The new Tobacco Act from the point of view of housing companies
This article will be released in ”Omakiinteistö” –magazine
Smoking cigarettes is year in, year out, one of the biggest topics in housing companies. The renewed Tobacco Act gives housing companies additional means to control smoking.
Influences of the new Tobacco Act
According to the new Tobacco Act smoking is directly by virtue of law forbidden in the common and general indoor areas. In addition to that the housing company can forbid smoking in the yard near entrances, ventilation, children’s playgrounds and on common balconies. Housing companies should take these prohibitions in their ordinance, which might already include orders about smoking. It is recommendable that the ordinance will be confirmed and ratified in stockholders’ general meeting.
A new way to intervene in the damages which smoking causes, is to apply for a ban on smoking from the municipality. The housing company is able to get ban on smoking in balconies or in the yard, even indoors of condominiums. The precondition for the ban is, that the smoke spreads through constructions or for other reasons to other balconies, to the yard or into the condominium more often than only exceptionally. The ban does not apply to e-cigarettes.
The ban on smoking can be admitted only if it’s not possible to prevent smoke emanating in by renovating constructions. Also the possibility to prevent smoke drifting in must be given to the smoking stockholder himself.
The decision about banning smoking
The uniformity should be remembered when applying the ban on smoking. If smoking problem concerns only one stockholder in one balcony, but there are five identical balconies in the house from the point of view of smoke emanating, the ban on smoking should be applied to concern all the balconies.
There are no regulations in law about how decision making in banning smoking is divided, but such a significant matter must be taken to stockholders’ meeting. Stockholders should thus decide in annual meeting or in extra meeting, if the ban on smoking will be filed or not.
The law requires that apartment owners should be heard before making the application. This is recommended to be done on separate form in writing. The general meeting decides by majority vote whether to apply the ban on smoking. In practice after all that the house manager or the board makes the application to the municipality.
Supervising the ban
If the ban on smoking will take effect, the municipality controls that stockholders obey the ban. The rural district can impose penalty payment for stockholder who violates the ban. In practice supervising is tied to neighbours’ complaints to the municipality. The municipality does not initiatively supervise observing the ban.
The housing company can react to violation of the ban by taking the apartment in its control after giving a warning. When deciding about the procedure, it’s important to pay attention to all evidence in case of a dispute. If a stockholder decides to bring the matter to court, the company must prove that the ban has been violated. The threshold taking an apartment over is high.
The municipality can cancel the ban on basis of separate petition if circumstances have changed the way the ban has no more grounds.
If the housing company has tenants, it’s important to remember that the ban on smoking can be negotiable in rental agreement and so the petition to the municipality for banning will be unnecessary.