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Should I Allow My Tenants To Smoke?

By Rebecca Zhang

Choosing your location and actually buying a piece of real estate is one thing, but once you’ve invested, you’ve got another set of challenges ahead of you: choosing your tenants and managing the property.

There are many considerations landlords have to make when renting out their properties – in addition to finding a tenant who is financially suitable and will be able to make rental payments, you must consider their lifestyle. One point of contention between many landlords and tenants is the habit of smoking.

Thank you for not smoking

Many landlords are hesitant to allow smokers to live in their rental properties solely because of the strong smell tobacco leaves behind. Just as cigarette smoke clings to the clothes, hair and skin of an individual, it tends to seep into carpets, walls and even hardwood floors.

Many nonsmokers likely won’t be keen to live among this smell, so preparing for a non-smoking tenant may mean replacing carpets and repainting and finishing all surfaces.

Allowing them to light up

Then again, smokers need a place to live, too. By allowing smokers to live in your buildings, you may be able to attract a larger pool of candidates from which to choose.

If you want to allow smokers but would rather avoid the smell cigarettes leave behind, you could consider adding small porches, balconies or stoops to your property to make the rental more smoker-friendly.

Your tenant’s right to smoke

Smoking is one characteristic of a tenant you can be slightly choosy about, but be careful you are not breaking any of the anti-discriminatory laws in your tenant vetting process.

Tenants are protected from discrimination under state and federal laws, which say that no one may be barred from a rental property on the basis of race, sex, ability, marital status, age, sexual orientation or sexual preference.

However, landlords do have the right to reject a rental application on the basis of potential damage. Anything that may negatively impact the value of your investment, such as scratches on the floors from pets or the smell of tobacco smoke, are legally sound reasons to give for rejecting a tenant’s application.

It’s a good idea to advertise your property as smoking or non-smoking to focus your applicant pool and avoid having to turn down too many would-be tenants.


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