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  July 2006 Question of the Month: Why Smoking Burns Up Your Rental Property Income -Click Here for More Articles-   

Why Smoking Burns Up Your Rental Property Income
by Manuel Lopez

Q: I am in the process of getting one of my rentals ready to show for new tenants. The previous tenants left under goods circumstances… they paid on time, respected the lease and kept the place in reasonable condition. My problem is that they were heavy smokers. At first I didn’t notice it but as I worked on the unit I found myself having to deal with a yellowish oil that has built up on everything… the blinds have to be washed several times, I could not wash the residue off the walls and was forced to repaint the entire interior. The smell in the house was even stronger than the cat urine I removed from other rentals.  I did not recoup the extra costs of the fix-up because I did not feel that I could prove the damages. Do you have any advice for handling smokers in the future?

A: The costs of having smokers within your property, whether it is guests of the renters and/or the renters themselves, can prove to be significant. In addition to the problems described above in your question, landlords have to deal with:
1. Cigarette burns on the carpet, appliances and counters.
2. Cigarette butts littered in the yard and parking area.
3. If a landlord has multiple unit apartments, other tenants may have to deal with their own unit and clothes smelling like smoke if it gets into the ventilation system. This alone can hamper the efforts landlords make to retain residents – leading to increased costs in resident turnover.
4. A significant increase of risk from cigarette related fires. Here are some interesting facts from the National Center for Health Statistics :
- Cigarettes are the leading cause of fatal fires in the United States.
- Cigarettes are responsible for about 25% of all fire deaths. 
- Cigarette caused fires kill approximately 1,000 Americans each year.
- Cigarette caused fires injure another 4,000 Americans each year.
- Cigarette caused fires cost approximately $4 Billion per year in the U.S.
- More than one third of all cigarette-related fire injuries and deaths occur in innocent children and adults who do not smoke.

Consider Implementing A Smoking Policy For Your Rental Property 
Many landlords view smoking as they do pets. Some ban it all together by restricting it in the lease and  by including “No Smoking” on property signage. Many go further by stipulating in the lease that tenant is solely responsible for all damages resulting from not enforcing the “no smoking” clause to the residents and visitors to the property. This would include burns, stains, odors and other damages resulting from smoking.

Other landlords choose to allow smoking with an additional deposit similar to a pet deposit. These deposits range from $500-$1000 per smoker. Another method is to add a $50-$100 monthly surcharge labeled “Smoking Permit”.  If you allow smoking, it is recommended that landlords insist on tenants obtaining renters insurance to protect from the increase risk of fire. Landlords should also confirm with their insurance agent that they are completely covered for fire damages.  


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