Can A Landlord Prohibit Smoking Outside? (Find Out Now!)

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

It is growing harder to find places to smoke as it becomes less socially acceptable. It is common for landlords to prohibit smoking in a rental unit. In fact, many new apartment buildings are completely smoke-free.

It may still come as a shock, however, when you light up a cigarette outside your rental unit and you are told you can not even smoke there. Can your landlord tell you that you aren’t allowed to smoke outside?

Your landlord can prohibit smoking outside on their property. Check your lease to see if it prohibits smoking anywhere on the property. If so, you can be found in violation of your lease by lighting up, and even evicted. Research local laws for any outdoor smoking legislation. Check policies in your building’s common areas, as they may have separate rules about smoking.

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Why Do Landlords Prohibit Smoking Outside?

Potential Fire. Lit cigarettes create countless fires around the world. The number one reason a landlord prohibits smoking is to prevent fires from starting inside or outside their building.

Smells and Toxins. Even outside, cigarettes cause undesirable smells and release toxins into the air. If you have neighbors, smoke can drift into their open windows.

Physical Damage. Smoking leaves stains on surfaces. Cigarette butts take many years to break down. They leave the surrounding area trashed for months and years.

Review The Lease

Your lease is the primary document when it comes to rules about smoking. It determines whether or not you are permitted to smoke outside. If your lease dictates that smoking is not permitted in your rental unit, you may still be allowed to smoke outside.

Be very careful to read the exact verbiage of the lease. A lease may say smoking is not permitted “anywhere on property.” This property will likely include the outdoor area surrounding the building itself. If the verbiage on your lease confuses you, ask your landlord for further clarification.

Tip: If some sentences in your lease are vague, ask for more specific language. This will save you headaches in the future.

Check The Local Laws

Smoking laws vary greatly throughout the country. Some states still have very lenient laws that allow smoking in bars and even some restaurants. Other states have a low tolerance for smoking in public places.

Know your local and state laws. This is critical when your landlord tells you that you cannot smoke outside. Even if it is not written clearly in the lease, a local ordinance or state law can prohibit you from smoking in certain outdoor spaces.

Tip: Some states even have proximity laws. This means you can not smoke within a certain number of feet from a public building.

Talk To Your Landlord

Talk to your landlord if you are a smoker and he or she has a strict smoking policy. It rarely hurts to have a friendly conversation. When you go directly to your landlord it shows you are honest and interested in a resolution.

Sometimes your landlord can assist you by providing you with a specific outdoor area to smoke, as long as you deposit the butts properly.

Tip: If your landlord permits smoking in a small specific area, try to get this in writing in order to ensure you are not found in violation of the lease agreement in the future.

Can A Landlord Evict You For Smoking Outside?

If your landlord puts a no outdoor smoking clause in your lease and you sign it, then yes, you can be evicted for smoking outside. It is less likely for a landlord to begin the eviction process if you smoke outside rather than inside. Several factors affect whether or not this offense will lead all the way to eviction.

  • Have You Been Warned? A landlord may offer a warning, verbal or otherwise, in regards to smoking. Sometimes this warning is provided when you sign the lease that there is a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to smoking. Other times the landlord will warn you when you are seen smoking where you should not be.
  • Do You Continue Without Regard? Your landlord may begin the eviction process if you were informed of the policy and warned about the consequences of smoking outside.  When a tenant breaks a part of the lease agreement and continues to do so after being warned, a landlord may use eviction as the next step. If you are warned about smoking outside, you should stop or seek further clarification.
  • Is There Evidence? Has your landlord taken photos or videos of you smoking? Do other tenants voice complaints about your outdoor smoking habit? If your landlord has any physical evidence of you breaking the lease it will be significantly easier for the landlord to begin and streamline the eviction process.

Can A Landlord Change The Lease?

You may have signed a lease that permits smoking, but then the landlord requests to add an addendum to the lease. You may wonder if this is legal. The short answer is yes. When these new terms can legally come into effect is a bit more complicated.

If you have a month-to-month lease, your landlord can essentially adjust and terminate a lease with 30 days notice in most states. If your landlord no longer wants to permit smoking he can add it to the lease. You must sign the new lease to continue your leese agreement, and then the rule takes effect.

When you have a longer lease, things are a bit trickier. A landlord can request an addition to the lease during the current lease period. You can agree or disagree to sign. Your landlord can push the issue further, at which point you should look into your tenant rights in your specific state. Find out more before you break the lease or get evicted.

Tip: As a rule, do not sign anything you are uncomfortable with without reviewing it and knowing its lasting effects.

Common Areas

Your landlord may not have a clause in the lease dictating no smoking. However, be aware of posted signs or “house rules” that prohibit smoking in many outdoor common areas. Courtyards, barbecue areas, pools and other common areas in rental properties that often come with additional rules.

Just as a landlord can dictate the hours a pool is open or closed, her or she can also dictate whether or not smoking is permitted. If you are found smoking in common areas where smoking is prohibited, you are still breaking the terms of the lease as you are not abiding by the house rules.

Tip: Be sure to read the house rules. There are often specific rules for the common areas, as they may vary from space to space.

Does Smoking Mean Vaping Too?

A lease may include verbiage such as “usage of tobacco in any form” or “use of e-cigarettes” as prohibited materials. Even though tobacco vapes and e-cigarettes are not major fire hazards, some landlords may not permit their use.

Read the verbiage in your lease carefully. Make sure vapes and e-cigarettes are permitted inside and outside your apartment.

Try To Cut Back Or Quit

It may go without saying, but moving into a place where you can not smoke inside or outside may be a great opportunity to rethink your smoking habit. It is often said that people are successful in quitting a habit like smoking when their routine changes.

If you enjoy everything about your rental property other than its smoking policy, you may want to look into possible smoking alternatives.

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Related Questions

Can I Smoke On The Balcony of a No Smoking Hotel Room?

Many hotels, including the major hotel chains Marriott and Starwood, are completely non-smoking. This means there is no smoking anywhere within the hotel grounds, other than perhaps a designated smoking area. You are also prohibited from smoking on balconies or in common areas.Be sure to speak with front desk staff before you light up to avoid a potentially large fee for smoking on the balcony of your hotel room.

How Do I Get The Cigarette Smell Out Of A Room?

The best way to illuminate the smoke smell from a room is ventilation. Proper airflow and ventilation helps minimize smoke smells indoors. If the room continues to smell like smoke hours and days after you smoked in it you can try other techniques.Open containers of charcoal and white vinegar can absorb the smoke smell from a room. You can also clean furniture with white vinegar to remove the smell. Vinegar may smell pungent. Try adding some essential oils to cut the vinegar scent. 

Can A Landlord Prohibit Candles?

Just as a landlord can prohibit smoking in an apartment, they can prohibit candles. It is not uncommon for a lease to prohibit lighting candles or even possessing candles in the rental unit.Be sure to read your lease clearly and are sure that you are not in violation of your lease. Try an essential oil diffuser. A diffuser will achieve the same scented ambient feeling of a candle. Oil diffusers use water vapor to spread pleasant smells throughout the home without the danger of fire.

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

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