Over the years, the awareness of the dangers of smoking has extended beyond the smokers themselves to secondhand smoke risks. Given what we now understand about the dangers of secondhand smoke, it is getting much more difficult for smokers to find public places they can light up.
With the health dangers in mind, not to mention the problems smoking can pose to interior spaces, many landlords adamantly want the option to ban smoking in the property they rent out. Is this possible, and if so, what if anything needs to be taken into consideration?
Since smokers are not a protected legal class and there is no expressed legal right to smoke, states allow property owners to keep their properties smoke-free. Given this fact, you may need to screen prospective renters during the application process. First, ask the applicant if he or she is a smoker and if they intend on smoking on and in your property.
Of course, it doesn't take much for a prospective tenant to lie to you during the application process. It's for this reason that it is especially important that you address smoking in your lease agreement as a prohibited activity on your property and lay out the consequences for breaking this rule. If you do not include language in the lease that prohibits smoking, you will have little recourse as long as they stay current with their rental for the duration of the lease.
While secondhand smoke can pose health risks to people who live next door or people who must come onto the property while they are smoking, the problems for landlords extend beyond that. Smoking makes it nearly a certainty that carpet will need to be replaced. You may also need to repaint, since the smoke can seep into paint and into the drywall.
Smoking also poses a fire risk and can leave singe or burn marks on the property. As long as you clearly address your rules against smoking in the lease they sign, you can begin the process of evicting tenants from your property who do not comply.
There is also the possibility of meeting a prospective smoking tenant halfway. You may want to allow smoking, but only in a designated area outside the home.
For more on the subject, check out our blog on how to handle problem tenants, or contact Zenith Properties for more assistance.