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Throughout New York City, multi-unit residential buildings are grappling with the new requirement that all properties have a smoking policy in place by August 28, 2018. Smoking policy can range from simply following the City’s current smoking laws, which prohibit smoking in all indoor public spaces as well as certain outdoor places, to an outright ban throughout the building.

For co-op and condo boards, there are many issues to weigh when deciding what your building’s smoking policy will be. One is that while your policy must be written and in place by the end of August, you can change it moving forward, so you don’t have to feel that your policy is set in stone for the future. Another is that to create a smoke-free building, you need to have the agreement of a supermajority of shareholders or unit owners in order to change the bylaws or proprietary leases.

City regulations already prohibit smoking in all public areas of the building, including the lobby, stairwells, hallways, elevator, basement, etc. However, the law does allow smoking inside the apartments themselves. Most buildings are choosing to use some form of this policy, and to spell out exactly where smoking is allowed and where it is prohibited. Our management team has developed a number of sample policies for our boards to choose from, and we are working to ensure that all our buildings have set their policies and distributed them to all owners and residents, as required, by the August 28 deadline.

If residents in your building are concerned about the smell of smoke emanating from inside certain units and bothering other residents, we have solutions, including the installation of smoke filters in those apartments. An engineering study can be done to track the smoke and determine where it is coming from. Building policy can then require those residents to install air filters to prevent the odor from spreading beyond their unit.

We have also worked with buildings to implement a complete ban on smoking, when that is the consensus among apartment owners. We have crafted policies that make it clear that there is no smoking allowed anywhere on the premises, and helped boards obtain the supermajority of owners required to vote the policy into effect. This enables those buildings to call themselves “Smoke-Free Buildings,” and we have found that this type of policy actually increases the value of each apartment. With smoking on the wane, and a mere 20 percent of New York City residents active smokers, smoke-free properties are very appealing to a growing portion of buyers in the New York real estate market.

Whatever path your building decides to take, your property manager should be helping your board create, distribute and implement the proper policy. Time is of the essence to meet the deadline and avoid potential penalties. Please contact us if we can help. Since 1984, Rudd Realty has focused exclusively on Manhattan property management. Our professional team has decades of experience, and we work closely with all of our properties, from co-ops and condos to rentals, commercial and mixed-use buildings of all sizes.