Smokefree Housing Enforcement
It's Easier than You Think

No-smoking policies are not targeting smokers.  Their purpose is to protect the property from damage and fire danger, as well as to help protect all residents from secondhand smoke exposure.  The overall goal is to provide a safe, clean, socially responsible living environment for all residents.

Watch a pre-recorded webinar on WHY and HOW to adopt a no-smoking policy. Hear from Jim Wiard, previously of Guardian Management, about how they successfully implemented their policy.

Steps to Communicate and Enforce the No-smoking Policy
These steps below were developed with generous contributions from Guardian who led the way in adopting no-smoking policies (download this enforcement toolkit)

Download Enforcement steps with TIPS from successful property managers

  1. Market the no-smoking rule to prospective residents as an amenity.  Make sure that “smokefree” or “no-smoking” is included in all advertising.  Remember 70% of Oregon renters want a smokefree unit. 

  2. Put the rule in writing - Incorporate the no-smoking policy into the written lease through a No-Smoking Addendum or House Rules.  Make sure all new and current residents are aware:
    • where smoking is allowed and where it is not
    • that the no-smoking policy applies to their guests, too

  3. Post adequate signage identifying the property/buildings as smokefree:
    Check out signs you can print out, customize or order pre-printed.

  4. Enforcement - Most smokefree policies are self-enforcing.  Residents can be your greatest allies.  If a resident complains about being bothered by smoke or knows of another resident who has violated the policy, document the facts and resolve the matter.  Treat violating the no-smoking policy like any other lease violation. 

Lack of enforcement with one resident may hamper enforcement with future residents.  Prompt, consistent action will send a clear message to everyone in your property that smoking is not allowed.                                                         

Common steps landlords can take to enforce the policy:

  • Start with a verbal meeting with the resident who is violating the policy. A resident complaint may prompt a “knock and talk”.  The resident does not have to answer the door, nor do they have to let you in, but if the door opens, it is an opportunity to have a friendly talk about the no-smoking policy.  Document the visit and whether or not you smelled smoke inside the unit.
       
  • Follow-up the visit with a letter acknowledging the conversation and the outcome – see Sample Friendly Warning Letter.

  • If the problem repeats, send a First Written Violation letter to the resident – see Sample Violation Warning Letter.

  • Depending on the circumstances, another repeat violation may result in a Final Written Violation letter.

  • If the violation persists, issue a 30/14 Termination Notice (in Oregon).

  • If the situation is remedied by the resident to avoid eviction and the smoking problem begins again within six months of the 30/14 termination process, an immediate termination can be issued.

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