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How to Implement a Smoking Ban that Works

The Challenge

We have two buildings, one a co-op and one a condo, and both have had trouble with residents who smoke. The Brooklyn co-op, which has a ban, had a new shareholder buy in because of the no-smoking provision. But it turns out that there’s an apartment directly above hers that still has smokers. The 32-unit condo in Long Island City has had trouble imposing a ban, even though there are a lot of complaints about smoking.

The Solution

In the co-op, the shareholders voted to revise the proprietary lease to add the no-smoking provision. Then the board had to deal with those defiant smokers upstairs. The building has escalating fines, which double on each offense. Luckily for the building, the smokers in question weren’t paying maintenance at this time. So we were able to bundle all those issues into a legal case. We started a holdover proceeding against them for non-payment of maintenance. We also threw in the breach of the proprietary lease and the house rules, to entice the court to continue along the path to eventually evict them and recapture the apartment. As for the condo, this is the second year in a row that we’re going through the process of placing the smoking ban on the agenda. It’s affecting the warranty of habitability and that makes it an issue for the condo. They need a super-majority to approve. Last night, they were one shy of a quorum. We’re making a concerted push to get it changed, primarily by gathering proxies.

The Lesson

It’s communication. People are taking smoke inhalation much more seriously now. But you have to communicate and rally support, because there is no guarantee that a ban will pass.

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Learn all the basics of NYC co-op and condo management, with straight talk from heavy hitters in the field of co-op or condo apartments

Professionals in some of the key fields of co-op and condo board governance and building management answer common questions in their areas of expertise

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