California's Biggest Landlord Bans Smoking in Apartments


smoking ban apartments First you couldn't smoke in your office. Then you couldn't smoke in restaurants or bars. Now your own apartment? The Towbes Group Inc., which owns 2,000 units in 13 apartment complexes in Santa Barbara, Calif., became the largest apartment group in the state to ban residential smoking.

In January, a new California law went into effect giving landlords and property managers the power to manage smoking in rentals. While the law was aimed at curbing secondhand smoke, the Towbes Group had another motivation: saving money.

Jim Carrillo, a Towbes vice president, told the Los Angeles Times that it costs twice as much to clean an apartment for the next renter if the previous tenant was a smoker. And since his group turns about 1,000 units a year, those costs add up quickly.

"You can mask it with paint, but in order to totally remove the residue, you have to scrape the walls," Carrillo said. He added that countertops and cabinets also need intense cleansing treatments.

For new tenants, the ban goes into effect immediately, but current tenants have until the end of the year to comply.

California isn't the only place legislating against smoking in apartments. New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed a new law that would require residential buildings to explicitly write policies addressing its smoking rules. "We're not trying to ban anything," Bloomberg said at a press conference. "I've always believed, as you know, that if you want to smoke, I think you should have a right to do so. But it kills you."

While the rule wouldn't prohibit smoking, Bloomberg admitted to the The Wall Street Journal that he hopes more buildings would become smoke-free.

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