
1,263 posts, read 2,925,685 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dot1mouse View Post
I live in Iowa, in a non-smoking apartment building {snip}

...Later in the day he sent me a text message telling me that 3 sticks of unattended incense was a "fire hazard" and a violation of the non-smoking policy. I saw that he had extinguished the sticks I had burning.
{snip}

Advice?
Non-smoking sections of leases often include incense, but even if yours doesn't he might be able make the argument that incense is "smoking"; it intentionally produces smoke. It's also optional behavior - you're not accidentally producing smoke by cooking, you're intentionally filling your unit with smelly smoke.

Incense smell can sink into the drywall, carpets, etc just like cigarette smoke. People who don't want 2nd hand smoke for health reasons usually also object to incense burning because it's carcinogenic just like cigarettes. Many of your neighbors probably chose a non-smoking apartment building for this reason.

In fact, incense actually puts more "particulates" into the air than standard cigarettes - that's what you're smelling. That's why you're burning it, for smelly smoke!

Sorry your cat is badly housebroken, but that's not reason to smoke up a non-smoking building. So my advice is: stop it!

As I'm sure you've realized, leaving 3 burning incense sticks when you leave the apartment is creating a fire hazard. It's not very responsible of you, especially because your cat would be the first to die from smoke inhalation in the event of a fire.

Last edited by LOL_Whut; 10-22-2013 at 09:11 PM.. Reason: edit
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Old 10-22-2013, 10:16 PM
 
2 posts, read 92,527 times
Reputation: 11
I'm not claiming that it's a good idea to leave 3 sticks of incense burning unattended. I'm saying that if I'm in my apartment and I burn one stick of incense, he shouldn't have the right to tell me that I can't as long as I'm not doing it in a way that's dangerous or excessive.
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Old 10-22-2013, 11:01 PM
 
10,881 posts, read 14,562,041 times
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Leaving unattended burning incense is a violation of Iowa 562A under tenant's responsibilities as it can create a safety hazard to the property and other tenants. On that issue, you are in the wrong.

On the issue of burning incense while you are present, if your place is covered by Iowa Code 142D, or the landlord is attempting to use the smoke free act as the basis, incense is excluded from the definition of "smoking". So, you need to read you lease and see what it says.

The last issue is many municipalities have the right to establish individual local codes, laws and regulations regarding rentals. So you also have to know if the violation is based on local law, not state law.
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Old 10-23-2013, 02:53 AM
 
Location: In the gawdforsaken desert
6,454 posts, read 7,624,816 times
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Actually burning incense may violate a no smoking policy, since it creates smoke and can irritate nearby non-smokers who may live in a non-smoking building for a reason. Thanks for this thread because I'm going to modify my lease to specifically include incense.

And burning incense to cover up damage your pet caused to the apartment is typical, and totally irresponsible.

That said, when I rented an apartment for several years, a few years ago, I occasionally burned incense because every so often I enjoy the smell. So I can't totally fault you. In fact I think I'm going to go light one now.
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Old 10-23-2013, 03:02 AM
 
9,589 posts, read 21,226,850 times
Reputation: 13167
I'm amused that you think burning incense is really 'masking' your **** smell. Instead of creating a fire hazard, why dont' you fess up to your landlord that the cat damaged the carpet and get it taken of? Cat **** is corrosive and the longer it sits, the worse it gets.


Oh, and stop leaving lit incense burning in your unit.
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Old 10-23-2013, 03:53 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 62,108,651 times
Reputation: 26588
Advice? Have the carpet professionally cleaned. Now. If you've already left it uncleaned for some time there's every likelihood you're going to end up paying for replacement carpeting anyway and treatment of the underlying floor. Why you'd even think of just masking the odor until the end of your tenancy is beyond me.
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Old 10-23-2013, 04:45 AM
 
1,263 posts, read 2,925,685 times
Reputation: 1887
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kim in FL View Post
I'm amused that you think burning incense is really 'masking' your **** smell. Instead of creating a fire hazard, why dont' you fess up to your landlord that the cat damaged the carpet and get it taken of? Cat **** is corrosive and the longer it sits, the worse it gets.


Oh, and stop leaving lit incense burning in your unit.
That's the other thing. Unless your landlord is unbelievably naive, he knows you're trying to cover up stink with the smoke. You're not fooling him.

I'd choose my battles carefully here. If you insist on burning incense after he told you not too, he'll probably be a lot harder on you about the carpet and cat problems. He could even claim that your incense smell sunk into the walls and ceilings enough that they all need to be sanded, primed and repainted to get back to the original "non-smoking building" lack of smoke smell. That could get expensive.
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