How Do You Deal With a Tenant Smoking?

Written By PropertyLoop
February 17, 2021

Official statistics say that only around 14.7 per cent of the population are regular smokers – and only seven per cent of rental properties will welcome them. That’s a shame because by stating that you don’t take smokers as tenants, you are narrowing the field in terms of tenants. And whose to say that just because a person smokes they aren’t a fabulous tenant? 

But then, for landlords, having a regular smoker in their property can prove a bit of a nightmare. There’s that lingering tobacco smell, for instance, and which doesn’t go just because your tenant does; it sticks to the cushions, curtains and carpets.  There is also the possibility of your tenants falling asleep and causing a burn in the sofa, bed clothing or – worse – a fire in the flat. It’s not too hard then to understand why many landlords state ‘no smokers’ on their advertisements. 

Can landlords stop tenants smoking? PropertyLoop

Can landlords Stop Tenants From Smoking? 

The Health Act 2006 outlawed smoking in public premises such as pubs, restaurants, shops and workplaces. The point was to limit the damage caused by smoking to members of the public. The legislation came into effect 12 months later.  

The law does apply to private rented property – but only if it is a House of Multiple Occupation (HMO). This could be a student flat, property for a handful of young professionals etc. In other words, there are more than one family living in it – several members of the public, in fact. It can’t be used for a self-contained flat.  

You could put up signs in a shared kitchen, bathroom, hallway etc stating that smoking isn’t permitted in these communal areas. If a tenant did smoke in these areas he could be fined by the local council and asked to leave the property as a result of breaking the law. 

How Do Landlords Enforce No Smoking?

Landlords will typically find success in upholding a no smoking policy across their rental portfolio through the addition of a no smoking clause within the tenancy agreement. Whilst this of course would give the owner of the rental property the ability to evict any tenants that are found to be in breach of the policy, it is unlikely the decision will be upheld in court unless the occupants are found to be in multiple violations of the tenancy agreement. With this being said it could tempt the landlord to serve the tenant with a section 21 notice, meaning that the owner will reclaim possession of the rental property once the fixed term has come to a close.  

How to Avoid Getting a Tenant Who Smokes

For many landlords it is far simpler to avoid the inevitable dispute with their occupants surrounding tenancy deposit deductions and simply advertise their rental opportunity exclusively for those that do not smoke. This is typically done through simply asking while the applicants are completing their initial viewing of the rental, allowing both parties to know if they are the right fit for the tenancy from the get-go.  

Can I Charge My Tenant For Smoking? 

Commenting on the rental property owner’s liability for the costs of their tenants smoking within the property, Calum Brannan, CEO of Howsy explained, “You shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of your property being devalued by the effects of smoking and if you’ve been clear from the offset, there’s no reason they should be smoking in your property.” 

As can be expected many landlords will seek to recoup the costs of replacing any damaged furnishings and appliances through deductions being made from the amount of the tenancy deposit that is returned to the tenant. To the relief of many rental property owners that deal with smoking occupants, any damage that is caused through smoking will not be considered normal wear and tear and can therefore be deducted from the deposit. However, landlords will be prohibited from charging the tenant a higher deposit or higher rental fee simply because they smoke.  

What if Your Tenant Uses E-Cigarettes?

There are around three million people in the UK who currently vape (use e-cigs). This is a recent thing and as such, legislation really hasn’t caught up. In other words, there is none. It’s up to you whether or not you’re ok with your tenant vaping in your property.  

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