Smoke Free Housing for Landlords and Property Owners

Savings

Insurance Premiums: Smoke-free properties have a reduced risk of property damage from fire, water and smoke. This may result in a credit on insurance premiums.  Insurance companies have discretionary credits they can apply to a policy. Speak with your agent to promote your smoke-free property, as these credits aren’t automatically applied.

Resale: A recent study of real estate agents in Ontario, Canada, found that smoking can reduce a home’s resale value by 20 percent. The study was commissioned by Pfizer Canada, a pharmaceutical manufacturer. Selling the home can pose also post challenges. Eighty-eight percent of the agents surveyed say that it’s more difficult to sell a home where the residents were smokers.

Cleaning & Maintenance: Smoking causes extensive damage to apartments. The cost to turn-over an apartment rented by a smoker can be two to seven times greater than the cost of maintaining and turning over a smoke-free unit.

“When tobacco is burned, the smoke that is created does not simply dissipate when it gets released into the air. Instead, the particulate matter in the smoke forms a residue, often called “thirdhand smoke,” which is absorbed by porous surfaces like carpeting, drapes, and upholstery, while creating a sticky film on non-porous surfaces like walls, countertops, appliances, and fixtures.” –ChangeLab Solutions

Safety

A family of four perished in this fire in Manchester, NH. The official cause was that the fire stemmed from the simple improper disposal of a cigarette.Safety

Eliminate Damage and Death Caused by Fires

Smoking is the “leading cause of residential fire death in the United States.” according to the NFPA.

Second-Hand Smoke

  • No level of secondhand smoke (SHS) exposure is safe
  • SHS kills more than 400 infants and 41,000 adult nonsmokers every year
  • The home is the primary source of SHS exposure for children
  • Non-smokers exposed to SHS at home or at work increase their risk of developing heart disease by 25-30% and lung cancer by 20-30%
  • Tobacco smoke is one of the most common asthma triggers

Legality

It is legal to implement a smoke-free policy.  No state or federal law prohibits making a property smoke-free.  Smoking is a behavior not an inborn characteristic, so prohibiting smoking does not target any particular group and is not discriminatory. Smokers are not a protected legal class

Property owners can make decisions to protect their property.  Some may not allow pets while others may not allow smoking. They have the right to make these decisions when renting their property.

FAQ’s

  1. Do the tenants need to quit smoking to live in my rental units?
    No.  Tenants may continue to smoke, but must follow the lease rules and not smoke in the apartment or anywhere else written in the lease.
  2. Will a no smoking policy cause conflicts between residents?
    Having a smoke-free policy is often easier and takes less effort than mediating disputes between smokers and non-smokers without a policy in place.
  3. Will I lose residents?
    The numbers say no. Over 81% of adults in our region are non-smokers. A comprehensive study in Massachusetts polled property owners on the effects of implementing a smoke-free policy. 15% reported decreased vacancy rates and 77% reported no effect on vacancy
  4. How do I enforce a smoke-free policy?
    Give residents ample notice (3 months minimum) to prepare and adjust to the new policy.  Post signs in buildings and around the property to maintain compliance. Inform new residents. Respond to violations quickly and consistently as you would for any lease violation
  5. How far away from a building should smoking be prohibited?
    A standard often used is 25 feet away from a building.  However, each property is different and consideration should be given to your location, impact on neighbors, and surrounding buildings. CCTFC recommends property owners and managers consider adopting a 100% smoke-free policy, which includes all buildings and property.
  6. What about e-cigarettes or Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) and medical marijuana?
    Because ENDS are not FDA regulated and the aerosol is not as safe as clean air, CCTFC recommends that ENDS be included in smoke-free policies.
    Yes, property owners can prohibit the smoking of medical marijuana. 
    Federal law that governs reasonable accommodations in housing for people with disabilities precludes “ongoing illegal drug use.” Marijuana is still an illegal Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, which means that its use need not be accommodated, even if the tenant is certified to use it for medical purposes under state law.

