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Changing Rules for Smokers in Community Associations

Posted by Jane F. Bolin, Esq. | Sep 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

While you likely have rules in place regarding smoking, what do you do when issues arise regarding second hand smoke?

Smoking has received a lot of attention in recent years as a bad and unhealthy habit, but research about the impact of secondhand smoke has reignited the conversation about whether smoke belongs in community associations at all.

While it might seem discriminating to have strict no-smoking rules, which will exclude individuals who do smoke from owning a unit, it can also be a way for a board to avoid conflict and costs associated with a nuisance complaint.

Where to draw the line

What is most problematic for community associations is drawing the line on secondhand smoke. What one neighbor considers a respectful way to carry out his or her habit could prove to be a big issue for another individual who has asthma or children, for example.

When the issue escalates and the neighbors are unable to resolve it on their own, the board has to take a stand and determine the most appropriate way to end the conflict. How an initial dispute like this is handled by the community association board also sets a precedent for future concerns, too.

Secondhand smoke as a nuisance

One way that associations are dealing with the issue of secondhand smoke in their communities is by clearly defining secondhand smoke as a nuisance in the government document. Local and state governments have taken this step in some places around the country, making it easier for community associations to deal with the problem effectively.

Determining that secondhand smoke can be a nuisance has the potential to lead to conflicts between the board and owners as well as individual unit owners. Deciding to take a stand, however, can clearly draw a line and help to provide some groundwork about how conflicts of this type will be handled.

The fact that smoking is in the news and in the public conversation so much lately is a clear sign that your board should be proactive about developing a policy on secondhand smoke and other guidelines related to unit owners who engage in this habit.

For legal questions or assistance when establishing rules regarding smoking in your community, contact the real estate and association attorneys at PeytonBolin.

About the Author

Jane F. Bolin, Esq.

Founding Member, Managing Partner


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