6 Ways to Prove a Tenant Is Smoking in Your Apartment

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Most landlords prohibit tenants from smoking inside their apartments or other rental properties. Cigarette smoke is dangerous to other residents in a multifamily building and could permanently damage the unit, so property owners are well within their rights to forbid this action.

Some tenants refuse to follow the rules, though, creating issues for property owners. Landlords could receive complaints from other renters in the building, forcing them to take action against these smokers and possibly evict them if they don’t stop.

The first step in the process is gathering evidence that your tenants are smoking indoors. This guide will tell you how to prove a tenant is smoking in an apartment and provide tips on how to prevent it from becoming a significant problem at your investment property.

How to Prevent Tenants From Smoking Indoors

Developing a prevention plan makes it less likely you’ll have to deal with tenants smoking in your rental properties. The result is a more peaceful experience for everyone who lives in the building. Some ways to discourage people from smoking inside include the following: 

Have Clear Rules

You’ll want to ensure every person who rents from you is aware of your nonsmoking policy. Putting a no-smoking clause in the lease is a must, and letting smokers know about penalties they could encounter if they don’t follow the rules is also advisable. Keep in mind that your rules can apply to medicinal marijuana smoke, too, but you’ll want to explicitly state its inclusion in the lease agreement.

Install Smoke Detectors

Purchasing high-quality smoke detectors could be a deterrent for smokers. Buying products without removable batteries is possible, too, so you don’t have to worry about residents disabling the unit before they light up.

Hang Signs

Installing a few signs around the property can act as a reminder that smoking is prohibited. These signs are beneficial if you own an entire apartment building or another property with multiple units because you can place these signs in common areas. 

Create a Smoking Area

Tenants might be less likely to smoke indoors if you give them a clear spot to smoke while outside. Having a smoking area at least 25 feet away from the building’s doors and windows can reduce the problems you’ll encounter in the future and also ensures you’re following D.C. law. Investing in a table and some chairs can make the smoking area more inviting for your residents, as well.

Issue Fines

Renters may be less likely to smoke inside if they know there will be financial forfeitures if caught. You’ll still have to learn how to prove a tenant is smoking in an apartment to issue fines, but having a substantial penalty in place could discourage some smokers from breaking the rules.

Figuring out how to prove a tenant is smoking weed or cigarettes is vital because collecting proof allows you to take some punitive steps. The result is a smoke-free property with happy tenants.

Six Signs Your Tenant Is Smoking Inside

Determining if your tenants are smoking indoors is essential because you don’t want to accuse your renters without proof. You’ll probably have a pretty good idea early on, though, because some obvious signs will be present. Some cues to watch for include the following:

1. The Smell

Cigarette smoke lingers in the air and can also attach itself to upholstery, carpets, curtains, and other items inside an apartment. The smell of smoke is probably the first thing you’ll detect if your tenants are smoking inside, and it’s also possible you’ll notice a strong air freshener scent if they’re actively trying to cover it up.

2. Ashes and Residue

You should also keep your eyes open for ashes and residue inside the unit. A small amount of ash on a windowsill or counter could be enough to tip you off, allowing you to confront your tenants about their smoking habits.

3. Stains on Surfaces and Fixtures

Cigarettes can leave behind more than ashes, as the smoke can stain your ceiling, walls, light fixtures, curtains, and lamps. These stains could be a yellow or brown color and get darker over time as the tenant continues to smoke.

4. Coloring on Walls

A more subtle sign someone is smoking indoors is a collection of dots around your windows or door frames. Cigarette smoke can slowly change the color of these frames, especially in areas with heavy condensation like the bathroom or kitchen, so watch for these dots if you’re looking for proof. 

5. Burn Marks

Burns are perhaps the most noteworthy signs of someone smoking inside the unit. Tenants can claim the smells are coming from other apartments or paint over stained walls, but there’s no repairing a burn mark on a carpet without taking on considerable expense. You might also notice burn marks on the countertops or furniture when tenants smoke indoors.

6. Cigarette Butts

Finding a collection of cigarette butts is an obvious sign someone is smoking inside an apartment. Few tenants would ever bring these butts indoors after smoking outside, so keep your eyes peeled for leftover butts anywhere inside the unit.

Gather proof once you learn how to prove a tenant is smoking weed or cigarettes to ensure you cover yourself legally. You can then take the next steps toward ridding your property of these problem tenants or developing a solution that allows them to stay in the apartment.

Handling a Smoking Tenant

Dealing with a smoker at your rental property could involve offering a reminder of the rules, serving a written warning, or pursuing an eviction if the tenant refuses to comply. You could also hire a property management firm to assist with this job, especially if you’re unclear about the legal aspects or are uncomfortable with the confrontation that could arise.

Nomadic Real Estate offers property management services in the D.C. area. We understand local laws, including those on marijuana smoke, and know how to prove a tenant is smoking in an apartment, allowing us to take the necessary steps to solve the situation. Contact Nomadic Real Estate for more information on our property management services.

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Net Distribution

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