Banning smokers WILL limit your tenants. I read somewhere that 70%+ percent of tenants smoke. I'm not sure if that's true among all classes.
Even so, I BAN smoking at my property. No inside smoking, no outside smoking.
Having fewer potential tenants is more than worth it to be to avoid that nasty smell. Even outside smoking brings hundreds of toxic chemicals inside that "stick" on the smoker as they come in and out. So, I say "no smokers" and ban smoking anywhere on my property-- makes smokers not want to live here at all. No one wants to walk off my property down the street to smoke. Ruins property value in a house from what I've heard. And, like people here told me, saying "outside smoking only" will lead to the person smoking inside when it's cold and maybe opening a window to smoke out of... if you're lucky.
I've been in houses and hotels where a smoker lived, and it's just not worth it.
If you've got low-income rental properties, you might need to cave and allow outside smokers. Lots of poor people smoke.
I would allow pets before allowing smokers.
I don't allow cats!!! Cat pee smells foul. Cats claw everything. Cats shed bad. I suppose a large cat deposit and a declawed cat might be worth considering.
Limit the number of dogs. Maybe limit size, or have a large deposit. Dogs also jump on doors and windows. Some pee on the floor. Except to have to replace the carpet and/or very deep clean it and factor that in to the rent/deposit $.
I will say... some older or well-trained large dogs *can* be better than yippy, small dogs that bark all day and pee all over the floor. Meeting the dog, a good deposit, and previous landlord references or training class references might make a large trained dog better than a non-trained dog.
I would allow pets because people with pets seem to stay longer. And, out of all the "bad traits" of a tenant, pets *with good previous landlord references and deposit* seem to be less awful than other bad tenant traits.
Kids can destroy houses too and are huge liabilities, like pets or smoking. Seems like a good deposit and references help lessen the damage.
I don't allow swimming pools or trampolines or dangerous breeds of dogs.
(Even though I find it sad-- not all dangerous breed dogs are dangerous.)
@K. Marie Poe
You paid $2000 to paint one bedroom? Holy smokes. I'll paint it for half that!
Not allowing any candles at all? Whoa. I couldn't live there... I like an occasional candle. Ever had a complaint about not allowing incense/candles for religious purposes? What if your tenant cooks a lot of curry and the smell/oil residue from that gets all over the walls?