No Smoking Policies Encouraged by New Law

October 10, 2011 | | Articles | No Comments

California landlords will now have the explicit legal right to restrict smoking in their rental units or on the premises under SB 332 which was signed by Governor Brown on September 6, 2011 and takes effect January 1, 2012[1].

Several public agencies at both the state and federal levels have labeled secondhand smoke a deadly carcinogen responsible for causing cancer, low birth weight, respiratory infections, and other serious health problems.

There is no doubt that this is a serious problem and landlords need to be concerned about smoking on their properties. In fact, HUD has long encouraged landlords to provide smoke-free public housing to clients of public housing projects.

Prior to this law SB 332, there was no law prohibiting landlords from having a no-smoking policy.  Senator Alex Padilla, the bill’s author, said  that landlords wanted explicit legal authority to include smoking restrictions in their policies and leases.

Perhaps the most compelling reason to prohibit smoking is to avoid complaints of secondhand smoke from other tenants.

These complaints, if not addressed, can lead to lawsuits against landlords for knowingly allowing a serious health hazard to exist or for failing to prohibit activities (smoking) that cause annoyance or health problems and interfere with the enjoyment of the premises.

Having a no-smoking policy has several benefits and relatively little downside.  Only about 14% of Californians smoke so the pool of potential renters is not significantly reduced. Most smokers will accept a no-smoking unit and agree to limit their tobacco use to off-premises.  The vast majority of prospective tenants does not smoke and appreciates a smoke-free environment.

Maintenance is also an issue with smoking.  Cleaning a house or an apartment after a smoker has lived there is more expensive.   The smell can linger despite your best cleaning efforts.  According to an UCLA study, smokers cost apartment owners an average of $4,935 to clean up after them.  To see the full article, click on the link Cleaning Up After Smokers Costs Landlords.

At Integrity Plus Property Management, we encourage all our clients as well as individual landlords to adopt and enforce no-smoking policies.  It is important to remember that if you decide to make a property smoke-free, the change in policy change constitutes a change of lease terms and must be implemented using the same notice procedures as any other change of terms.


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