California Considers Smoke Free Apartments

Smoking in rental apartments is a controversial topic. On one hand, it seems reasonable that one should be free to do all legal activities within their own home, rented or not. On the other hand, when does this right to privacy infringe upon the rights of others?

The State of California may soon be intervening on the side of non-smokers.

050108 2244 californiac1 California Considers Smoke Free Apartments

Senate Bill 1598, authored by Senator Alex Padilla (D-San Fernando Valley) and passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 29th, would provide legal protection for apartment owners who want to ban smoking in their apartment complexes.

The bill does not seek an outright ban on smoking in apartments, an action that some anti-smoking groups have pushed for, who claim that the bill does not change the status quo. This middle of the road approach protects private apartment owners who want to ban smoking in their apartments from lawsuits.

Apartment owners, however, already implicitly have the right to enact regulations and prohibitions in their apartment buildings, including any those pertaining to smoking. So, what does the bill actually accomplish?

All court cases that we have seen have involved non-smokers filing suit to force apartment owners to take action to prevent second hand smoke under the Fair Housing Act, or suits between neighbors not apartment owners facing legal recourse on the grounds of rights to privacy or a ‘right to smoke.’

Many apartment owners have already ‘cleared the air;’ by prohibiting smoking in their apartment buildings, they can command higher rents as well as slow depreciation and mitigate the risk of fires.

The law may have the effect of creating publicity about the benefits that apartment owners may reap by going smoke free; smokers that rent apartments in buildings that change policies will face the decision of whether to move out or to take it outside.

Be on the lookout for tips in our apartment guide on the topic of settling disputes between apartment neighbors.

Have renters had problems with a neighbor who smokes? Would you pay more to live in a non-smoking apartment building?

Should MyNewPlace add a Smoke Free search filter?

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