May 17, 2012

Restrictions on Smoking Should Be Handled With Care

The King County Council is currently considering a proposal to prohibit smoking in the busiest areas of county parks.  If that proposal is adopted, King County will join the hundreds of other local governments around the country which have restricted smoking in public parks. Washington condominium and homeowners associations have an analogous authority to ban smoking in their common areas unless their governing documents specifically provide otherwise.  However, those associations’ boards must first adopt and publish rules to that effect in accordance with applicable procedures.

Smoking within the units of a condominium can only be restricted by amending that condominium’s declaration.  This requires obtaining the approval of a super-majority of the owners in accordance with applicable procedures.  Boards should be prepared for intense opposition to anti-smoking amendments.  They should also be aware that litigation is occasionally necessary to establish the validity of those amendments.

Condominium and homeowners associations that want to restrict smoking should seek legal advice in advance from attorneys with the expertise to help them achieve that goal in a legally defensible manner.  Failing to do so could be hazardous to their health.