Many landlords prefer non-smoking tenants for a variety of reasons. Most of these revolve around the fact that smoking is a fire hazard which can also cause a lot of damage to a property.
In principle, this is one area where landlords have the law on their side. In practice, there can be a huge difference between what the law says and what you can actually enforce.
What the law says
The law says you are perfectly entitled to advertise for a non-smoking tenant and to put a no-smoking clause in your lease. In fact, if you own an HMO you must ban tenants from smoking in communal public areas.
The law versus reality
First of all, you would need to find out that your tenant was smoking while the lease was in force in order to have a chance of doing anything about it (other than taking any damage out of their deposit and/or pursuing them through the courts for any excess).
Secondly, although, at present, you can evict a tenant without holding them at fault (except in Scotland), but it looks highly likely that the “no-fault eviction” route is going to be eliminated throughout the UK.
If that happens, your only route to evicting a tenant will be to get a possession order from a court. This will require not only convincing a judge that a tenant has been smoking in your property (or allowing other people to do so), but also that this is sufficient grounds for eviction.
Neither of these points is remotely guaranteed.
Prevention is better than cure
Given that the law does allow you to advertise for a non-smoking tenant, it makes sense to take advantage of the fact and to state clearly that smoking is banned on your property.
It may be worth mentioning that you have invested in tamper-proof/mains-wired smoke alarms, which will be triggered by cigarette smoke.
It’s also a good idea to take a good look at (and sniff off) prospective tenants when you meet them in person as it’s often quite easy to spot a smoker.
Dealing with a smoking tenant
Given the limitations of the law, it may make sense to deal with the situation by negotiation rather than litigation, especially since this is likely to work out the far cheaper and lower-hassle option.
One approach would be to raise your concerns with your tenant and remind them that smoking is a breach of their contract and could be grounds for eviction.
Even if it’s not, you’re certainly within your rights to pursue them for the damage they will cause. This could be enough of a wake-up call to your tenant to get them to stop smoking in your property (if not give up completely).
You might be prepared to suggest to your tenants that an amicable compromise could be for them to switch out their cigarettes for vaporizers, at least when they were indoors.
That way, they’d be much less of a fire hazard and cause much less damage (stains and smell) to your property and hence would end up with a lower bill for cleaning when they left, especially if they still made it a practice to go outdoors for their nicotine fix as much as they could or, at the very least, vaped by an open window.
Joe’s Juice are a UK based e-liquid manufacturer, offering a wide range of e-liquids, accessories and non-smoking aids to help people to quit smoking.