Benefits of transitioning your apartment building to smoke-free
Smoke-free apartment buildings are becoming increasingly more prevalent and recent studies show that they are becoming the preference for a majority of renters. These trends come as no surprise, as the serious health effects of secondhand smoke are better understood.
Developing No-Smoking Policies
Apartment owners in every state are free to ban smoking in their rental properties, just as they are free to ban pets or loud music. Instead of worrying about the smoker, the more critical legal worry for owners and managers should be liability for health problems caused by secondhand smoke.
In the words of one court: “There is no more a fundamental right to smoke cigarettes than there is to shoot up or snort heroin or cocaine or run a red light” Fagan v. Axelrod, 550 N.Y.S. 2d 552 (1990)). For details, see Samantha Graf, Tobacco Control Legal Consortium, “There is No Constitutional Right to Smoke” (2005), which is available at www.tobaccolawcenter.org.
- Reduced Cleaning Costs: A unit that has been inhabited by a smoker requires significant cleaning before a new tenant can move in. Keeping units smoke-free will reduce cleaning costs and save you time and labor, if you are cleaning the unit yourself.
- Lower Insurance Premiums: Insurance companies may be willing to offer a discount on your insurance, if you own and operate a non-smoking apartment building.
- Reduced Fire Risk: Allowing smoking in your building raises the risk of fires due to careless smokers. Fires are not only dangerous they affect your bottom line, because of the cost of fire damage repairs and a possible increase in your insurance premium.
Tips for Making the Transition
- Advertise the apartments as smoke-free to attract residents who do not smoke or who smoke only outside. Inform prospective residents of the no-smoking policy when showing the apartment.
- Put the no-smoking rule in the lease agreement and highlight the rule for residents as they sign their leases. For existing residents, request that they sign a no-smoking lease addendum. Click here to see the sample “Lease Addendum”
- Post “No Smoking” signs in the building and around the community and we will provide you with free signage.
- Inform residents that smoking in their apartments will expose them to financial obligations for bringing the apartment back to rentable condition. Click here to see “Tenant Notification Letter”
- Use the same warning and enforcement methods for smoking rule violations that are used for other community rules.
- To accommodate residents who do smoke and who are in good standing, consider providing a designated outdoor smoking area. The space should be at least 25 feet away from windows and doors. Clearly mark the area to help avoid confusion.
UNITS magazine, published by the National Apartment Association (NAA). December 2007.http://www.tcsg.org/sfelp/UnitsDec2007.pdf