BY JOHN KIRITSIS, ESQ., CPA, MBA, MS, JD, LL.M
In New York City, smoking regulations within cooperative buildings (co-ops) are often governed by a combination of the co-op’s bylaws, city regulations, and state laws. While co-ops have the authority to set their own smoking policies, there are legal considerations and restrictions to be aware of. Here’s an overview of NYC co-op laws involving smoking:
- Smoking Policies in Co-op Bylaws:
Co-op boards have the authority to establish smoking policies within the building’s bylaws. These policies may include restrictions on smoking in common areas, individual units, and outdoor spaces. They can also dictate penalties for violations of the smoking policy.
- New York City Smoke-Free Air Act:
The New York City Smoke-Free Air Act prohibits smoking in indoor areas of certain public places and places of employment, including common areas of residential buildings. Co-op common areas such as hallways, lobbies, and elevators are generally required to be smoke-free.
- Secondhand Smoke Concerns:
Co-op boards may be motivated to implement smoking restrictions to address concerns about secondhand smoke exposure, which can pose health risks to residents. Secondhand smoke can travel through ventilation systems and other shared spaces, affecting non-smoking residents.
- Enforcing Smoking Policies:
Co-op boards have the authority to enforce their smoking policies through fines, penalties, and other measures outlined in the bylaws. Residents who violate the smoking policy may be subject to disciplinary action.
- Disclosure to Prospective Buyers:
Co-ops may require prospective buyers to disclose whether they are smokers during the application process. This information could influence the board’s decision to approve the prospective buyer.
- Reasonable Accommodations:
Co-op boards must also consider the needs of residents who may have disabilities that require them to use tobacco products for medical reasons. Under certain circumstances, reasonable accommodations may need to be made.
- Amending Bylaws:
If a co-op wishes to implement or change smoking policies, the process often involves amending the bylaws. This typically requires a vote by the co-op’s shareholders, with a specified percentage of shareholders needing to approve the change.
- Communication and Education:
Effective communication and education about the smoking policies are essential to ensure that residents are aware of the rules and their implications.
- Legal Review:
Before implementing or amending smoking policies, co-op boards should consult with legal professionals who specialize in real estate law to ensure compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.
- Public Health and Safety:
Smoking policies are often implemented to protect the health and safety of all residents and to create a comfortable living environment for everyone in the co-op community.
Given the complexities and potential legal implications of smoking policies in NYC co-ops, it’s recommended that co-op boards seek legal guidance when drafting, amending, or enforcing these policies. Additionally, residents should familiarize themselves with their co-op’s smoking policies and adhere to them to maintain a harmonious living environment.
Citations, References and Potentially Useful Resources for Further Information:
New York State Constitution
Federal Securities Regulation
New York State Martin Act
New York Condominium Act
New York State Security Regulations
New York Business Corporation Law
New York Limited Liability Company Law
New York Uniform Partnership Act
Federal Internal Revenue Code
New York State Tax Laws, Rules & Regulations
New York City Tax Laws, Rules & Regulations
Winston Churchill Owners, Inc. v. Regents Real Estate Associates
Board of Managers of the Park Regis Condominium v. Park Regis Owners Corp.
Park Sutton Condominium v. 447 E. 57th St. LLC
28 E. 10th Street Corp. v. Veras
Riverside Syndicate, Inc. v. Munroe
Essex House Condominium v. Marks
The Parc Vendome Condominium v. Atkinson
54-56 Meserole Street Owners Corp. v. Rossi
The Beekman Regent Condominium v. Bottiglieri
Chelsea 19th LLC v. West 19th Street Realty LLC
New York Department of Finance
New York City Department of Buildings
New York City Bar Association
New York State Bar Association
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