For those practitioners who represent the boards of condominiums, co-ops and/or homeowners associations or who may have clients who own or rent in a condominium, co-op or homeowners association complex, I'm providing this update on the status of the local Rockland County law known as "The Rockland County Multiple Dwelling Smoking Policy Act" which became effective January 1, 2012.
Many complexes, through their managing agents and boards, have received notice from the Rockland County Health Department of the requirement to develop, implement, properly notify tenants and post copies of the complexes' smoking policy, if the multiple dwelling complex has three or more dwelling units. In addition, if the multiple dwelling complex has five or more dwelling units, the Department of Health also requires the complex to submit their smoking policy to the Rockland County Department of Health. A multiple dwelling registration form was sent to these complexes in addition to the smoking policy form and a copy of the local law. The multiple dwelling complexes with three but less than five or more units must complete and properly post and notify tenants of their smoking policy, but is not required to submit their smoking policy to the Rockland County Department of Health.
The Department of Health is the enforcement agency who is empowered to enforce this local law as well as other New York State public health laws such as the New York State Clean Indoor Air Act found in New York State Public Health Law Article 13. Any violation of this Act may result in penalties in the amount of up to $1000 per violation.
When I first learned of this new law and its prospective implementation back in April 2012, I noticed that the law did not apparently apply to any multiple dwelling units which would not be considered a multiple dwelling rental property. I contacted the draftsperson of this law, Alden Wolfe, Esq., Vice Chairperson of the Rockland County Legislature. He informed me that it was not his intent, as I had already gathered from the legislative intent attached to the bill, to make this law applicable to homeowners associations and condominiums. However, when I contacted the Department of Health representatives to discuss the law's implementation, I was told that they were going to enforce the law against homeowner associations and condominiums alike.
After the Rockland County Bar Association Condo and Co-op committee met in April 2012, it was the consensus of the committee that we again contact the draftsperson of the legislation and ask for a clarification or amendment to the legislation to clarify its intent and how and against whom it will be enforced.
On October 16, 2012, the local law was amended by providing for exclusions for various dwelling units under the definition of "multiple dwelling". A Multiple dwelling under the amended Rockland County Multiple Dwelling Smoking Policy Act will specifically exclude condominiums, homeowners associations and cooperative apartments. The definition of a multiple dwelling is:
Any dwelling which is either rented, leased, let or hired out, to be occupied, or is occupied as the temporary or permanent residence or home of three or more households living independently of each other. This does not include condominium units, cooperative apartments and/or property owned by a homeowners' association.
[Amended 10-16-2012 by L.L. No. 6-2012]
The link for the legislation, as amended, is set forth below. Alden Smith
Chapter 349: SMOKING
Article IV: Smoking in Multiple Dwellings
If you have a legal matter that you need professional assistance in, do not hesitate to the Law Offices of Alden B. Smith.