Most owners of apartment buildings acknowledge that second-hand smoke is a common source of objectionable air. Many owners are tired of dealing with the fire danger and maintenance costs associated with smoking in their rental units. BUT... How does an owner proceed to implement a smoke-free policy? How many of your tenants with smokers allow residents and guests to smoke indoors?
You may have to conduct a survey, which will serve two purposes; gathering information and alerting tenants that change may be forthcoming.
Since most leases are for a year, you can implement a no-smoking policy about 12 months out. Notify tenants that you will be implementing a smoke-free policy by a certain date and if they wish to remain in the building, they will have to abide by the new policy.
Provide tenant with the reasons for making the change so they understand you are not being capricious. The reasons typically including a combination of health, safety and business concerns, such as:
Protecting your tenants from second hand smoke
Reducing the danger of fires
Reducing maintenance, cleaning and redecorating costs
Saving on insurance
Prudence dictates that you include language in your leases to make tenants aware of the policy and of their obligation not to smoke and prevent guests from smoking in their units. If you allow smoking on a specific part of the property, specify in the lease where smoking is allowed. Post signs throughout the property indicating the no-smoking policy and where smoking is allowed.
Enforcing the no-smoking policy will be critical to its success. Use the same amount of enforcement you use for other violation of rules, such as throwing loud parties or parking in prohibited areas. You may decide to issue one or two written warnings before you evict someone for breaking the lease. Failure to enforce the policy may also involve you in a lawsuit for breach of contract.
Establishing a smoke-free policy entails some effort. But it should also provide many benefits. You will be protecting the health and safety of your tenants and employees, reducing maintenance and redecorating costs and provides a more appealing environment for current and prospective tenants.