It’s not illegal to smoke in your apartment, but you may have to look harder to find a landlord who will let you.
Landlords in Davis and Woodland are starting to restrict smoking inside private rental units, and the Woodland City Council has passed a resolution in favor of smoke-free apartments.
King Properties decided to prohibit smoking in all 300 of the apartments, duplexes, condominiums and houses it manages in Davis. Renters are asked to sign a binding no-smoking agreement as part of their lease, said company president Rebecca King.
“We’ve had very little opposition,” King said. “I was very surprised. We’ve even had residents who are smokers who said they are willing to sign it because they know they shouldn’t be smoking inside.”
King said the issue arose when the secondhand smoke from a heavy smoker in a downstairs unit irritated a resident in the unit above.
“The reason we decided to do this is because we really are concerned about the health and safety of our residents,” King said.
At least eight other apartment complexes in Davis have designated some percentage of nonsmoking units in the last year, according to a press release from the Yolo County Health Department.
In Woodland, the city council has taken on the issue. The council unanimously passed a non-binding resolution Apr. 15in support of landlords who designate at least 50 percent of their apartment units as smoke-free.
“I think most apartment owners want to have smoke-free housing because the maintenance cost to them is reduced,” said Woodland City Councilmember Jeff Monroe in an e-mail. “We are more concerned about the long-term health effects of secondhand smoke.”
Monroe said he believed the resolution will encourage more property owners tomake the leap to designating units as nonsmoking.
The council worked with the Rental Housing Association of Sacramento Valley to develop the resolution, which is the first of its kind in Yolo County.
“It’s a market-based, market-driven approach,” said Cory Koehler, the association’s deputy director and a UC Davis alumnus. “We support letting owners and managers decide what’s best at their property. If the customers are banging down the door saying, ‘I’m tired of people smoking,’ that is the market dictating how the service is going to be.”
Woodland is one of many California cities that have addressed the issue of smoking in multi-unit complexes. Some cities, such as Temecula, have passed ordinances requiring 25 percent of all apartment units to be smoke-free. Belmont passed a law last year requiring all landlords to include no-smoking clauses in all of their leases.
In Davis, however, the city council has not passed any resolutions or ordinances regarding smoking inside private rental units.
“Secondhand smoke is a toxic air contaminant,” said Steven Jensen, a program coordinator with the county health department. “People call me up and they’re quite surprised that in California in 2008 there are no laws protecting them in their apartments from secondhand smoke.”
According to the health department press release, 70 percent of Davis residents support completely smoke-free apartment housing units.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at email@example.com.