condo/apartment smoking rules

whippetgalAugust 27, 2010

I live in a very large condo community. The HOA has recently posted rules concerning smoking. I approve of the fact that all public areas are now forbidden to smokers, as well as parking lots -- but then they included patios and balconies. I feel that this is a violation of my rights!

I don't smoke frequently but I do like to keep a window or the patio door open, especially in hot weather. Am I expected to lock myself into an airless space in order to smoke 1-2 cigarettes a day? Even my dog would suffocate under those circumstances.

At the same time, I have major complaints about the people who live above me as to noise, a 300-pound man's activities, his visitors who smoke and drop their butts on my patio, etc. The HOA refuses to listen to such complaints.

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I take it that you own your condo, not rent. HOA's don't usually pass this sort of rule without warning. Have you been attending the HOA meetings or reading the minutes? It is easier to fight this sort of thing before the rules are voted on, not after.

At this point, you can lodge a complaint with the HOA and ask for the rules to be changed. If they did not publicize the proposed changes before voting on them, you may have a case--they can't really change the rules on how you use the space you own without notifying you of the changes. My guess is that people smoking on patios and balconies led to smoke entering the open windows of people who don't smoke and they complained.

And actually, your last line, "The HOA refuses to listen to such complaints" isn't true. You complained about your upstairs neighbor and friends smoking outside and dropping butts on your patio, and the HOA has now banned outside smoking. So they did address this issue, just not in a way that you wanted them to.

My suggestion, long-term, is that you get more involved with your HOA. If you attend most of the meetings, you will know what is going on and what's being planned and you will be able to voice your opinion about the changes. Perhaps even join the board, to have a larger say in the running of the building.

And if you can't get the rules changed, then invest in a good quality air filter so that you can smoke indoors. And I'm a little confused--do the new rules require you just not to smoke on the balcony, or do they specifically state that all windows must be closed if you are smoking inside. Because there's a difference. You might be able to have an open window, just not step outside to smoke.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 9:13AM
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Unfortunately, I rent from an owner who lives elsewhere. However, I have been very active in condo community matters and have attended HOA meetings at their invitation for about six years. I was not aware of this sudden decision. To my knowledge, smoking was never an issue with the HOA until my upstairs neighbor, an owner and very nasty, told them that MY smoking was dangerous to his health.
Okay, I can understand that and will abide by the new rules. And I have NEVER smoked on my patio.
MY LOSS OF "FREEDOM" here is that, if I open my screened front door or my patio doors, while seated in my living room smoking, he will still smell the cigarette odor. Am I to be deprived of the right to fresh air, even if I am smoking in my living room???

    Bookmark   August 28, 2010 at 4:30PM
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Whippetgal, do the new rules say anything about smoking with the windows open? If they don't, you should be able to smoke in your unit, with your windows open, but not deliberately blowing the smoke out the window. If you aren't sure of the interpretation, ask a member of the board for clarification.

Is this upstairs neighbor the same one who throws butts on your balcony? His complaint about you seems very strange if he is.

Depending on how the condo is built, the smoke smell could travel along vents and between units in other ways than the windows.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 12:56PM
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Thanks, Camlan. No, the rules don't specify the opening or shutting of windows and doors, so that part is okay. I spoke to the president of the HOA and he assured me that their lawyers had reviewed the matter, before making it a ruling. But when I asked him about restricting MY AIR, he was stopped cold. Apparently, they hadn't thought of that.
I have just spent $70 to buy two "smoke-less" ashtrays, so that I can smoke in my living room, with the door open. If that doesn't satisfy them, I will have to give up my little 3-cigs-a-day enjoyment or move away.
I am not the only smoker here who feels violated by this rule but the others just shrug and walk away. I am a bit of a fighter, but I know I won't win this battle.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 1:24PM
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Another alternative might be to get a window fan and have it blow outside air in as you smoke. I realize that this would probably spread the cigarette smoke all over your condo, but it should prevent the smell from drifting out. How well this would work in the dead of winter is another thing, though.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2010 at 9:53PM
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