Once seen as highly fashionable, smoking is widely regarded as one of the most socially unacceptable habits one can have in the UK today.
Aside from the obvious impacts to health, smoking can devalue your property, as nicotine and chemicals can build up in walls, floors, surfaces and the furniture. It’s also a major fire hazard that puts your home and your tenants at risk.
Dealing with smokers can be a big problem when letting to tenants, as over half (53.6%) of smokers in the UK rent within private or social rented properties.
You can include a clause in tenancy agreements stating that smoking is not permitted, while if the tenant asks for consent to smoke you can refuse. If you are a landlord of an HMO, shared areas of the property are impacted by the Smoke Free Law of 2017, which makes it illegal to smoke in publicly enclosed spaces.
Advertise for a non-smoker
If possible it’s best to find a tenant that doesn’t smoke than have to deal with the effects, though it’s not always easy to ascertain people’s habits behind closed doors. To try and put off smokers we’d recommend ensuring all your adverts clearly state that you’re looking for a non-smoking tenant.
Dealing with a smoking tenant
If you have a tenant that smokes indoors you should firstly flag the issue with them. If they continue to heavily smoke indoors despite warnings, you could ask them for a larger deposit to cover the cost of refurbishing the place once they leave.
You could also hike their rent after the fixed term finishes, which should compensate for the damage or persuade them to leave. It’s unlikely to be worth evicting a smoking tenant on the grounds of a breach of contract, as that would involve going to the courts and you may not win.
Updating landlord insurance
If you have a tenant that’s a smoker and you have a landlord insurance policy that’s set for a non-smoking tenant, you want to update the policy. If you don’t, your cover may be voided if something happens and you need to make a claim.
Getting rid of the effects of smoking
If a tenant who was a smoker departs you can redecorate affected rooms at a cost of around £300-500. Meanwhile, if there’s substantial damage you could replace the carpets and furniture.
Calum Brannan, Founder and CEO of Howsy, commented: “Having a heavy smoker in your property isn’t necessarily something to be avoided, but should that person be unable to respect your wishes and smoke outside, it could cause more than friction and in fact, dent the profitability of your rental investment.
Attracting a non-smoking tenant is the best solution, though if you already have a tenant who smokes heavily indoors there are practical steps you can take to ensure the issue is dealt with by the book.
You shouldn’t have to suffer the consequences of your property being devalued by the effects of smoking and if you’ve been clear from the offset, there’s no reason they should be smoking in your property.”