How to Deal with Secondhand Smoke in Your California Home
It can be extremely challenging living in an apartment or condo complex, especially when your neighbors’ actions make your life unpleasant in certain ways. Along with noisy neighbors, one of the most common tenant complaints is secondhand smoke. Luckily, there are steps you can take to try and limit neighbors' smoking or stop it altogether.
Whether you have respiratory problems, are concerned about the health effects of secondhand smoke on your children, or do not like the smell of cigarette smoke or marijuana smoke wafting into your home, the law may be on your side. Although most Southern California cities and counties do not have ordinances that place restrictions on tenant smoking, there are several that ban or restrict smoking in multi-unit housing. However, you may have options for dealing with secondhand smoke—especially cigarette smoke—regardless of where you live in California.
Local Nonsmoking Laws
Although there is no statewide prohibition on smoking in private residential units like apartments and condos, some Californian cities and counties have passed nonsmoking ordinances. In Los Angeles County, you probably have the law on your side if you are bothered by secondhand smoke from your neighbors, especially if you live in public housing. There are also several Southern California cities, like Pasadena, that require both public and private multi-unit housing to be 100% smoke-free,
In these cities and counties, the nonsmoking laws apply to all residents, regardless of how long they have lived in the unit, and an experienced Pasadena tenants’ rights lawyer can help you enforce local nonsmoking ordinances.
In California, there are also some cities that restrict smoking in certain areas of multi-unit residential housing but do not prohibit smoking altogether in rental units. For example, Burbank controls exposure to secondhand smoke by banning smoking in common residential areas accessible to anyone living in the development, especially areas that are popular with children, including pools, play areas, elevators, and hallways. The city also prohibits smoking within five feet of all entrances to apartment or condo complexes, and it prevents people from smoking in private non-enclosed areas of a unit, such as a balcony or a patio.
If you are Santa Monica tenant, Burbank tenant, or Glendale tenant looking into options for dealing with secondhand smoke, contact the experienced attorneys at Tenants Law Firm today.
Terms of Your Lease or Rental Agreement
More landlords are choosing to either prohibit smoking in their rental units or restrict smoking to common areas. Landlords have the right to ban or limit smoking in residential units under California law, and if your complex includes a play area for children, the law requires the landlord to prohibit smoking within 25 feet of the space.
Therefore, if you are concerned with secondhand smoke wafting into your home, then the smoking policies stated in your lease may protect you. Landlords are required to include the smoking policy for the complex in the lease agreement since 2012, so if it is not there, ask for the policy in writing. However, the smoking policy may also be set by the homeowner’s association if you live in a condo.
Contact Your Landlord
If either local laws or your lease prohibits or restricts smoking in rental units, then you should try contacting to your landlord about the secondhand smoke. Depending on what you are more comfortable with, you should try talking face-to-face with your landlord, writing a letter, or sending an email to explain the laws or lease provisions and ask your landlord to enforce nonsmoking rules so your neighbor will stop. Keep copies of all communication with your landlord in case of any future legal action.
When Should You Contact a Tenants’ Rights Lawyer?
If you cannot reach a satisfactory solution with your neighbors or landlord and the secondhand smoke is disrupting your life, then you might consider moving out of the rental unit. Because of the harmful health effects of secondhand smoke, you may have a right to break your lease or even file a lawsuit for nuisance or disruption of your right to quiet enjoyment.
If you need a lawyer to help you stop secondhand smoke from wafting into your apartment and bothering you, then contact a Burbank lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant matters.