Can landlords ban tenants smoking?
Yes, in theory landlords can ban tenants smoking inside their property.
They can advertise for a non-smoking tenant and they can include a clause in the tenancy agreement that prohibits smoking on the premises.
In fact, if you are letting individual rooms in a property you MUST ban smoking in all communal areas, such as the kitchen and living room.
However, it isn’t easy to enforce a no-smoking rule.
If you find a tenant is smoking and they refuse to stop, you can terminate their tenancy with two months’ written notice, but only if the fixed term of their contract has ended or if there is a break clause in the tenancy agreement.
If the tenant is still within the fixed term of their agreement, you can’t just kick them out, even though they have broken the terms of their tenancy agreement.
Instead, you’d have to get a repossession order from a court, which is a complicated and lengthy process.
You’d have to prove that your tenant was smoking, which isn’t easy. How are you going to provide a judge with concrete evidence that your tenant is lighting up on the property?
It’s much better to avoid the problem by making sure your tenant is a non-smoker before you agree to the let. Even if you’ve mentioned in your advert – or told your letting agent – that smoking isn’t allowed, double check that they’re a non-smoker before they sign the contract.
If they say they are but they reek of cigarettes, have yellow teeth, a hacking cough or nicotine stained fingers, move on to the next applicant.
If you don’t mind smokers, or you realise you’ve accidentally ended up with one, make sure you’ve informed your contents insurer and also consider asking for a higher deposit to cover additional cleaning costs at the end of the tenancy. Getting rid of the smell of smoke can be tricky, especially if you have carpets, curtains or soft furnishings.
Oh, and don’t forget to check you’re smoke alarms are working. Better to be safe than sorry.