Smoking & Rental Properties

“Yikes, my tenant is smoking inside his rental unit!  What can I do about it?” Some laws regulate smoking in shared areas, but what about rental properties? Smokers are not protected under the Fair Housing Act or any federal law. This means that as a landlord you have the right to prohibit smoking in your property. Specific regulations around smoking can vary from state-to-state. 

 

As a landlord, there are many factors to consider when renting to a new tenant one of them being whether or not to allow residents to smoke in the rental. 

 

Here is a list of factors to consider: 

Pros: 

  • Renting to smokers can increase the number of potential tenants. 

 

Cons: 

  • Risk of fire: Smoking can start fires or create cigarette burns. 
  • Stains: Cigarette smoke and nicotine can stain the walls and ceiling and turn them a slightly yellow color. 
  • Odor: Smoke gets into the paint, carpets. It is extremely difficult to get those smells out.
  • Health implications for future tenants: Toxins are absorbed by the walls, curtains, and carpets and the residues can have health implications for future tenants.
  • Multi-Unit properties: If the property is a multi-unit, one tenant smoking will lead to other tenants complaining about the smoke smell in their unit.

 

It is also important to note that damages caused by smoking are not considered normal wear and tear. So as a landlord you can charge the tenant for the damages.

 

Once you make your decision, make sure you add specific wording in your lease regarding the policy. If the lease does not mention anything about smoking, then you cannot enforce a no-smoking policy. If you are going to prohibit smoking in your unit, you must make it clear that you do not allow smoking of any kind. You should make it clear that you do not allow any kind of substance including tobacco, marihuana or e-cigarettes. E-cigarettes/vape can also leave behind a residue that can build up on your walls over time.

 

Can a tenant be evicted for smoking? 

Yes, a tenant can be evicted for smoking on the premises but only if the landlord has disclosed it in the lease agreement. Any tenant that violates the lease risks early termination of their tenancy or even eviction. It is important to point out that, as a landlord, you can’t add a new policy into a fixed-term lease before the lease expires. If the current lease is a month to month lease, you can add this provision into the lease; however, a 30-day notice must be given regarding the change. 

 

Model Smokefree Lease Addendum

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