Here at the Fair Housing Defense Blog, your humble editor gets the most reader comments concerning two issues:  service animals and smoking.  If I publish a post dealing with either of these topics, it is likely someone is going to comment (nicely) or disagree (less nicely) with me.  Which is fine.  That readers actually pay attention to a blog discussing fair housing issues from management’s side is great.

Over the last couple of months, I published two posts on smoking and dealing with smoking-related accommodation requests.  I knew it was coming:  one reader thought my options were “terrible” and another wrote if anyone would follow it, he or she “would get sued.”  I sure hope not.  So, again risking your wrath, let’s try to review some issues:

*its negative health impact notwithstanding, smoking remains legal;

*smokers are not (and smoking is not) a protected class under the Fair Housing Act (FHA);

*more apartment communities are going “smoke free” and requiring new residents to sign leases which prohibit smoking, even in individual apartment homes;

*similarly, some communities are requiring residents renewing their leases to sign a “smoke free” addendum;

*other communities continue to permit smoking in apartment units, but prohibit it in common areas;

*if a non-smoker makes a medically verified reasonable accommodation request related to second hand smoke or allergies, management must work with the resident to find a solution;

*there are a number of (non-exclusive) potential solutions that management can (and should) offer as part of engaging in the interactive process;

*if, for whatever reason, solutions which involve the resident staying at the community will not work, another option is to permit the resident to terminate his or her lease early, without paying any early termination fees.

I hope this clears it up and makes sense.  You can always talk with a lawyer like me to review a specific factual circumstance.

Just A Thought.