Landlord FAQ + survey stats: Download PDF (35K)
1) What is a smoke-free residential building policy?
- Smokefree policies are a means for landlords/management companies to prohibit tenants and others from carrying or using a lit tobacco product anywhere within multi-unit residential buildings, including places where people live.
- Some policies extend the restriction to include balconies, terraces, gardens and other outdoor areas connected with the property.
2) Are smoke-free housing policies legal?
- Yes. Because the US Constitution does not guarantee a right to smoke, prohibiting smoking in multi-unit dwellings is legal.
- Smokers are not a protected class. As a result, smokefree housing policies are not discriminatory.
- Landlords may write clauses into new leases or lease addendums that prohibit smoking.*
- Smokefree housing policies are not made to evict smokers, but to prohibit the act of smoking anywhere in the building.
3) Does the right to adopt smokefree policies extend to affordable housing?
- Yes. In fact, a newly released memo from HUD (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) encourages smokefree policy adoption in affordable housing managed by local housing authorities.*
- Smokefree housing policies can apply to Section 8 housing (federally subsidized buildings or units within private buildings for low-income and elderly tenants who carry Section 8 status), by making a rule change.
- Smokefree policies can be implemented in publicly funded residential buildings, Section 8* buildings and Section 8 units at lease renewal or any time during the term of an existing lease if tenants are provided with adequate notice.*
- See also (Smoke-free Environments Law Project):
• Housing Authorities/Commissions which have adopted smoke-free policies. Nov 2008 (PDF, 39K)
• Analysis of the authority of Housing Authorities and Section 8 multiunit housing owners to adopt smoke-free policies in their residential units. May 2005. (PDF, 62K)
4) What about Enforcement?
In most cases smokefree policies are self-enforcing.When not, smoking violations should be treated as any other lease or rule violations.*
- Speak to the tenant regarding the violation.
- Provide written notice with expectation of compliance.
- Move to evict if the tenant continues to violate the terms of the lease.*
- Consult your attorney about eviction proceedings.