Berkeley to Pass Law for Evicting Smokers
On October 1, City Council rejected the long process between the Rent Board and the Health Commission and decided to draft new antismoking legislation on the fly. Staff has to come back with actual language, but it is very likely that Berkeley will make it legal to evict tenants for smoking cigarettes, even if the lease has allowed smoking for years.
The new laws will also apply to owners who live in multiunit buildings, for example an owner-occupied unit in a building which also has rental units, or a condominium. However, owners can’t be evicted, and tenants can!! The City Council keeps saying they want a law that can be enforced, but this latest plan puts the obligation to enforce the law onto landlords. Who will enforce the law against owners who smoke?
BTU hasn’t taken an official position, in part because the draft that was going to Council last week balanced concerns about protecting housing with the needs of those who are impacted by secondhand smoke. Now one big concern might be that the phase-in period for the law hardly gives long-term addicts the time to successfully quit. Also, landlords are far more likely to enforce the smoking ban against long-term tenants with controlled rents, while not acting to protect other residents from second-hand smoke if the smoker is paying a high price for his or her unit.
If you are concerned one way or the other, contacting Linda Maio would be a good place to start. It sounded like she is very in favor of the new rules to define smoking as a nuisance. Email her: lmaio@CityofBerkeley.info
Councilman Arreguin’s Explanation of His Concerns for Tenants:
Daily Californian Report on Council Meeting: