Study after study that has been released since the 1980s exposes the health risks caused by secondhand smoke. With this knowledge, more tenants are seeking rentals where they will not be exposed to harmful cigarette smoke. The good news is landlords can ensure these tenants are protected by taking these steps to make their rental property a smoke-free environment.
1. Screen Out Smokers
Smoking is not a right, and as such landlords are permitted under law by most states to choose not to rent to smokers. During the application process, landlords can reject potential tenants who intend to smoke in their property. Consult with a Miami attorney specializing in landlord-tenant disputes to understand landlords’ rights in Florida.
2. Add Smoking Restrictions on Lease
Screening out tenants during the application process is a good initial step, but unfortunately some tenants will not be completely honest about their habits. This is when the lease agreement comes in. Landlords must address smoking within the lease agreement. They must include the rules regarding if or where tenants are allowed to smoke. For instance, a landlord may designate an area where it is permitted outside of the residence. Typically, this area will be located 10 feet or more away from the rental. Such restrictions and bans have to be written into the lease agreement in order to be enforceable. Tenants who do not comply can then be held accountable with penalties.
3. Create a Smoking Ban
Designating a rental property as a smoke-free environment is good for business. In multi-residence properties, secondhand smoke poses a danger to other tenants. Increasingly, landlords are faced with lawsuits by nonsmoking tenants who are affected by those who do. They often argue that the landlord failed to enforce the policy or to install an effective ventilation system. A smoking ban written in the lease agreement prevents these types of lawsuits.
A smoking ban will also ensure the landlord will not be responsible for any damage caused by the act. The most obvious damage is the increased likelihood of a fire. However, smoking can cause other property damage as well, such as burn marks and paint discoloration. It can also result in the need for pricey treatments and other expenses such as odor removal services, new ventilation system installations, and fabric and carpet cleaning or replacement.
4. Evictions are Possible
Another benefit of establishing a smoking ban or officially listing smoking rules in the lease agreement, is that if tenants fail to obey these limitations, landlords can start the eviction process. Tenants who smoke inside a rental property despite a smoking ban can be evicted due to a breach of contract or a violation of the lease. To properly address the issue, a landlord should send an official written notice to the wrongful individual, ordering him to cease the behavior or face legal action. If the order is ignored, a notice should be filed with the court system.
When dealing with lease violations, property damage, or eviction proceedings consult with a Miami attorney specializing in litigating and negotiating landlord-tenant disputes. Our team at Graham Legal can help you defend your rights as a landlord.
Call our Graham Legal team today for a free consultation.