This Is our Village

Sunday, October 23, 2011


Is it an easy matter to change the bylaws of our association so we are mandatory nonsmoking? Would it be a good idea?

One of our owners showed me an article in the Oct. 19-Nov. 1 Condo News, “Making the Case for Tobacco-Free Housing,” that recommends this. As the article points out, smoke from one apartment seeps into adjacent apartments, especially in our old structures. Also, smoking in one apartment can be a fire hazard for several apartments—especially with old people.

In our 26-unit condo complex we had a heavy smoker, now passed away, whose smoke got into the upstairs apartment and really bothered a resident there, who has health problems. Now we have only one other smoker, an upstairs tenant. This would seem like a good time to pass such a bylaw IF it really makes sense. I suppose the bylaw change would be worded to apply only to new owners/tenants.

But does it make sense? The article suggests we might save on our building insurance. Is this really likely? (Toni, could you advise?)

The article suggests we could save costly on litigation. But might we not INCUR costly litigation, especially if we tried to enforce the rule?

Also, this is a time when we need buyers to buy our condo units. A stipulation of “no renters” or “no smoking” simply makes it even harder to find a buyer.

Have you fellow bloggers had any experience with this? Can our bylaws BE easily changed to prohibit smoking? Randall, could you weigh in? What would you folks on the blog recommend?


  1. There are probably just as many who would not buy if the building were filled with smokers. I am looking for a unit at this time and I would certainly want to know if smokers were next door to me.

  2. We found the worst is to live above a smoker, our units have many air connections. I tried adding insulation (the kind for drafty outlets, to the outlets, eh!). One contractor said he could seal my place, I guess I would try that before moving to get away from smoke.
    Lanny how would you stop a smoking renter, (lease sez no smoking)when the distant landlord doesn't care.

  3. Thanks for comments, Ruth and Elaine.

    If lease said no smoking, why would landlord not care, Elaine? The prohibition would have been on lease only by landlord's request, I would think, so I would notify landlord of violation.

    If condo association had a BYLAW prohibiting it, I would speak to tenant (probably landlord as well if a rented unit), but how could I enforce rule? By going to court and paying thousands of the association's money? I don't even know at this point if it's legal to have such a bylaw. (The Condo News article implied that it is, but are they correct?)

    I believe it is legal to have this prohibition in the lease, for I've seen it in several.

    This is a nasty problem, I agree. Perhaps it WOULD help to have a contractor "seal" the place. Who then pays for that, the aggrieved owner or the association? And if one person had this done and paid for by the association, how many more would cry "preferential treatment" and line up for the same privilege? At a cost of thousands to the association?

    As Charlie Brown used to say, "Aarrggh!"

    There are so many ways to incur huge legal bills in this condo living. Better if everyone goes 80% of the way in accommodating others, I think, and pay attorneys only for what one absolutely has to.

  4. If the buyer or renter signs a statement saying that he or she has read the documents and they have been amended for No Smoking, then yes, the rule should be enforced and for openers a lawyer's letter should be sent to the smoker. It's a reasonable rule and one that affects the health of multi unit residents. What does Rod Tennyson have to say in this regard?

  5. I think it's a good idea to put the no smoking in unit rule in our by laws. When we moved here in 2007, my husband smoked. He never smoked in the house and was very considerate to non-smokers. He used to smoke on the patio and carried a special wind proof ashtray so he wouldn't drop any ashes. It has been 2 years since he stopped smoking which has been a blessing. I never smoked but I do understand that it is very hard to stop. It is a danger in the units. You never can be too careful when it comes to fire.


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