In the UK, more than 7 million people smoke. The number is going down from year to year, and there is so much information about why it’s good to stop smoking that more people will soon give up the habit.
But it’s likely that at some point you’ll find the perfect tenant for your property, except for one thing: they smoke. Even though 14.7 percent of people smoke regularly, only about 7 percent of rental properties actively welcome smokers.
If landlords had a different attitude, they might be able to rent to more people. But they have good reasons to worry about things like lingering smells, damage to furniture, and the chance of a serious fire. And it’s easy to see why this makes landlords less likely to put “smokers welcome” on their online ads.
So where do you and other landlords stand? Can you stop people from smoking in a rented property? Find out by reading on.
Laws About Smoking In A Rented Property
If you don’t want your tenants to smoke, there aren’t many laws to back you up.
Under the Health Act of 2006, smoking was banned in all places that were “open to the public” as of April 2007. It applies in many places, like bars, restaurants, and workplaces, and its goal is to make smoking less harmful.
But it only applies to privately rented property if it’s an HMO. It can’t be used to enforce a no-smoking rule in a self-contained apartment or house.
If you rent out HMOs, you can say that smoking in a rented property isn’t allowed in places like hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms that are used by everyone. You’ll also need to put up the right signs to let tenants know what they need to do.
Since your decision will be backed by the law, it should be easy to make it happen. If you do let people smoke in these places, you will be breaking the law and could be charged or given a fine by your local government.
So, landlords have every right to ask tenants who break this law to leave if they don’t follow it.
Smoking In A Rented Property And Tenancy Agreements
So, if you don’t want to allow smoking in a rented property but there are no rules to back that up, what are your options for places that aren’t HMOs? It all depends on your lease and how much you trust your landlord.
You can take steps right from the start of marketing your property to keep tenants from smoking: Make it clear in all of your ads that you will only rent to people who don’t smoke.
During the viewing, look for signs that the potential renter smokes, or ask your agent to look for them. Check for yellowed fingers and teeth in addition to the obvious smell of tobacco, which can be hard to hide.
Remind everyone who comes to look that smoking is not allowed, and pay close attention to what they say. Some people may lie a little bit.
Add a clause to the rental agreement that says tenants and visitors are not allowed to smoke anywhere on your property.
Even if you try hard, it may not help. The big problem here is how to make it work. So, what can you do if your tenant breaks their word and doesn’t follow the rules of the lease?
The first thing you can do is politely remind them of their promise and ask them to stop. Invite them to smoke outside if you want to keep things as good as possible with them.
If this doesn’t work, you can use one of the fault-based reasons for getting rid of an assured tenancy: Ground 12: The tenant broke one or more of the tenancy agreement’s rules, except for the one that said they had to pay rent. But this can only be enforced if a court decides to do so, which isn’t likely to happen if the tenant pays rent on time every month and would be expensive.
If your renter won’t stop smoking, you could use their security deposit to pay for any damage they cause. You might want to spend it on a deep clean by a professional to get rid of any stains on the walls and furniture. For this to work, there would need to be a thorough inventory at the beginning of the tenancy.
You could also raise their rent at the end of a fixed term to make up for any damage that occurred from someone smoking in a rented property.
What About E-Cigarettes?
Even though the number of people who smoke is going down, the number of people who vape is going up. Over 3 million people in the UK now use e-cigarettes.
More and more people who used to smoke are now vaping, but can they do it in your home? There is no law that applies, so it’s up to you if you want to let it happen or not. E-cigarettes don’t have the same bad smell or fire risk as regular cigarettes because people inhale nicotine in the form of vapour instead of smoke.
You can say in the lease that it’s not allowed, just like you can say that smoking isn’t allowed, but it will be harder to explain, find, and prove. And if you do let them do it but don’t let them smoke, you might turn off your tenants who smoke because they have to go outside to do it.
To let people smoke or not to let people smoke. Only the landlord can tell you the answer to that question. If you want to keep your property smoke-free, the best thing you can do is find an honest tenant who won’t be smoking in a rented property.