How to Adopt a No Smoking Policy for your HOA

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Steps to help guide the process of adopting a no smoking policy for your community.

Establishing a no smoking policy for your homeowners association community can help increase property values and reduce the risk of fire. It can also help improve the health and comfort of residents exposed to unwanted second-hand smoke—especially if your community is a condominium building.

While smokers have the option to quit for their health, residents exposed to second-hand smoke do not. Those who do not wish to be exposed to drifting tobacco smoke may complain under your association’s nuisance rules, and may require the HOA to install air filters, exhaust fans or seal crevices between units. These measures can be costly and often are ineffective. Determined homeowners may also take legal action.

If your HOA board is considering a smoke-free policy, here are five steps to help the process.

  1. Determine which areas of your community will be designated smoke-free. Many local and state laws already prohibit smoking in indoor common areas and near building entrances; this approach may work well for your community as well. Outdoor exclusive use areas, such as balconies and patios, could also be designated smoke-free. Or, your HOA could prohibit smoking on all areas of the property, including inside homeowners’ units.
  2. Educate homeowners on the benefits of a smoke-free policy. Adopting a no smoking policy can benefit everyone: it reduces the risk of fires from unattended cigarettes, it can improve property values due to less cigarette butt litter, and it can save the HOA money from legal fees and remediation efforts to stop drifting smoke. Include information in newsletters, on your community website and posted in common areas.
  3. Ask homeowners for their input. Conduct a survey or hold a special meeting to discuss the possibility of a smoke-free policy. Discuss homeowner concerns and possible benefits.
  4. Understand how a new policy might be adopted. Your board can update the nuisance provision or restrict smoking in your community’s Declaration of Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs), or the board can create a new no smoking rule. Amending your CC&Rs is more costly and time consuming, but provides for greater enforcement capabilities
  5. Talk with an attorney. Drafting a no smoking policy can be complicated, especially if your board wants to amend its CC&. Understand your options and all that is involved.

With these steps taken, your board is ready to take a vote among homeowners. If your HOA is successful in adopting a no smoking policy, be sure to provide enough time to allow homeowners to adjust to the change before implementing and enforcing the policy.

This article contains general information. Individual situations are unique; please, consult your attorney before utilizing any of the information contained in this article.

Source: RealtyTimes.com, Mysmokefreehousing.org
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