Paula Chin in Legal/Financial on January 19, 2018
By August of this year, under Local Law 147, all co-op and condo boards must create a written policy spelling out where smoking is permitted and prohibited, including common outdoor areas such as courtyards, rooftops, balconies, and patios. The policy must be provided to all residents and posted inside the building.
The law does not prohibit smoking inside apartments, nor does it require boards to ban smoking. Rather, it’s designed to make residents aware of the building’s policy and help prospective purchasers decide if the building’s policy is one they can live with.
But there is widespread speculation that the new law will give momentum to a trend that has been building or several years – the move by co-op and condo boards to impose building-wide bans that prohibit smoking inside apartments and in private outdoor spaces.
“You can see what direction the city is going in,” says attorney Eva Talel, a partner at Strook & Strook & Lavan, referring to the spread of smoking bans not only in residential buildings, but in bars and restaurants, even in public parks and beaches. “There’s a real concern about health hazards.”
Andrew Lazarus, senior vice president at Tudor Realty, agrees that Local Law 147 may well give boards a push – intended or not – in that direction. “Keeping up with new regulations and incorporating them into formal documents is business as usual for boards and managers,” Lazarus says, “but where this law differs is that it will very likely lead to a larger, ongoing discussion about buildings going smoke-free.”
Lazarus notes that the trend is undeniable. “I’ve noticed a real change of attitude at annual meetings,” he says. “Compared to years past, shareholders are much more willing to talk about the issue, ask about what other buildings are doing, and hear both sides of the argument. And boards have already been actively exploring different policies and soliciting views by surveying shareholders and unit-owners.”
With the new law, he adds, “there will definitely be an extension of that conversation.”
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