This regularly-scheduled sponsored Q&A column is written by Eli Tucker, Arlington-based Realtor and Rosslyn resident. Please submit your questions to him via email for response in future columns. Enjoy!
Question: Is there anything I can do about smoking in my condo? When my neighbors smoke, there is a strong cigarette odor in the hallway and inside my unit. Unfortunately, the building manager and the Board are reticent to do anything about it and say that they can’t tell people to stop smoking under the current bylaws.
Answer: I’m on the Board for the 1800 Wilson condos in Rosslyn and we’ve been exploring a smoking ban since our 2015 annual meeting. We’ve begun crafting a plan, but haven’t implemented anything to-date, hence the “Part 1.” I plan to write a second column to share our experience as we move through the process of establishing a cleaner home for our residents.
Arlingtonians Do Not Smoke
As of the 2012 census, only 11.8% of men and 10.2% of women in Arlington smoked, compared to national averages of 22.2% of men and 17.9% of women. Arlington also saw the 2nd sharpest decline of male smokers in the country, just behind Falls Church. The CDC currently reports that only 9.8% of adults in Arlington smoke.
Ban Smoking, Improve Property Value
I’d argue that establishing your building as a smoke-free community will improve property value over time because it appeals to approximately 90% of the local adult population and sets you apart from other communities. Consider how much more valuable a smoke-free building becomes to groups like families, those who suffer from asthma, and homeowners with a sensitive sense of smell.
Another factor in improved value is that homes that have been smoked in are often more difficult to sell and sell for less because of the lingering scent. The value of your home/community is heavily influenced by past sales, so anything that causes a home in your community to sell for less and/or take longer to sell will hinder growth.
Types of Bans
Common Areas: In most cases, Boards should easily be able to ban smoking from common areas like courtyards, pools, and rooftop decks. The management of common elements is at the discretion of the Board and can be handled via changes to the Rules & Regulations, without requiring a vote by the owners.
Total Ban: A full smoking ban would include banning smoking from individual units and/or Limited Common Elements (e.g. private balconies) and is a much more difficult task in an established community. Per the advice of the 1800 Wilson legal advisor at Whiteford, Taylor & Preston, a total ban requires a change to the by laws, which usually requires a two-thirds affirmative vote from the owners (a non-vote counts as a no-vote). They also advised that, if the by-law change were to pass, current owners should be grandfathered into the original by-laws allowing them to smoke in their unit and Limited Common Elements.
Other Quick Tips
- There is not any case law in Virginia that establishes smoking as a nuisance, making a successful lawsuit against your neighbor or Association unlikely.
- Communities that explore a smoking ban should work to find a convenient, safe place for owners and their guests to smoke, but one that is not directly underneath the windows of other units.
- Smokers are not a protected class.
- There are special vent filters and door seals that smokers can use to contain scent to their own unit.
I would love to hear from other Arlingtonians who live in buildings that have also dealt with this topic, either successfully or unsuccessfully.
Eli Tucker is a licensed Realtor in Virginia, Washington DC, and Maryland with Real Living At Home, 2420 Wilson Blvd #101 Arlington, VA 22201, (202) 518-8781.
CivFed Preps for Controversial Vote — “The Arlington County Civic Federation plans to set aside its entire February meeting to discuss, debate and (perhaps) vote upon a resolution that drew…
Arlington is now included in a Dense Fog Advisory that was earlier issued for other parts of Virginia and Maryland. The fog is expected to clear up overnight, but for…
Good Wednesday evening, Arlington. Today we published 5 articles that were read a total of 9367 times… so far. 📈 Top stories The following are the most-read articles for today…
In Green Valley, resident Portia Clark says she and her neighbors are bombarded with calls and letters from realtors and potential investors about buying their homes. “We were once a…
With holiday season around the corner, it is easy to put your health on the back burner. If you are looking to get back on track during the holiday season, we are here to keep you accountable. At Aspire Higher Training, we offer 1-1 Personal Training for ALL fitness levels, Semi-Private Group Training, Sport Specific Training and Injury Prevention/Post Physical Therapy Training. Monica and her team of trainers are available across Arlington, Va.
If you don’t have access to a gym, no problem, we are located in South Arlington, but if you want to workout from your home/apartment gym, we also offer that flexibility. We make it as convenient as possible. Before getting started, we offer a free 15-30 minute consultation call to see how we can best help you towards your health and fitness goals. Let’s gets started on your health and fitness goals today by setting up a call at your earliest convenience: https://www.aspirehigherfitness.com/contact
Hello Everyone — You are invited to the final meeting of NAACP Arlington Branch NAACP for 2022
When: Dec 12, 2022, 07:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: 2022 General Membership Meeting — NAACP Arlington Branch
Register in advance for this webinar
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.
7:00 pm Meeting Opens.
7:30 pm Installation
8:00 pm Presentation/Q&A; by Dave Schutz on Ranked Choice Voting
8:30 pm Final Remarks and Comments by Newly Elected Members
9:00 pm Meeting Adjourns
Installation Official Robert N. Barnette, Jr. President, Virginia State Conference NAACP The President of the Virginia State Conference NAACP will serve as the Installation Official and provide remarks for our newly elected officers at the general membership.
Join us as we celebrate the holiday of Chanukah! Enjoy delicious Latkes, hot cocoa, donuts and more!
Clarendon Menorah Lighting and Community Celebration
Experience the festival of lights!!
*Lighting of a giant 9 foot Menorah