Is it Time to Make Your Buildings Smoke-Free?

Last Updated: October 30, 2014By

getty_rf_photo_of_woman_breaking_cigaretteSmoking is one of the largest health issues facing America today, and landlords have an increasing number of concerns and questions about allowing people to smoke in their buildings. Whether you rent out half a duplex or own multiple apartment buildings in the city, smoking is an issue that you’re probably facing or will face in the near future. An increasing number of tenants are requesting smoke-free living spaces, trying to avoid the consequences of second hand smoke on their health and that of their family members. Choosing to make your buildings smoke-free can protect both the health of your tenants and the bottom line in your business.


One of the largest advantages to a landlord is that going smoke-free in his buildings will save him money from the very start. Some of the ways in which you’ll increase your bottom line are:

  • Reducing costs and turnover time. There is a percentage of tenants who will eventually move out of a building if the problem of secondhand smoke starts to affect their lives. Creating a building free of secondhand smoke will save you costs of renting your units more frequently, plus the possible loss of income from not being able to fill units as quickly as you’d like.
  • Reducing maintenance costs. From the tiny to the all-encompassing, problems with smokers will cost you maintenance money whenever they move out. Cigarette burns require repair or replacement in carpeting. Smoky smells require a thorough dry cleaning on drapes, as well as a complete wash down of walls and ceilings. In the worst cases, some of your furnishings may have to be replaced completely.
  • Reduced insurance premiums. Non-smoking buildings are seen as inherently safer than those with smokers, at least in the eyes of most insurance companies. There is a smaller chance of fire as well as fire, so your property insurance premiums may lower significantly when you turn your buildings smoke-free.


Smoke-free buildings are a strong future trend for apartments, condos, and other rental housing. A number of organizations have given their support to this movement, offering the strength of the federal government as well as the expertise of industry leaders. Dave Watkins, the Chairman of the Board of the National Apartment Association, has stated, “Smoke-free apartment communities not only promote a healthy resident population, but also a healthy bottom line for owners and investors.”

In order to support business owners in their effort to go smoke-free in their housing units, the group Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights has published multiple pamphlets, booklets, and white papers, detailing your rights and advantages, as well as the benefits of a nonsmoking building lifestyle.

The federal government has even weighed in on the subject. In 2009, the office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued a memorandum which “strongly encourages Public Housing Authorities to implement non-smoking policies in some or all of their public housing units.” They went further in 2010, encouraging all owners of Section 8 housing to implement a smoke-free policy in their units. These documents added weight to the rights of business owners to declare their buildings smoke-free and act as a guideline for state and local public health officials on the subject.

In short, turning your rental property into smoke-free buildings is a win-win situation. You’ve got everything to gain because:

    • It’s legal
    • You’ll rent your units faster
    • You’ll raise your bottom line
    • Your tenants will be happier

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At the American Apartment Owners Association (AAOA), our mission is to serve the interests of landlords, real estate brokers, property managers, real estate owners and apartment building owners nationally.  Visit for more information about membership details!


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