Smoking, marijuana, and your condo HOA

By Deborah Goonan, Independent American Communities

Marijuana legalization in some states has created an even stronger push to make apartment and condo buildings smoke free.

Smoke and odor from cigarettes, cigars, and pipes — whether tobacco or marijuana — causes several problems in multifamily housing. Foul odors. Health risks from breathing in second-hand smoke. Smoke stained walls, ceilings, and floor coverings. Ashes and cigarette butts to clean up and dispose of. Increased risk of fire, and higher insurance rates as a result.

It’s no surprise that smoking is prohibited in almost every public place in the U.S., including many bars and taverns.

And now, one of the last safe havens for smokers — their homes and apartments — may also be going smoke free.

In 2016, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) passed a rule to make all public housing units and common areas completely smoke free. A two-year transition period ended July, 1, 2018. Now all tenant leases in public house forbid smoking of any kind anywhere on the property, including apartment units.

Likewise, more and more landlords are leasing only to nonsmokers.

Marijuana leaf cannabis

Is it possible to ban smoking in condominium buildings?

While many condo residents consider smoking a nuisance, a condo association faces considerable challenges in its quest to go smoke free. It’s a bigger problem in states such as Colorado, where recreational use of marijuana is now legal.

According to some legal experts, the HOA has the power to prohibit smoking in common areas. But the only way to prevent smoking in condo units is to amend the condominium declarations (covenants and restrictions). That requires a supermajority of all unit owners to vote in favor of a smoking ban.

Thus, it can be difficult to change condo restrictions and eliminate smoking in a condo association.

So, if you live in a city or town where the only housing available to you is an apartment or condo, and you don’t want to live next door to smokers, you may be better off renting a traditional apartment vs. buying or renting a condo.

Even in a non-smoking building, a landlord or condo association will likely allow use of marijuana in private units, in its non-smoking forms, as permitted by state law.

Some condo associations will allow smoking in units, it the owner agrees to seal gaps and openings in ducts, doorways, or windows, to prevent smoke from moving into neighboring units. These modifications must be approved by the HOA, and can be costly.

For readers interested in finding apartment or condo housing that does not allow smoking, the American Nonsmokers’ Rights Foundation maintains a list of “U.S. Laws and Policies Restricting or Prohibiting Smoking in Private Units of Multi-Unit Housing.”


Can Your HOA Weed Out Marijuana?
by Phaedra J. Howard | Feb 28, 2019 |

Smoking will be banned in public housing nationwide at end of July
JULY 12, 2018 / 12:12 PM / CBS NEWS

Smoking banned in public housing nationwide, effective today
JULY 31, 2018 / 11:48 AM / CBS NEWS

Here’s what condo associations can do about smoking in units Howard Dakoff, Condo Adviser, Chicago Tribune, April 4, 2017

How far can condominium board go in regulating smoking?
Harris B. Katz, Special to TCPalm Published 8:00 a.m. ET Feb. 11, 2018

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