Home Smoking Policies: What do your homeowner association rules say?

Q: Our condo already prohibits any smoking in common areas or on balconies. Now the homeowner association (HOA) is considering demanding that smokers seal/close their air return vents — where smoke can easily pass from one unit to another. Also it may demand that smokers put in an air guard at the bottom of their doors to hold the smoke in the unit. Can they do this?

A: If your question is whether the association can pass a rule requiring unit owners to install filters and other items to control the passage of smoke from one unit to another, as well as seal vents, the answer, generally, is yes.

Can an HOA Restrict Smoking?

A homeowner association board can pass rules regarding the installation of tubs, showers, washing machines and other water fixtures that would require an owner to install additional protections to keep water from dripping onto a neighbor below. Likewise, they can pass rules regarding noise. Some associations require owners to install special flooring or additional padding under carpeting or wood flooring to lower the noise level of these items.

The board has broad discretion and authority to make or change rules. This power is given to it by the association documents and by the owners of the association. The owners vote in the members of the board specifically to handle the affairs of the association. Given this discretion and authority, the board can pass a number of rules governing the association that can make life better or more difficult for residents.

Home Smoking Policies Should Be Uniformly Applied

In a perfect world, rules should be uniformly applied in a non-discriminatory manner. In your example, the board likely passed the rule to make sure unit owners who smoke keep that smoke within their units. Sometimes smoke percolates through electrical and plumbing openings between units. This is especially the case with heavy smokers who smoke at home. In other instances, the smoke travels between units through the ventilation system or seeps in, around or through cracks around doors and windows.

In order to cope with the smell, fuss and bother caused by smoke, some buildings have simply gone non-smoking. They prohibit any smoking in the building, including in the owner’s unit. However, these same buildings sometimes grandfather existing owners until they sell their units. Until that happens, the association may require unit owners who smoke to take significant steps to keep any smoke from entering the common areas or other units in the building. And, these rules would apply whether the smoke is from cigarettes, cigars or marijuana.

Read more about Home Smoking Policies in Condos, Co-ops, Townhomes and Homeowner Associations (HOA)

Enforcing No Smoking Rules in Condos

Dealing with a Homeowners Association’s Rules

Enforcing No Smoking Rules in Condos

Can Condo Associations Ban Cannabis Smoking in Units? 

Interpreting No Smoking Rules in Condos



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