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Manhattan property owners having an important looming deadline this month when it comes to all Class A buildings of three families or more to enact a finalized “smoking policy.” The clock has been ticking on compliance with the new ban since last year. The last day to adopt its requirements is August 28, 2018.
Over the next few sections, we are going to examine what co-op apartment owners and boards need to be aware of about this important legislation.
The law defines a smoking policy as any written statement in plain sight that smoking is restricted on the premises of multi-unit property; co-op apartments are included in this as well. The current law provides that common areas are already prohibited smoking areas, so this new law includes:
The law does not apply to regulating a property owner’s decision to allow smoking inside of the unit. It may push them to prohibit smoking altogether. However, the language of your co-op’s lease and by-laws may make matters more complicated.
In general, changing the proprietary lease needs a super-majority vote of all shareholders in favor of making those changes. The same scenario could apply to the by-laws as well. Working with a real estate attorney for co-op apartments in Manhattan. He or she could check to see how much “wiggle room,” if any, to change the existing smoking policy of individual apartments.
Property owners should keep in mind that, if their co-op board met its due diligence requirements, then it may not be able to move forward.
The trend is shifting toward co-op building boards voting for a 100% smoke-free environment. Real estate lawyers that represent co-op owners in Manhattan believe the change is due to preference for clean air and green living. This is further highlighted by the fact that tolerance for next-door neighbors, who smoke, is at an all-time low.
The NYC Health Department favors the new law, particularly after learning that 49% of locals have reported smelling smoke from other units or on the street while spending time at home. A 2016 survey reports that smoking fell from 16.2% in 2011 to 11.5%. The housing authority put their ban in place at the end of July as part of a federal rule modification.
As far as action that might be taken against offending buildings after the ban is in effect, co-op boards can impose fines or obtain a court-ordered injunction against the owner in question. The can also cancel the lease allowing the non-compliance shareholder to stay in the unit until eviction.
Speaking with a licensed, real estate attorney for co-op apartments in Manhattan can help boards and owners work out disputes and issues of non-compliance. At Aronstam Law, we can help you and your board understand the legal basis for municipal policies and compliance resources available.
Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to discuss your real estate issues.