Is it legal to completely prohibit smoking in an apartment building or condo complex?

Yes. Landlords, condo associations, and local governments may legally restrict smoking in multi-unit housing. These restrictions do not discriminate against smokers or violate their right to privacy. For a more detailed discussion of this issue, see “There Is No Constitutional Right to Smoke.” 

Apartments

A landlord may adopt a policy that limits smoking in part or all of an apartment complex, including indoor or outdoor common areas and individual units. For more information on creating a smokefree policy in an apartment, see our publication “How Landlords Can Prohibit Smoking in Rental Housing.”

Condos

A condo association may enact a new rule or CC&R that prohibits smoking on the property, including indoor or outdoor common areas and individual units. For more information about creating this type of policy, see our publication “How to Make a Condo Complex Smokefree.”

Local Law (covering apartments AND condos)

A local government can pass a law requiring that certain areas in multi-unit housing be designated as nonsmoking. A new law (also known as an ordinance) could apply only to apartments or to condos as well, and whether the units are owned or rented by the residents doesn’t matter. 

Laws to limit smoking, even in individual units, only need a “reasonable” basis. There are many sound reasons for such policies, including protecting nonsmokers from drifting secondhand smoke, reducing potential fire risk, and decreasing cleaning and maintenance costs due to cigarette smoke damage. See our Model Ordinance: Smokefree Housing for more information.

What Areas Can Be Made Smokefree

Policies or ordinances that restrict smoking in multi-unit housing can target different areas of the complex. A local ordinance or policy could

  • Prohibit smoking in all indoor common areas, such as hallways, lobbies, storage areas, and laundry facilities. (If these areas are enclosed workplaces, they are already required to be smokefree in California under California Labor Code section 6404.5, the state smokefree workplace law.)
  • Prohibit smoking in outdoor common areas, such as a swimming pool, barbeque area, and parking lot.
  • Prohibit smoking in all units, including individual balconies and patios.
  • Prohibit smoking in a certain percentage of units in a building and group these units together to create a smokefree wing or floor.

Those who wish to pursue smokefree housing policies can work with landlords, condo associations, and local governments to help protect residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke.