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Managing Rental Properties and Smoking Ordinances in Culver City

Image is a black, red, and white no smoking symbol.  Investing in rental properties can be lucrative. It can also be fraught with potential pitfalls and problems. Using a knowledgeable property manager can help rental owners navigate all possible obstacles, including new or expanded laws and regulations. One area of regulation that can change or expand is the issue of smoking in a rental property.

In 2014, Culver City adopted Ordinance No. 2014-006, prohibiting smoking in multi-unit housing. The ordinance went into affect in 2015 and applies to all Culver City multi-unit and condo associations. It not only affects tenants who rent such properties, it also affects rental owners and associations who must enforce the city’s regulations.

According to David C. Swedelson, a Community Association Attorney, “The ordinance was passed to prohibit smoking in multi-unit housing, which includes community associations located in Culver City. With regard to community associations, this ban applies to all common areas and residential units, with the exception of designated smoking areas. We should note that for purposes of the ordinance, the term “unit” encompasses not only the dwelling area of a unit, but also any patio, balcony, or other outside area appurtenant to the dwelling unit where an owner might typically go to smoke. If you are on the board or manage a Culver City condominium association, you need to think about where to establish a designated smoking area at the association-preferably in a location as far away as possible from units so as to limit complaints from owners with units nearby.”

According to Culver City’s website, the ordinance requires “condominium associations amend their rules and regulations to include several provisions dictated under the new ordinance at the earliest possible date (if they have not done so already). These include a clause providing that as of May 2016, or an earlier date if the HOA board so determines, it is a violation of the rules to allow or engage in smoking in a Unit; a clause providing that it is a violation of the rules for the homeowner or any other person subject to the control of the homeowner or present by invitation or permission of the homeowner to engage in smoking in any common area of the property other than a designated smoking area; a clause providing that it is a violation of the rules for a homeowner or any other person subject to the control of the homeowner or present by invitation or permission of the homeowner to violate any law regulating smoking while anywhere on the property.”

What all of this means is that all multi-unit rental properties and condominiums are smoke free in Culver City, except in designated smoking areas, and that the responsibility to make sure that tenants obey smoking regulations rests either with the property owner, or the property manager or association.

Assuming liabilities for enforcing municipal regulations, such as a smoking ban, can be a daunting prospect for many property owners. These are instances when an experienced property manager, such as Martin Feinberg, can take a lot of the fear and trepidation out of owning an investment property.

In regards to Culver City’s smoking ban, a good property manager will understand that they “must investigate any complaints of smoking, hold hearings, and consider facilitating mediation.” If the resident will not stop the smoking, a property manager will understand that they may be required to file a lawsuit against the smoker or otherwise open up the possibility that they and the property owner could be named in a lawsuit by other affected tenants.

These are the kinds of issues that often cause potential property owners to choose other investment opportunities. Professional property management companies can alleviate such concerns however, and will help ensure that a rental owner’s liability is also successfully managed.

Image is a cartoon illustration of a city street with buildings, homes, and a church.