Is it Legal for a Landlord to Establish a No Smoking Policy?

Posted on: November 13, 2010

Categories: Property Management

Author: buyfixandprofit

Q. I own and manage a medium-size apartment building. A few of my tenants have asked me to implement a “no-smoking” policy for the entire building, including individual units. Can I do this without getting into legal trouble?

no smoking2 300x256 Is it Legal for a Landlord to Establish a No Smoking Policy?

Landlords Ban Smoking in Rental Properties

Bottom line answer is YES.  Landlords are allowed to establish and enforce no smoking policies in their rental properties.  Landlords who have established smoke-free buildings have often met resistance from smokers, who claim their “right to smoke” is being infringed. These claims haven’t prevailed, nor have similar objections to municipal ordinances banning smoking in multifamily settings within the city limits.  Please check with your attorney to verify your local laws are no different.

When Should a Landlord Start Enforcing a No Smoking Ban?

How about right away?

Your tenants’ request is one of a chorus of demands by residents nationwide that they not be subjected to the effects of secondhand smoke. There’s little debate about the unhealthful consequences of breathing someone else’s smoke, which include lung cancer and cardiac disease.

The landlord might not even want to wait for tenant’s leases to expire before implementing this rule.  In today’s litigious society that we live in, I could see a tenant become ill and blame the smoke in your building.  You will have to involve your insurance company, and who knows how much time and money you’ll spend responding. And if they break their leases and leave on account of the smoke, you’ll have a hard time making them responsible for the rent you lose. Depending on the severity of the problem, they might have a solid case for saying that the building posed an unacceptable health risk, which legally excused them from honoring the lease.  Good luck defending against this in a pro-tenant county or state.

Another reason to establish a no smoking policy is that apartments where tenants are allowed to smoke cost more to maintain – a lot more, because removing the odor typically requires repainting, and professional cleaning of windows, carpets and draperies.  Also, cigarette smoking presents a fire hazard for which a landlord can be held liable, especially when a tenant smokes in bed.

See this Chicago Tribune article for more info by clicking the link below.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/realestate/apartments/ct-mre-1114-renting-20101112,0,5868201.column

What’s your opinion?  Should landlords start creating smoke free buildings?  Is the beginning of an increasing trend?  Personally I hate smoke and would complain like hell if I had to smell my neighbor’s second or third hand smoke on a daily basis.

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