HOAs and Smoking Policies

shutterstock_400183681Smoking may not be as popular as it used to be, but some people still choose to do so, which is their right. However, it is also the right of every non-smoker to be safe from second-hand smoke. This has made smoking a hot topic in HOAs, so check out everything you need to know about smoking and HOAs.

Current Rules Regarding Smoking

It’s not uncommon for HOAs to have some rules regarding smoking. Typically, there is no smoking in common areas, such as clubhouses, hallways, etc. This is designed to help protect non-smokers from second hand smoke. In some cases, the board can also prohibit smoking in semi-private areas. For example, if your patio is right next to someone else’s, your smoking may still annoy them. Therefore, many HOAs only allow smoking in completely private areas.

Heritage Hills Condominium Owners Association

Heritage Hills Condominium Owners Association is a four-unit community in Colorado. Some tenants began complaining to the association, claiming that smoke from the neighbor’s unit was seeping into their unit. Normally, people have the right to smoke in their own dwelling; however, because the smoke was bothering the neighbors, the association prohibited smoking completely, even in private areas. The Colorado District Court upheld the decision.

Possible Changes

This decision may seem like a precedent, but the significance is a little limited. While it is a big step to protect non-smokers, it was also a very specific case. First, the building is a multi-unit dwelling, not single, detached homes. Second, the non-smoking tenants tried a lot to stop the smoke, such as caulking. Last, the condominium was extremely small and old. Therefore, while the decision is an important one, it is also not something that will make changes throughout the nation.

What HOAs Should Do

If your association decides to allow smoking in private areas, it is best to take complaints of second-hand smoke seriously. When complaints do arise, try to ease the situation by coming up with ways to stop the flow of smoke, such as re-routing ductwork or installing air purification systems. Of course, the board will need to decide where the money should come from. If your association decides to ban smoking in dwellings, make sure to amend your declaration instead of making up a new rule. Because amendments are harder to change, you’ll be sure more people will be happy with the results.

People who don’t smoke shouldn’t have to get assaulted by second-hand smoke. Do the best you can to please everyone in your community, so problems don’t escalate to the courts.

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