Increase deposit for smokers?

14 Replies

We just got done turning around an apartment vacated by a heavy smoker. We had to wash (to get rid of the tar) and paint the whole apartment and use an ozone machine to help get rid of the smoke smell among other things (new blinds). I'm taking most if not all of his deposit but I had a question.

I would like to go smoke free but I don't think it can work in my area (even my caretakers are heavy smokers.

Has anyone charged smokers a higher deposit? That would help cover the higher cleanup costs. Any problems with doing this?

Jeff

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I am a smoker but I smoke outside. I tell my tenants that smoking is not allowed inside the property and cigarette butts need to be disposed of properly. I expain that the reason is that smoking indoors will cost them a lot of money. New carpet and a wiping of every surface. New paint, everywhere paint is. Fixtures and trim can be extremely costly. So I say just suck it up and smoke outside like I do.

@Kyle Hipp @Jeff J. @David Hudson   I know this is a very old thread but I'm finding myself in the same boat - I've tried excluding smokers on a certain low end property and it's excluding every single tenant.  Wondering if you all are still allowing smokers (with lease specifying they must smoke outside or be charged clean up fees?  Or has it proven too costly for cleanup?  I'd love to hear how it's gone for you! Thanks!

My understanding is that we cannot discriminate against smokers.  (I know, it's nuts.)  HOWEVER, we certainly can designate the entire property inside and outside as a smoke-free environment.  We put that in all leases, and if we find cigarette butts (or other types of smoking residue) lying around the premises, we have maintenance take photos, clean it up, and back-charge the cost to the tenant.

Of course, in the case of larger multi-family properties where it is more difficult to place blame, one can often find a 'watchful' (read nosey or allergic) neighbor that will happily bust the sneaky inhaler.  Post 'no smoking' signs around your property, place video cameras in common areas (no, common bathrooms are NOT included) and nab those dirty puffers in the act. 

Lastly, do what is now being done for dog feces:  take a DNA swipe of each tenant and send it into the lab.  Then you can send in a cigarette butt to the lab, have it analyzed and pop that perp with a huge fine!

Let us know how that works out.

We are going smoke free July 1st.  The caretakers are heavy smokers and may leave but we are tired of smoke in the halls and smoke seeping into other apartments.  it will reduce cleanup costs on turnovers. 

Originally posted by @Marc Winter :

My understanding is that we cannot discriminate against smokers.  (I know, it's nuts.)  HOWEVER, we certainly can designate the entire property inside and outside as a smoke-free environment.  We put that in all leases, and if we find cigarette butts (or other types of smoking residue) lying around the premises, we have maintenance take photos, clean it up, and back-charge the cost to the tenant.

Of course, in the case of larger multi-family properties where it is more difficult to place blame, one can often find a 'watchful' (read nosey or allergic) neighbor that will happily bust the sneaky inhaler.  Post 'no smoking' signs around your property, place video cameras in common areas (no, common bathrooms are NOT included) and nab those dirty puffers in the act. 

Lastly, do what is now being done for dog feces:  take a DNA swipe of each tenant and send it into the lab.  Then you can send in a cigarette butt to the lab, have it analyzed and pop that perp with a huge fine!

Let us know how that works out.

 Smoking is not a protected class.  Maybe your state has a specific statute, but you can discriminate, charge a smokers deposit, or downright refuse smokers.

Originally posted by @Marc Winter :

My understanding is that we cannot discriminate against smokers.  (I know, it's nuts.)  HOWEVER, we certainly can designate the entire property inside and outside as a smoke-free environment.  We put that in all leases, and if we find cigarette butts (or other types of smoking residue) lying around the premises, we have maintenance take photos, clean it up, and back-charge the cost to the tenant.

Of course, in the case of larger multi-family properties where it is more difficult to place blame, one can often find a 'watchful' (read nosey or allergic) neighbor that will happily bust the sneaky inhaler.  Post 'no smoking' signs around your property, place video cameras in common areas (no, common bathrooms are NOT included) and nab those dirty puffers in the act. 

Lastly, do what is now being done for dog feces:  take a DNA swipe of each tenant and send it into the lab.  Then you can send in a cigarette butt to the lab, have it analyzed and pop that perp with a huge fine!

Let us know how that works out.

No judge will sign off on a court order for DNA testing all tenants. 

I'm a smoker, have been one for a decade. One thing i do not understand is how the hell can you smoke inside? That's so nasty! I cannot imagine my house smelling like an ashtray. Gross. If your tenant cant lift his *** to go smoke outside - you dont want him as a tenant in the first place!

 Congratulations on your decision Jeff for going non smoking. It is th eright decission for your business.

Presentative measures ae a waste of time, higher deposits will not make the situation any better. The fact is that in todays society smoking is not acceptable and wise investors will simply acknowledge this fact and have a strictly enforced no smoking policy. There is absolutely no reason to allow or tolerate smoking. Burying your head in the sand does not work. 

Stating that you don't think it will work to go non smoking is not acceptable. If you have to you should be strictly enforcing your non smoking policies with your care takers as well or replace them. It's a new world where smokers are simply no longer tolerated. They are ostracised in all work places and all landlords should be extending this to their properties. Be prepared that with the spread of legal use of weed non smoking will become compulsory so step up to the new world now. There is no logical reason to allow smoking in your properties.

(Unless you are C/D investors that have no reason to care about the effect smoking has.)

How much does it cost to mitigate the smoke damage? On a typical 2-bedroom apartment, a smoker can cause over $1,000 in damages. I don't know any smoker that would pay that much for the freedom of smoking inside.

Your policy should be "no smoking" in any of your rentals. It should also stipulate they are not allowed to smoke in any structure, to include garages or storage sheds, and that they should be at least ten feet away from any entrance, particularly an entrance shared with others. Butt cans should be metal, stored away from any structure, not stored on a wood deck, and emptied regularly.

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In low income areas c or d you will be shoveling crap against the tide trying to stop or prohibit smoking in the building. Seems like all poor people smoke ! You can try to weed them out in screening (you’ll get like nobody ) ) or make special rules but that is going to be a futile effort In my experience

Originally posted by @Marc Winter :

My understanding is that we cannot discriminate against smokers.  (I know, it's nuts.)  HOWEVER, we certainly can designate the entire property inside and outside as a smoke-free environment.  We put that in all leases, and if we find cigarette butts (or other types of smoking residue) lying around the premises, we have maintenance take photos, clean it up, and back-charge the cost to the tenant.

Of course, in the case of larger multi-family properties where it is more difficult to place blame, one can often find a 'watchful' (read nosey or allergic) neighbor that will happily bust the sneaky inhaler.  Post 'no smoking' signs around your property, place video cameras in common areas (no, common bathrooms are NOT included) and nab those dirty puffers in the act. 

Lastly, do what is now being done for dog feces:  take a DNA swipe of each tenant and send it into the lab.  Then you can send in a cigarette butt to the lab, have it analyzed and pop that perp with a huge fine!

Let us know how that works out.

Our RE attorney told us (in California) that we can discriminate against smokers.  Smoking is not a protected class.  We can choose  not to rent to them, charge them higher rent, or charge more cleaning deposit than we would charge a non-smoker (but it cannot be higher than the maximum allowed deposit).  We have transitioned to a zero smoker tenants (if you smoke we will not accept you as a tenant) but our tenant turn over is slow so we still have a few units that have smokers (all are supposed to smoke only outside per least agreement but that is real tough to enforce).

I had a tenant that thought she could not have special rules applied to her solely because she was a smoker.  I told her that our attorney indicated otherwise and that she could consult an attorney.  Never heard back about the issue.

I do not know if this is something that varies between states.