Should I allow tenants to smoke in my properties?
As a general rule, landlords don’t allow tenants to smoke in their properties. But why is this – and should you consider relaxing the rule?
Smoking can cause damage to your property, from staining the walls, to lingering smells in soft furnishings and the possibility of burns, not to mention the potential fire risk!
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Once your smoking tenant moves out, it could take quite a lot of work to get the property back to a rentable condition, which is why most landlords are very firmly against tenants smoking.
Do landlords have the right to ban tenants from smoking in their property?
Yes, they do. As it’s your property, you have the right to ensure that your property is kept safe and in good condition when a tenant is in situ. Therefore, because of the damage that smoking can do, you are entitled to add a clause to the tenancy agreement forbidding this.
However, being more tolerant of smokers opens you up to more potential tenants, so you could consider:
- Allowing smoking outside. If your property has a garden, you could allow smoking in the garden, with some ground rules. These should include clearing up butts, so that the garden isn’t littered
- Allowing smoking on a balcony. Similarly to the garden, allowing smoking in outside spaces where inside walls, ceilings and furnishings can’t be stained or damaged
- Allowing vaping. Lots of people today use vapes, which come in a range of flavours/scents and don’t cause damage in the same way that cigarettes do. If you decide to allow vaping, you should make sure that the tenancy agreement is super clear that vaping only is allowed, not smoking
Should I allow smoking in my HMO?
In July 2007, the National Smoke Free Legislation came into effect that banned smoking in the common areas of shared accommodation, including:
You would be required by law to have the correct notices and signs displayed so that all of the tenants are made aware of these restrictions. You can download these signs from Smoke Free England.
This means that if you allowed smoking in your HMO, you could only allow it in their personal rooms and potential housemates may still dislike this and choose to live somewhere else where smoking is banned completely. So think about:
- Would other housemates be happy to share with a smoker?
- Would other housemates be happy to share with a smoker if they were only allowed to smoke in the garden?
- Would having a smoker in the house put someone off renting a room in your HMO?
With multiple people living together in a HMO, as a general rule, banning smoking is a good idea because you could be renting to someone with a lung condition who could be badly affected by secondhand smoke drifting from under doors or next door windows.
Can I keep part of the deposit if my tenant has been smoking?
Holding onto part or all of the deposit is always a tricky one, so it’s worth getting a professional inventory done before your tenant moves in.
Once your tenant moves out, you can have a professional check out, which will check the state of the property against your original inventory:
- Is there any staining?
- Are there any burn marks or smoke damage?
- Will soft furnishings need replacing due to smells?
If any of the above is found, you would have grounds to keep enough of the deposit to fix the damage and replace anything that needs replacing.
Should I just let my tenants smoke?
Well, there are restrictions if it’s a HMO, but if it’s not – that’s entirely up to you! However, smoking is a potentially dangerous habit that, at best, might leave stains on your walls and ceilings and, at worst, could cause a fire.
Most renters who smoke understand that they are unlikely to find a property where they’re allowed to smoke inside, so adding a no-smoking clause to your contract shouldn’t come as a surprise to them.
If you do decide to allow smoking inside your property, be sure to read the small print on all of your insurance policies, as you may find this could invalidate any claims for fire damage if caused by indoor smoking.