Legislative Memorandum Re: Smoking in Housing Accommodations

INTRODUCTION

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), representing more than 17,000 owners, developers, managers and brokers of real property in New York City, appreciates the opportunity to comment on the Council’s efforts to curb smoking in housing accommodations. A number of our residential property manager and owner members have already taken steps to restrict, and in some instances, prohibit smoking throughout their buildings, including private residences. However, these steps were only taken after careful planning and consideration of tenant needs and market conditions. Similarly, REBNY appreciates the Council’s efforts to promote the well-being of New Yorkers but cautions that governmental regulation to private behavior should be carefully balanced so as not to inhibit personal freedoms.

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INTRO NO: 484

SUBJECT: Banning Smoking in the Common Areas of All Multiple Dwellings

SUMMARY: Broadens the current prohibition of smoking in common areas to include all multiple dwelling buildings, incorporating buildings with fewer than 10 units.

SPONSORS: Vacca, Barron, Constantinides, Gentile, Johnson, Kallos, Koo, Richards, Rodriguez, Vallone, Cohen

REBNY TAKES NO POSITION ON INTRO No. 484 in large part because REBNY’s members already comply with the provisions drafted by this bill, as outlined in the Residential Management Council’s smoking guidelines. [1] REBNY’s membership readily recognizes the health hazards associated with smoking and second hand smoke and recommends that the Council consider expanding the definition of “smoking” under NYC Administrative Code §17-502(y) to include substances other than tobacco. 

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INTRO NO: 977

SUBJECT: Banning Smoking in City-Financed Housing Multiple Dwellings

SUMMARY: Prohibits smoking in all areas of multiple dwellings receiving financing from the City.

SPONSORS: Richards, Chin, King, Koo, Rodriguez, Salamanca, Jr., Cabrera , Grodenchik, Vacca, Gentile

REBNY OPPOSES INTRO No. 977.  Because of the bill’s broad definition of “City-financed housing,” this bill affects a large swath of New York City’s existing and yet-to-be-built housing stock. Captured in this definition will be developments that include mixed developments with market-rate and affordable units. The inability to smoke within the private residence in these buildings could devalue units and affect persons that are not beneficiaries of such “financial assistance.” The potential of this bill to affect existing buildings would mean that many current tenants would be restricted in exercising their personal freedom to smoke. 

Furthermore, our members monitor and enforce no-smoking policies primarily by managing complaints from neighbors and from reports from building staff. However, many housing complexes simply do not have the staff to adequately monitor smoking activity throughout a building. Finally, while building owners may adopt a no-smoking policy, a tenant-based violation of that policy should be enforced against the tenant – not the building owner as envisioned by this bill.

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INTRO NO: 1585

SUBJECT: Disclosure of Smoking Policies for Class A Multiple Dwellings

SUMMARY: Requires owners to develop and provide an annual disclosure of a smoking policy within lease agreements and/or governing bylaws clearly stating where smoking is permitted and prohibited, relating to common areas and outdoor spaces in a Class A multiple dwellings. Owners must provide any changes of the policy in writing to their tenants. Penalties for these new provisions will result in fines of $100 for each infraction, in addition to existing penalties.

SPONSORS: Torres, Salamanca, Jr.

REBNY OPPOSES INTRO No. 1585. As noted in the introduction, REBNY’s membership has already begun to adopt no-smoking policies throughout their portfolios, with the exception of tenants who smoke that have been grandfathered in. To enforce a smoking policy upon each residential building, which has to be verified by documentation–or face the consequence of a civil penalty, is simply too draconian. Moreover, with the Smoke Free Air Act of 2002, there is already a clear delineation stating where smoking is permitted and prohibited. [2] There is simply no need to further encumber property managers and self-managed cooperative boards to this needless regulation and paperwork.

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[1] Issues to Consider - Smoking and Second Hand Smoking in Multi-Unit Residential Buildings. REBNY, Residential Management Council. April 2, 2012. Web. Accessed April 26, 2012. <https://www.rebny.com/content/dam/rebny/Documents/PDF/Rules%20%26%20Regulations/RMC_Subcommittee_Smoking_Policy.pdf

[2] See, § 17-503-506, 17-513-513.4. New York City Administrative Code

See, §10 of Title 24. Rules of the City of New York.