How to Make a No Smoking Rental Agreement
What If There Isn't a Current No Smoking Arrangement?
If you're transitioning your leases from being able to smoke to a no smoking rental agreement, you may find that an instant transfer to the new policy could put you into a breach of contract situation. If you have existing units that are being rented and this is a new policy, it is a good idea to start a grandfathering process where you bring all of the agreement renewals into line with the new policy. New tenants can be immediately subject to the change in the agreement, but you likely won't be able to change existing agreements until they expire.
Just putting an agreement into a lease won't always get you off the hook as a landlord either, especially if you own multiple unit buildings. Best practices in this type of situation would dictate that you post up signs reminding people of the no smoking policy in any public place. That would include hallways, common areas, entrances/exits, and any other place where people may gather in your unit.
Why Define What Smoking Means?
With a full definition of what smoking really means to your premises, you'll eliminate many of the loopholes that tenants may find to continue the practice, even with a no smoking agreement in place. Typical agreements forbid inhaling or exhaling smoking or similar products, but naming cigarettes, cigars, smokeless tobacco, and other items that people may use is important to enforcing the agreement consistently. Even the e-cigarettes that use vapor instead of smoke may cause nicotine smells in a home and if they're not specifically banned, you may have problems enforcing the policy.
In addition to being specific about what smoking means, it is also important for a landlord to put into the agreement that they are not a guarantor of a smoke-free environment. You're simply having the tenant agree to the adoption of an environment that is smoke free. You need to make sure that you are taking the reasonable steps necessary to create and enforce a policy, but that you can't guarantee what people do in their own unit.
As a final step, make sure that you give everyone a copy of this policy in writing. You may also want to let other tenants become third-party beneficiaries in a large unit over smoking, which would mean tenants could sue other tenants about this policy. You'll also want specific information about what happens when this new no smoking policy is violated.
As you grandfather in your new policy, you'll create a smoke-free environment that will ultimately save you long-term cash. If you don't have this policy in place now, consider adding it right away to lessen your and your tenant's responsibilities for damage and repair.
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