A lot of landlords find themselves in the difficult position of deciding whether or not to allow smoking in their rental properties. The costs of allowing smoking can be very high, and it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons. Ultimately, there are many significant “cons” of allowing smoking in rental properties, and only one potential “pro.” Let’s take a closer look at all the considerations – including the legal ones – and examine why most property managers choose not to allow smoking. Can you prohibit smoking on rental property in WA State?
Can you prohibit smoking on rental property in WA State?
Contrary to what some may believe, landlords are well within their rights to establish no-smoking rules. The right to smoke is not protected by the Fair Housing Act or any other federal or Washington State law, even in assisted housing. From a legal standpoint, refusing to rent to smokers is not discrimination because smoking is not a protected behavior.
Pros of allowing smoking
When landlords choose to allow smoking in their properties, it’s almost always for one reason: more applicants. When you allow smoking, it opens up your property to renters who only want to live in a place where they can smoke.
Is this worth it? For some, perhaps. But in most cases, the costs end up being too high. Still, it may be worth considering only if you have a hard time finding tenants otherwise or if you have an older property that you are intending on fully renovating in the years to come anyway.
Cons of allowing smoking
The costs associated with allowing smoking in your rental can be very high. That includes some major financial costs, as well as a lot of time, effort, and headaches. These are the cons of allowing smoking:
- Replacement and odor removal costs – Smoking leaves odors and residues behind that are often costly and time-consuming to eliminate. Everything from walls and doors to floors, shelves and cabinets will have to be re-painted and sealed with odor control products. Additionally, surfaces like carpeting, vinyl countertops, padding and curtains may have to be completely replaced. The costs often total $8,000 or more, according to some studies.
- Fires and damage – Allowing smoking in a rental property increases the risk of fire. Cigarettes can cause fires, and are even more likely to cause damage such as cigarette burns on carpets and other surfaces. Even minor burns usually require complete replacement.
- Health concerns – Secondhand smoke can become a health concern for neighboring tenants. Landlords who allow smoking often find themselves overwhelmed by complaints from nonsmoking tenants, which can be difficult to deal with. There can also be health concerns stemming from toxins and carcinogens left behind in the environment, often referred to as thirdhand smoke.
- High tenant turnover – Landlords sometimes choose to allow smoking with the idea that it will allow them to rent to a wider range of tenants. But in many cases, the opposite turns out to be true. While a property that allows smoking might be appealing to some, it’s also a turnoff for others – especially when you consider that only 13.5 % of adult Washingtonians still smoke cigarettes. Smoking properties often experience a higher turnover rate, along with difficulty finding new tenants. A lot of people simply don’t want to rent a unit in which the previous tenant smoked.
Contact us today to learn more about why most property managers deem the costs of smoking in rental properties to be too high. If you’re looking for help making hard decisions for your rental property, our team of property management professionals is here to help every step of the way.