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Rule Forbids Couple To Smoke In Their Own Home
Judge Upholds Homeowners' Association Order

The Denver Channel | November 18, 2006

GOLDEN, Colo. -- A judge has upheld a homeowners association's order barring a couple from smoking in the town house they own.

Colleen and Rodger Sauve, both smokers, filed a lawsuit in March after their condominium association amended its bylaws last December to prohibit smoking.

"We argued that the HOA was not being reasonable in restricting smoking in our own unit, nowhere on the premises, not in the parking lot or on our patio," Colleen Sauve said.

The Heritage Hills #1 Condominium Owners Association was responding to complaints from the Sauves' neighbors who said cigarette smoke was seeping into their units, representing a nuisance to others in the building.

In a Nov. 7 ruling, Jefferson County District Judge Lily Oeffler ruled the association can keep the couple from smoking in their own home.

Oeffler stated "smoke and/or smoke smell" is not contained to one area and that smoke smell "constitutes a nuisance." She noted that under condo declarations, nuisances are not allowed.

The couple now has to light up on the street in front of their condominium building.

"I think it's ridiculous. If there's another blizzard, I'm going to be having to stand out on the street, smoking a cigarette," said Colleen Sauve.

For five years the couple has smoked in their living room and that had neighbors fuming.

"At times, it smells like someone is sitting in the room with you, smoking. So yes, it's very heavy," said condo owner Christine Shedron.

The Sauves said they have tried to seal their unit. One tenant spent thousands of dollars trying to minimize the odor.

"We got complaints and we felt like it was necessary to protect our tenants and our investment," said Shedron.

The Sauves said they would like to appeal the judge's ruling but are unsure if they have the money to continue fighting. They said what goes on behind their closed doors shouldn't be other people's business.

"I don't understand. If I was here and I was doing a lawful act in my home when they got here, why can they say, 'OK, now you have to change,'" said Colleen Sauve. "We're not arguing the right to smoke as much as we're arguing the right to privacy in our home."

Other homeowners believe, as with loud music, that the rights of a community trump the rights of individual residents. The HOA is also concerned that tenants will sue those homeowners for exposure to second-hand smoke and this could be a liability issue.

The couple said that they would like to unload their condo and get out of the HOA entirely, but they are not sure if the real estate market is right.

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