Why go smoke-free?
As a serious health hazard, smoking sets you up for potential complaints and even lawsuits. Plus, indoor smoking can have lasting damage on your property, for which you’ll likely end up responsible. Read on to see how you, as a landlord, can minimize the effects of secondhand smoke on your assets and your tenants.
Remember: The worse smoking is for your tenants, the worse it is for you.
Three Steps to Implementing a Smoke-Free Policy
Going officially smoke-free is the only way to truly protect yourself, your building, and your tenants from the dangers of tobacco use. While you may receive backlash from your smoking tenants, it is your right — and in everyone’s best interest — to ban smoking in your properties.
Develop Your Policy
Be sure to be as detailed as possible, and at a bare minimum, include the following:
- List of the places where smoking is and is not allowed
- Individuals the policy applies to (tenants, guests, staff, service people, etc.)
- Those responsible for enforcing the rule
- Consequences for violations
- Effective date of the policy
- Definition of smoking
- Whether to have a designated smoking area outside (make sure the designated area is located 25 feet away from doors, windows, and major walkways)
Things to remember:
Opening a new building as smoke-free is easy. But with existing buildings, you may need to phase in the policy as leases are renewed. You may want to survey tenants to gauge their feelings on the matter.
Announce Your Policy
There are various ways you can announce your new policy, and some may work better for you based on your relationship with tenants, typical style of communication with tenants, and the basis on which you’re able to alter lease terms. They include:
- Holding a meeting
- Sending memos to tenants
- Talking to individual tenants
- Posting flyers in the halls
- Giving tenants at least 30 days’ notice (60 to 90 is better)
- Pointing out the rule when tenants sign or renew their lease
- Posting signs and stickers in your building
- Marketing your building as smoking-restricted
Enforce Your Policy
Enforce your smoking restrictions just as you would any other rule.
- Give tenants advance notice.
- Explain the rules when prospective tenants tour the property.
- Explain the smoking restrictions again when tenants sign their lease or lease renewal.
- Market your property as smoking-restricted.
- Post signs and stickers in smoking-restricted areas.
- Train your management and maintenance staff on smoking restrictions and make sure they understand that these restrictions are a priority.
- Consider creating a designated outdoor area for smoking if you think it would help with compliance.
- Move receptacles for smoking materials as well as applicable signs to a reasonable distance (25 feet) from building entrances, windows, and ventilation intakes.
Here, you’ll find additional tools to help you learn about smoke-free environments, develop and implement your policy, and communicate with tenants.
A compilation of smoke-free housing toolkits and guidanceUse in addition to what you’ll find on this page.
Compilation of smoke-free housing surveysStudies with findings in support of smoke-free housing.
Model smoke-free housing lease addendumUse to adjust terms of leases when implementing your policy.
Model press release for announcing smoking restrictionsUse at your discretion.
Model resident notification letterFor early, effective, and amicable communication.
Model warning letterUse as a template and feel free to adjust.
Sample tenant surveyUse to gauge interest and opinions when deciding whether to go smoke-free.
Tenant handoutUse for less-formal communication with tenants.
Smoke-free posterUse to spread the word about your smoke-free policy to tenants and visitors.
Infiltration of secondhand smoke into condominiums, apartments, and other multiunit dwellingsLaw synopsis by the Tobacco Control Legal Consortium.