Over 28 million adults in the United States currently smoke cigarettes. With the number of people smoking on a daily basis, it can be difficult to find tenants who don’t smoke. This is why it’s important to create a no-smoking policy for your rental housing.
A no-smoking policy will ensure your tenants and their guests don’t smoke on your premises. This reduces the secondhand smoke in the area and will also cut down on smoke complaints from other tenants.
You’ll be able to enforce your policy and if someone breaks it you have the right to take further steps. Gone are the days when you have to spend hundreds of dollars having your rental units deep cleaned to ensure there are no traces of smoke left in the building once a tenant moves out.
While a no-smoking policy might deter some potential tenants from applying to rent your space, there are tons of people that will jump at the chance to live in a smoke-free environment.
Setting up a no-smoking policy takes some time and know-how, so keep reading to find out how you can keep your rental property smoke-free.
Smoking Policies and the Law
When it comes to smoking policies they either restrict smoking in public areas or ban smoking completely. Before you instate a new smoking policy you need to see if there are any smoking laws in your state that you need to know about. Each state has different laws, so make sure you specifically check those in the areas of your rental units.
You are allowed to ban smoking. Having a no-smoking policy doesn’t violate Fair Housing Law, so you don’t have to worry about being sued for implementing a smoke-free area. There is no federal or state law that protects people’s right to smoke wherever they want to.
The use of some substances like marijuana and tobacco is regulated by federal smoking laws, specifically when it comes to their use in public spaces.
The use of marijuana is illegal in some areas, even with a medical license. This means that even possessing this substance exposes the tenant to legal action. But even if smoking marijuana is legal in your area, a no-smoking policy doesn’t discriminate based on the substance.
Tobacco on the other hand is legal and isn’t restricted. While there are some laws and restrictions in certain areas prohibiting people from smoking in public areas or multi-family buildings, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to enforce a no-smoking policy if they want the area to remain smoke-free.
How to Create a Smoking Policy
Before you create a policy you need to make sure you’re complying with all applicable laws. Your policy can’t force someone to do something that is protected by law, this is why it’s important that you do your research beforehand. Once you’re sure your policy complies with all applicable laws you can start adding your policy to the rental agreement.
To create a policy you need to first iron out all the details. In this step, you need to decide how strict or lenient you’re going to be.
This step is where you decide things like if the entire property will be smoke-free, or if you’re going to create an area where tenants can go to smoke.
You also need to decide what the consequences will be if people violate your no-smoking policy. This is where you’ll generally consult with lawyers or property management services to help you decide on the consequences.
Next, you need to decide what classifies as smoking under your policy. If you include electronic cigarettes and marijuana in your policy you need to make it clear that alternatives to traditional cigarettes are also covered in your policy. You don’t want to leave any loopholes in your policy.
You also need to make sure your current tenants sign an addendum to their leasing agreement. Without a signed addendum you won’t be able to enforce your policy on your current tenants, only new ones.
Once you’ve created your policy and added it to your rental agreements you need to make sure you’re clearly communicating this policy to any potential new tenants as well as your current tenants. Make sure you share this policy with your current tenants in writing so that they can clearly see what is expected of them once the policy goes into effect.
It’s a good idea to leave time for tenants to ask questions about the policy before it goes into effect. This leaves you all with extra time to iron out any issues that pop up along the way.
When advertising your property to potential tenants it’s a good idea to be upfront about your policy. Adding a section on the ad stating that the property is 100% smoke-free will save you time and effort when it comes to dealing with the potential tenant pool.
Enforce the Rules
Finally, you have to be prepared to enforce the rules if someone goes against your policy. If you simply allow people to smoke even with the policy in place then it won’t do any good.
The consequences you decided on in the beginning need to be enforced. If you decided that smoking will make the tenant lose their security deposit, you have to stick to it. This money can then be used to deep lean the area to get rid of any traces of smoke.
Create a No-Smoking Policy
If you want to keep your property smoke-free you need a no-smoking policy. Without one you have no guarantee that your tenants or potential tenants aren’t smoking in your rental units. So save yourself the hassle of dealing with smoke complaints and create a no-smoking policy.
If you’re looking for a rental management service that can balance the needs of the tenants with the interests of the owners, contact us today. At Reedy & Company, we take pride in providing best-in-class advice as we help individuals, businesses, and institutions make better property decisions.