It seems that smokers are having more and more trouble finding places to light up these days. They can’t smoke at work, or in most other public places, like bars and restaurants. Some municipalities are banning smoking in outdoor parks and other public places, too. Seems like his or her own home will soon be the only place a smoker can legally smoke. Unless they live in a no-smoking rental property.
Is that the case for your rental properties? Are your tenants allowed to smoke in their units, or in common areas? For an increasing number of landlords, the answer is “no.” It’s not so much the smokers’ health that landlords are concerned about—it’s the health of the rest of tenants, including children, who are subjected to second-hand smoke.
If you’re ready to ban smoking in your rental properties, you might experience some pushback from smoking tenants. Smoking is legal, after all. But landlords are within their rights to ban many legal activities, such as owning a pet, playing loud music or operating a business from home.
In many states, laws are changing to specifically state that landlords may adopt no-smoking policies. And some cities have instituted smoking bans on multiunit properties.
A new no-smoking policy generally requires 30 days’ notice before it can go into effect. A tenant with a current lease cannot be subjected to the ban until the lease expires and they sign a new one.
If you’re going smoke-free, think about how you’ll handle your policy. Will you include all units as well as common areas? Will smokers be allowed to smoke in a far corner of the property, or in an isolated area of the parking lot? How will you handle violators? If you own several buildings, would you convert some to smoking and the rest to non-smoking?
There are several ways to approach it, but encouraging tenants to give up smoking is good for everyone. After all, if you won’t subject a tenant to a neighbor’s noise, why would you want to subject him or her to a neighbor’s second-hand smoke?