Can you really prevent smoking in your rental property?
So, you have decided to rent out your property. After finding what appears to be the perfect tenant, you sit down to go over the lease agreement together. While in this meeting, you point out to your new tenant that there is to be no smoking inside the rental home. Your new tenant agrees, stating that he will be sure to go outside and never smoke in the home. You feel confident and proceed with the lease signing.
Three months later you get a call that there is an issue with a small leak at the residence. You head over and, as soon as the tenant opens the door to welcome you, you hit a wall of stale-smelling cigarette smoke.
Besides shaking your finger and scolding your tenant, what do you do? Can you really prevent smoking in your rental property?
The answer is yes. You can absolutely prevent tenants from smoking inside your rental property. Whether you are the landlord or you have an Atlanta property management company handling your rentals, you have a choice when it comes to smoking.
Be clear about the property rules – and always put them in writing
A lease is a written and signed agreement between the landlord (or property management company) and the tenant. Anything that you want to discourage – or encourage – when it comes to your property, the lease agreement is the best place to make sure it is addressed.
Be very clear about your rules and do’s/don’ts when it comes to things such as smoking. It is important that you state these rules in the lease, in detailed-fashion. Unfortunately, not all tenants abide by rules. So, make sure to include the consequences for breaking the rules, as well. For instance, for tenants who break smoking rules, some landlords may only charge a fee for extra cleanup to remove the stains, lingering odors, or other damage, while other landlords may terminate the lease and have the tenant removed. However you choose to handle these situations, make sure to clearly state the penalties.
At the signing with your future tenant, make sure that you, or your Atlanta property managers, go through the lease, page by page, allowing the tenant to fully understand your rules in regards to smoking on and in the property and the potential consequences.
Remember, you have a choice when it comes to renting out your property – having a written and signed agreement will make this easier to enforce.
How will I know if my tenant is smoking in my rental property?
Many tenants rent a property, never expecting to see their landlord or property manager unless a maintenance issue arises. As the landlord, however, you can make occasional inspections of the property to make sure it is in working order and properly maintained.
While you may be checking for the condition of the property or doing preventative maintenance and upkeep, you may also use this time as an opportunity to look for signs of smoking or other property damage. You do not necessarily have to physically see the tenant smoking to determine if it is taking place.
Tenants do not want to be caught doing something they know could cause them issues with their place of residence. If a landlord is known for making sporadic inspection visits, it is likely to be helpful in deterring the tenant from smoking in your Atlanta property rental.
Know your rights
Having your property taken care of by an Atlanta property management company can make it easier to know and understand your rights. Smoker’s rights are not necessarily protected by the state. In fact, with so many health discoveries, including the dangers of smoking and breathing secondhand smoke, states are more apt to support a landlord who chooses not to rent to a smoker or prohibits smoking in the rental property. In fact, some areas are even seeing trends of non-smoking rental properties.
Fact is, smoking can damage your rental property. It can leave a lingering cigarette odor, burns, and may even discolor walls, blinds, etc. The key is to keep communication and contact open with your potential tenants. When it comes to smoking, be clear and precise in your lease agreement, stating what behavior will and won’t be accepted. Let your tenant know that this is an important issue. And always follow through with the penalty if this rule is broken. You have rights – use them!
If you are interested in having an Atlanta property management company manage and maintain your rental property for you, give ALH|Podland Realty & Rental Homes Property Management a call at 404-937-1850.