Smoke-Free Decision: How Do We Find Common Ground?
As everyone is aware by now, the recent initiative to change James Kilmer Condominium Association to a Smoke-Free environment was unsuccessful – we won’t go into details on the initiative, but rather focus on what we are to expect moving forward… essentially how does the Board and Management now handle issues related to smoke transference?
As in many cases where residents may seek relief or aid from Board and Management of a condominium association, there is a process:
- A written complaint is filed with the Management Office
- Management follows up by reviewing details, communicating with all involved, reviews video footage or other information that may help in determining the truth of the matter – as best as humanly possible.
- Management determines if, in a clear and convincing manner, a violation has occurred based on the Associations Rules and Procedures.
- We then contact the person or persons that have been found to be in or have violated the rules to advise what the next steps are for correcting the offense… in some cases this can be as simple as ceasing behavior, a written warning or a hearing in front of the Board of Directors.
In the topic at hand, it is important to reiterate our current rules regarding smoke transference and how we handle complaints from residents when they are affected and we can pinpoint the origin; the snip-it below outlines what the Association will mandate in these instances:
- Smoke entering other units: Should smoke and/or its odor enter other units or any common areas from your unit, the Board may require the Owner to do the following, or any additional remedies that may be necessary, again at the unit Owner’s expense:
- Properly and fully seal your unit using caulking specifications set by the Board, including, but not limited to, electrical outlets and plumbing pipes. These can be invasive and costly procedures.
- Install air purifier system(s) capable of eliminating smoke or odors from tobacco products in the unit including, but not limited to, cigars, cigarettes, e‑cigarettes, pipes, or marijuana.
- Smokeless ashtrays may also be required.
I can tell you from experience and precedence here at James Kilmer, that the points above will be enforced (we did consult the association’s legal counsel on this topic). While these are typically borne out of a Board Hearing, Management will certainly advise that the owner of the “smoking unit” take these measures prior to the hearing date.
Now the other side of the coin… using the example of the smoking unit going through the process of the violation hearing, and lets say that owner did follow through with ensuring their unit is caulked/sealed properly, and they are using smokeless ashtrays, and lets say they took the final step of installing air purification devices in their unit and lets say that other owner or owners still smell smoke coming into their unit… what now?
These are the toughest cases and when you take into account that some of the complaints Management does receive come from smoking while on balconies or terraces, there is not much else that can be done at this level. The Board has heard the owners, they have decided (presumably) and the owner found in violation has acted, they have followed the decisions of the Board, they have acted in good faith. This matter now becomes an owner-to-owner matter.
We sincerely hope that no future cases become unsolvable. We hope that when issues arise they can be solved amicably between the persons involved with Board/Management direction or on your own – we really do – but in the event that the directives from the hearing are in place do not provide relief, the parties will need to seek other remedies in order to provide relief. This may be by way of the affected owner taking a few of the self-help practices that were Board mandated to the smoking party – check your unit for penetrations, install an air purifier or two… if there is still an issue, you will need to seek outside advice on how to address this matter outside of the Association, Board or Management.
In the end, we all live in a community and some communities have neighbors closer than others – ours is a typical condominium association and we are close to one another. Lets keep this in mind and help each other enjoy our homes, peacefully and safely.
Thank you for taking the time to read this summary.