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Commonly Asked Legal Questions For Common Interest Communities (CIC's)

Definitions | Policy Adoption | Residents Who Smoke | Policy Enforcement | Minnesota Laws Resources

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The movement to adopt smoke-free policies for multi-unit residential properties has progressed quickly for rental apartments, but CIC's are just starting to catch up. Smoke-free policies are legal for common interest communities in Minnesota and can be adopted in a couple of ways. The policies can include all areas of the building, including individual units, common areas and outdoor areas. For a sample smoke-free policy and other resources, please visit our CIC Policy Adoption Tools tab.

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Definitions

Common Interest Communities (CIC's)- The term "common interest communities" covers three types of properties in Minnesota- condominiums, cooperatives, and planned communities. These types of properties are characterized by having owners of the properties share some financial responsibility for administration and maintenance of the property and the shared elements.

Governing Documents- The governing documents for common interest communities in Minnesota include the declaration (sometimes called the "covenants, conditions, and restrictions or CCR's), the bylaws and the rules and regulations.

Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act- This state law governs all aspects of administering common interest communities in Minnesota. The Act statute number is Minn. Stat. 515B (2014).

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Policy Adoption
"Can our homeowner's association adopt a smoke-free policy?

Yes. Smoke-free policies can be adopted by homeowners associations to cover resident activities on the property, including within individual units. The policy can be adopted by one of two methods- either an amendment to the declaration, or a change to the rules and regulations. The policy will be stronger if adopted through an amendment to the declaration, and less likely to be changed by a court or by a vote of the board of directors of the association.

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Residents Who Smoke
What about current smokers?

"Grandfathering" (allowing some current residents to be exempt from the policy) is not required when implementing a smoke-free policy. Some associations are choosing to grandfather current smoking residents because they feel it is a fair approach, or because without this provision, the association could not pass any smoke-free policy.

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Policy Enforcement
"How is the policy enforced?"

The smoke-free policy should be enforced in the same manner as are any other infractions of use restrictions imposed upon owners. Generally, this means that residents who violate the smoking policy could receive warning notices, fines, and ultimately a lien on their property.

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Minnesota Laws
"What does the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act cover as far as common interest communities?

The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act prohibits smoking in indoor public places and places of employment. The law's definition of "public places" and "places of employment" could cover some areas of a condominium, such as a model unit shown to prospective buyers (public place)  or any maintenance rooms (places of employment). State law does not regulate the common areas of condominiums (unlike rental apartments); common areas in common interest communities are considered part of the private residents. Associations should consider including common areas in their smoke-free policies.

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Legal Materials Dedicated to Smoke-Free Housing Policies in CIC's

A law synopsis by the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium that discusses legal options available to CIC owners who are being exposed to drifting secondhand smoke.

 

If you have legal questions about your specific situation, you can contact Live Smoke Free or seek legal assistance. We have created a directory of legal resources that may be able to help you. More information regarding legal rights can be found at the Public Health Law Center's website.

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