Rental Apartment Buildings - EH: Minnesota Department of Health

Rental Apartment Buildings
Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act

The Freedom to Breathe (FTB) provisions amended the Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act (MCIAA) further protect employees and the public from the health hazards of secondhand smoke. These provisions went into effect on October 1, 2007. In 2019, the MCIAA was amended again to expand the definition of smoking to include vaping, the use of electronic delivery devices (also known as e-cigarettes or vapes). The amendment is effective on August 1, 2019.

Definition of Apartment Building

Rental apartment buildings are defined as buildings with 3 or more rented living units. Condominium and co-operative housing buildings are not regulated by the MCIAA.

Definition of “Smoking”

The MCIAA defines smoking as inhaling, exhaling, burning or carrying any lighted or heated cigar, cigarette, pipe or any other lighted or heated product containing, made or derived from nicotine, tobacco, marijuana, or other plant intended for inhalation. As of August 1, 2019, this definition includes carrying or using an activated electronic delivery device.

Definition of "Indoor Area"

“Indoor Area” means a space between a floor and a ceiling that is 50% enclosed by walls, doorways or windows (open or closed) around the perimeter. A wall includes retractable dividers, garage doors, plastic sheeting or any other temporary or permanent physical barrier. A (standard) window screen is not a wall.

No Smoking in Common Areas

Smoking and the use of electronic delivery devices is not allowed in indoor common areas of rental apartment buildings. Common areas are spaces that are or can be used by any of the tenants. Examples of these spaces include rental offices, laundry rooms, hallways, entrances, party rooms, exercise rooms, indoor swimming pool areas and public restrooms.

Individual Apartment Units

The MCIAA does not prohibit smoking in individual apartment units. However, the proprietor or property manager has the option of establishing and enforcing a more restrictive smoking policy for the property. These policies can ban smoking in individual rental units. If the building has a more restrictive policy it should be stated in the lease agreement. In addition, the federal government prohibits smoking in certain HUD housing.

Outdoor Areas

The MCIAA does not address smoking in outdoor spaces, regardless of the distance from building openings such as doors and windows. This includes outdoor features of apartment buildings such as decks or patios. The law does not regulate the drift of smoke from individuals smoking outdoors or in neighboring apartment units. Some cities and counties have local ordinances that restrict smoking by entrances.

Compliance and Enforcement

MDH has compliance authority over the MCIAA and may delegate compliance activities to local government. Complaints about alleged violations of the MCIAA can be directed to the MDH Indoor Air Unit at the contact information listed at the end of this factsheet. Failure to comply with the MCIAA can lead to enforcement action, including up to a $10,000 fine.

In addition to the compliance authority provided to MDH and local units of government, local law enforcement has the authority to issue petty misdemeanor citations to proprietors or individuals who knowingly fail to comply with the MCIAA. 

Local Government Ordinances

Local governments have the authority to adopt and enforce more stringent measures to protect individuals from secondhand smoke.

Retaliation Prohibited

An employer, manager or other person in charge cannot fire, refuse to hire, penalize, discriminate or retaliate against an employee, applicant, or customer who exercises any right to a smoke-free environment provided under the MCIAA.

Updated Thursday, 16-Sep-2021 11:24:10 CDT