For many years, landlords in Illinois have maintained nonsmoking policies in their apartment buildings. But according to a recent article in the Chicago Tribune, smoking bans are growing in popularity across the state. Rick Haughey, the vice president of operations and technology at the National Multi Housing Council, emphasized the increasing momentum of these bans in the Chicago area. The Council is a trade group for landlords.
What’s at stake for both nonsmokers and smokers in the bans? From a nonsmoker’s point of view, the primary concern with smoking in a multi-housing structure is the secondhand smoke. According to the story in the Chicago Tribune, the smoke “seeps and drifts from unit to unit.” However, some smokers think that these rental smoking bans constitute an invasion of their privacy.
Do you have questions about your rights as a smoker or a nonsmoker in your rental property? An experienced landlord-tenant lawyer has special knowledge about your concerns and can answer your questions today.
Why Are the Bans Gaining in Popularity?
Last month, an article in the New York Times connected the increasing excitement surrounding smoking bans to a decision by Related Companies, one of America’s largest landlords. As of June 2013, Related Companies “has decided that tenants can no longer light up in the 40,000 rental units it owns or manages.” In fact, Related owns units in 17 states, and the bans don’t just include the indoor spaces associated with those properties. Renters will also be banned from smoking on private balconies and terraces. Haughey indicated that other key players in the apartment-rental business nationwide are likely to follow suit.
This decision comes after years of nonsmoking efforts. Back in 2009, Related imposed smoking bans in “a handful of its New York buildings,” and since then the company has been working “to create healthier living conditions” for all of its tenants.
And based on the article in the New York Times, the “anti-smoking momentum” isn’t confined to rental properties alone. Indeed, “many municipalities have moved to ban smoking in all multifamily housing.” For example, City Council members in Walnut Creek, California recently agreed to approve a smoking ban for all multifamily housing in the area, which will take effect this month.
Economic Incentives for Smoking Bans
Haughey explained that landlords are imposing these bans because it’s economically beneficial, too. More tenants are willing to rent if they won’t be subjected to secondhand smoke and other smoking-related health hazards. In other words, there aren’t just social pressures for landlords to limit smoking in their properties. In an interview with Haughey, he explained that there “are clearly costs associated with having smokers on the premises.”
Back when indoor smoking was a more common practice, hotel rooms and other public facilities were inundated with the scent of cigarette smoke. Even the best cleaning efforts couldn’t remove the smell entirely. But back then, most people expected to encounter the lingering scent of cigarette smoke. Now, with many renters falling into the nonsmoking category, “there are higher cleaning costs when smokers move out of apartments.” Carpets must be cleaned, and sometimes even removed. In fact, “even the wall would need a deeper clean than you would otherwise have to do.”
The new smoking bans are likely to cause many landlord-tenant disputes. If you have questions regarding your rights under these no-smoking policies, contact the experienced real estate attorneys at The Slater Firm, Ltd. today.