30 November 2006
This Month: A NMHC report from Washington DC
Smoking Complaints Spark No Smoking Rules at Apartments & Hotels
Apartment management and ownership groups across the country are beginning to move toward banning smoking at their properties.
This past September 1, Centrum Management LLC, a management company based in Virginia, banned smoking at all of its 49 apartment communities. Previously, the company had only banned smoking in the common areas of their properties.
It is a move that followed a decision earlier this past summer by Marriott International, the country’s largest hotel chain, banning smoking on its properties. The Marriott Company said that the demand for smoking rooms has gradually waned while the complaints about smoking have increased.
Another hotel chain, Westin, banned smoking at its properties last year and has reported an increase in revenue since the policy was implemented.
While a growing number of small apartment management companies have implemented prohibitions on smoking, according to the Legal Resource Center for Tobacco Regulation, Litigation and Advocacy, the Centrum company is the first regional company to ban smoking in it units.
Centrum, which caters to residents over the age of 55, stated that its policy to ban smoking was adopted in reply to complaints from its residents about smoke. The new policy will be applied to new rental agreements only.
Although Centrum has not been the subject of lawsuits, other apartment management companies and owners have been sued by residents claiming their health has been damaged by exposure to second-hand smoke.
Apartment industry groups recommend that any ownership or management company considering a smoking ban at their properties should be aware that smokers are not a protected class and no federal law grants residents of rental housing an unfettered right to smoke.
Apartment managers and owners should be able to restrict smoking by new residents in their properties much like they restrict pets and nuisances as terms of the rental contract.
Reprinted courtesy of Apartment Age