What to Do if Your Tenant Breaks the No Smoking Rule

Home Stager with Freshairguide

As homeowners and landlords, we try our best to keep our property in the best condition possible, which we all know can be difficult when we have limited access to the premises which we own. When screening for rental applicants, it can be very difficult to tell whether or not they will actually adhere to the rules listed in the rental contract.


Unfortunately, we hear stories of broken rental contracts far too often. From unauthorized subletting, to repainting, and of course the dreaded smoking indoors which, over a long period of time, will leave your property reeking of old, rancid cigarette stench. Even if you outright ask your tenants-to-be if they are smokers on the written application and include a no smoking rental clause in the rental agreement, many will choose to lie about or hide this fact as they realize it will most likely dissuade potential landlords from leasing to them.


All the time we hear “I got evicted for smoking in my apartment”. This isn’t so shocking, as most landlords do not want to have to deal with the ramifications of removing smoke odor from rental property!


If you are a landlord who has found yourself in the unfortunate situation of your current or previous tenant(s) breaking the no smoking clause of the rental agreement, try to stay calm. There are a few ways that you can remedy the situation and get your rental property back to its original state.


1. Check your Legal Rights and Act on Them


Your legal rights will vary by state. However, it’s relatively universal that, if your rental agreement explicitly stated that smoking is not allowed on the premise, then your tenant has broken a legally binding contract and can be subject to the withholding of deposits, and the imposition of extra fees that match the extent of the damages incurred to your property.


It is up to you about weather your want to talk to your tenant and come to agreement about how to remove the smoke odor from your home (whether or not not this will be made their responsibility), come to an agreement about future smoking, or if you want to proceed with total eviction of the rule-breaking tenant.


Regardless, after you proceed with dealing with your tenant(s), you will have to get to removing the smoke odor from your rental property.


2. Deep Clean the Premise


Once smoke odor is recognized recognized, it is important to get that nasty smell out as fast as possible! Smoke odor can set in permanently if it’s not removed in a timely fashion. Here are some tips for removing smoke odor:


  1. Rub vinegar into the affected areas (don’t worry, the smell will disintegrate over time or you can mask it using indoor perfumes in the meantime)

  2. Boil water with vinegar in areas to clean them. This also works for linens and clothing

  3. Wash linens with extra strong detergent and vinegar

  4. If vinegar doesn’t seem to be cutting it, try using baking soda as well (you will have to clean up the bubbly result)

  5. Set out bowls of charcoal and coffee grounds to absorb and mask the smell

  6. Use ammonia to clean the affected areas

  7. Install an air purifier with a carbon filter


3. Why an air purifier?


An air purifier is your most powerful tool in your arsenal once your tenant has broken the no smoking rule. Some air purifiers are specially designed to mitigate the smell of smoke odor as well as the harmful effects of secondhand smoking. The system works by pulling the smoke-polluted air into the system, cleaning it out using a carbon filtration system, and then releasing the now harmless air back into your home. This is by far going to be the most effective way to clean the air of your property of that rancid smoke odor.


If you are unlucky enough to have a tenant or tenants who have broken the non-smoking clause of your rental agreement, remember that you have legal rights! Look into yours, as they vary state-by-state. Also keep in mind that, while an arduous process, removing smoke from the home is far from impossible. We hope that after reading this guide, you will be able to beat the smoke odor for good!


Comments (1)

Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Fin,

That seems like a really major breach of trust. I have cleaned the aftermath of smoker's residue & it is not fun.

Dec 09, 2018 08:57 PM