San Francisco Rent Board Sides With Smokers In State Ordinance Disputes

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco landlords who want to ban smoking entirely on a property will not be able to evict a tenant who smokes if smoking was allowed in the apartment when the tenant signed a lease.

A city ordinance prohibits smoking only in common areas of apartment buildings, while a California law that takes effect Jan. 1 gives landlords the option of declaring an entire building a non-smoking property.

KCBS’ Barbara Taylor Reports:

A decision by the Rent Board this week siding with smokers was meant only as a stopgap until the city finds a better strategy for enforcing the new law, said executive director Delene Wolf.

“We have a public health issue that needs to be addressed,” she said. “Taking away people’s housing, that’s not the way to address it.”

In the meantime, landlords will be caught in the middle should a tenant complain about secondhand smoke from another unit in the building, said Janan New, executive director of the San Francisco Apartment House Association.

“As one person testified, they’ve protected a smoker ahead of someone who is pregnant and has the smoke as a health issue,” she said.

Wolf said the Rent Board would take another look at how to mediate conflicts between smokers and non-smokers early in 2012.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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