Is it legal to completely prohibit smoking in an apartment building or condo complex?

Yes. Landlords, homeowners associations, and local governments may legally restrict smoking in multi-unit housing. These restrictions do not discriminate against smokers or violate their right to privacy. For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see There Is No Constitutional Right to Smoke

Apartments

A landlord may adopt a policy that limits smoking in part or all of an apartment complex, including indoor and outdoor common areas and individual units. For more information on creating a smokefree policy in an apartment complex, see our publication, How Landlords Can Prohibit Smoking in Rental Housing. There is also a Model Smokefree Lease Amendment available for landlords.

Condominiums

A homeowners association may adopt a new rule or covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&R) that prohibits smoking on the property, including indoor and outdoor common areas and individual units. For more information about creating this type of policy, see our publication, How to Make a Condo Complex Smokefree.

Local Law (covering apartments and condos)

A local government can pass a law requiring certain areas in multi-unit housing to be designated as nonsmoking.

Laws restricting smoking, even in individual units, need only a “reasonable” basis. There are many sound reasons for such policies, including protecting nonsmokers from drifting secondhand smoke, reducing potential fire risk, and decreasing cleaning and maintenance costs due to cigarette smoke damage. See our Smokefree Housing Model Ordinance for more information.

Areas That Can Be Made Smokefree

Policies or ordinances that restrict smoking in multi-unit housing can target different areas of a housing complex. A local ordinance or policy could do one or more of the following:

  • Prohibit smoking in all indoor common areas, such as hallways, lobbies, storage areas, and laundry facilities (if these areas are enclosed workplaces, they are already required to be smokefree in California under California Labor Code section 6404.5, the state smokefree workplace law)
  • Prohibit smoking in outdoor common areas, such as a swimming pool, barbeque area, and parking lot
  • Prohibit smoking in all units, including individual balconies and patios
  • Prohibit smoking in a certain percentage of units in a building and group these units together to create a smokefree wing or floor

Those who wish to pursue smokefree housing policies can work with landlords, homeowners associations, and local governments to help protect residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke.

Additional Resources