Increasing numbers of landlords are feeling confident enough about the demand for rental housing that they are comfortable banning smoking outright in their rental properties. According to the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC), “tight rental supplies and high demand” are causing landlords to implement the bans, in part due to the fact that the bans often make their properties more attractive to non-smoking renters and in part due to the extra maintenance costs associated with having smoking tenants[1]. Although smoking-advocacy groups call the bans “intrusive” and criticize them for “prohibiting a behavior that is legal,” landlords who wish to prohibit smoking appear to have the law on their side as many cities are actually taking steps to outlaw smoking in all multifamily housing properties.

Recently, Related Cos., one of the largest landlords in the country, announced that it would phase in a smoking ban in all of its 40,000 units across the country this summer. Industry experts predict that more landlords will follow suit, likely implementing the ban upon lease renewal so that renters have time to adjust and neither tenants nor landlords have to “go at it cold turkey”[2]. Legal analysts say that the bans are legal because when one rents a property, one does not actually own it and, therefore, does not have the right to do whatever legal activities one wishes within that space. Instead, activities can be defined – and confined – by a lease agreement.


by Carole VanSickle