 How to Go Smoke Free

The easiest way to implement a smoke-free policy is to make buildings 100% smoke-free as you develop them. Include explicit language in your lease that notifies incoming tenants of the policy.  “A smoke-free building is one in which smoking is not permitted indoors, including in any units or common areas. In addition, no outdoor smoking by the entrances, exits, vents and all windows helps to eliminate outdoor secondhand smoke from migrating into an indoor public area of the multi-unit housing, or a private unit. If playgrounds are on-property, making the area in and around the playground and any seating areas near the building smoke-free as well”.

Download the Property Owner’s Guide to Smoke Free Properties.

 The Simple Steps to Go Smoke Free

  1. Depending on the term of residents’ lease agreements, choose a start date or phased-in method.
  2. Decide if you will permit smoking outside. If so, will you have an area designated for smoking?
  3. Update your lease(s).
  4. Notify your tenants of the change.
  5. Have tenants sign the lease addendum.
  6. Post “no smoking” signs.
  7. Enforce the policy as you would any other condition of the lease. If a tenant smokes, it is a violation of the lease.

Start Date Method:

The “Start Date” method works best when residents are on month-to-month leases.  A date is chosen, usually three months in the future and the lease is updated to include new smoke-free language.

Phased-In Method:

The “Phased-In” method works best when residents are on fixed-term leases.  The resident’s sign on to the change as their individual lease renews.

 Services and Support

The Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities (CCTFC) offers free services and supports to help you with the new policy and environmental changes. CCTFC staff has more than 10 years experience implementing smoke-free policies.

Email: smokefreehousing@cheshire-med.com

Call: (603) 354-6513

Support for Property Owners and Managers 

Free Advertising: Property owners and managers can list their properties in a smoke-free directory.  The directory is advertised in digital and print media.  Realtors, insurance agents, and businesses in the Monadnock Region are notified of listings. Property Owners and Managers can choose to be included in notifications about progress for expanded smoke-free properties. Post your listing.

Air Quality Testing: Testing is as simple as plugging in a machine that can check the air quality at a given time or over a period of hours and days.  Testing can include a detailed graph illustrating the air quality in all areas of a property before the policy, after the policy, and as a means of compliance.

Assistance with Policy Implementation

  • Assistance with the creation of lease addendum, tenant notification letter, and for large apartment complexes, a sample tenant survey.
    • Sample Lease Addendum
    • Sample Tenant Notification Letter
    • Sample Tenant Survey

Signage: Smoke-Free Housing Signs will be provided to interested property owners and landlords upon request.

Support for Tenants

Going smoke-free does not mean banning smokers.  CCTFC offers a wide range of support to help tenants adapt to living with a smoke-free policy or who wish to quit smoking.

The Coalition sponsors an extensive array of treatment programs for those who wish to quit using tobacco, including:

  • Free one-on-one counseling
  • Assistance with nicotine replacement therapies (patches and gum)
  • Tobacco and addiction education

Services are available to everyone and we have special programs for women and youth.

  • Phone Support

Call Toll Free: 1-800-QuitNow (1-800-784-8669)
Free nicotine patches are available while supplies last!

  • Tobacco-Free or Trying to Be Support Group: Local support group is available for individuals who are maintaining a tobacco-free lifestyle and those who are trying to do so. FREE — No registration needed. Groups are held in Keene on the first Wednesday of every month from 5:30-6:30 pm at Cheshire Med Ctr./Dartmouth-Hitchcock Keene in Central Conference Room #3.
  • Tobacco Treatment Programs for Adults: “Freedom from Tobacco” sessions are offered several times during the year at our satellite clinic locations in Walpole and Winchester. We also provide support for patients on an individual basis.
  • Comfort Kits: Comfort kits are provided for individuals receiving confidential one on one counseling. The kits are filled with items to make it easier for people to live tobacco-free, and support them in the early stages of going tobacco-free.

**There is no charge for our programs. The Cheshire Coalition for Tobacco Free Communities is funded by the Cheshire Health Foundation. Our goals are to reduce youth initiation of tobacco products, to help anyone who wants to quit do so and to eliminate exposure to secondhand smoke.