Smoking/Girlfriend that isn’t on the lease issues

8 Replies

So I had a qualified tenant apply, I used Smartmove to verify him. He has good income, no evictions, quiet and a non-smoker (he also didn’t smell like smoke and also didn’t smell like an overload of cologne in hopes of masking the smell) So day one he moves in, looks like his girlfriend his helping him move in. Which I don’t mind/think of that she might be moving her stuff in as well. The unit next door they share a hallway to enter and exit the building, the tenant next door complained about the odor of smoke? Which she has a right to, I was under the impression he doesn’t smoke and the girlfriend isn’t on the lease. I do have it written about guests only staying 5 days without written consent of the LL. Apparently the girlfriend is the smoker and isn't on the lease, it hasn't been 5 days yet so I plan on waiting for that. And if this persists talk to him and then, if necessary, Post the necessary paperwork about these breaches. 

Have others had situations like this? Any advice?

Do you have a non-smoking provision in the lease? It should state that nobody is allowed to smoke even if they are not on the lease. Give him notice that he is in violation of the lease. I wouldn't even bring up the fact about the girlfriend since you can't prove she lives there (at least not yet). But you can take pictures of cigarette butts and get signed statements from other people saying they can smell the smoke.

If its not in your lease put it there.

This is what mine says:

E. Smoking: Smoking by Tenant, Tenant’s guests, family, or occupants ☐is permitted X not permitted in the Unit or Property (including, but not limited to, the garage or outdoor areas of the Property). If smoking is not permitted and does occur in the Unit or Property, Tenant will be in default and:

(1) Landlord may exercise Landlord’s remedies under Paragraph 27; and

(2) Landlord may deduct from the security deposit damages to the Unit or Property caused by smoking,

including, but not limited to stains, burns, odors, and removal of debris.

@Rick M. I would contact the tenant immediately with something like this:

"The neighbors are complaining about smoke odors. I know you don't smoke but I'm wondering if perhaps it's your girlfriend? If that's the case, please ask her to smoke away from the building. I don't know how much longer she will be visiting but I'm sure the complaints will go away once she is gone."

By mentioning she's not a resident, you can set the tenant on notice that she's not welcome to stay. Then be prepared to deal with him asking how to add her or if she overstays her welcome.

Rick - I would advise you to keep the other tenants of out the situation. Don’t use the neighbors complaining as an excuse to correct the situation. You are setting up both tenants for failure. If you are the property manager, own the situation and feel nd a way to bring it up yourself. Like “Hey I dropped in the other day just to make sure you were settled in okay and there are no issues. I noticed a strong smell of smoke and some cigarette butts out or whatever other evidence. I just want to let you know smoking is forbidden inside the property and ensure you know the rules. Please pass onto any guests that may be dropping in.”

I don’t recommend approaching the situation yet based on complaints. That just creates tension between neighbors. Manage the relationships and keep them healthy if you can. As for the girlfriend, if she stops smoking in the building, is there really a problem with her staying over? I wouldn’t want to act like someone’s parent if you otherwise have a good tenant and they are taking care of the place and paying rent. My renter has his girlfriend stay and she’s OCD clean. I actually like the idea of her being there despite now being on the contract. As long as he keeps paying and she keeps cleaning, the cool with me.

If the situation goes south, then maybe pursue others means or suggest that your property may not be the best place for him. You can always motivate someone to move without having to be hostile or end up in court or seeking eviction. Just set your terms and stick to it. Follow up with a certified letter acknowledging the discussion and your terms regarding smoking in the property. And if outside, clean up the cigarette bites, only outback, not front or something of that nature. Or not on the property at all. You definitely need this in the lease agreement though.

I honestly wouldn’t mind if the GF did want to stay but she’s the smoker. I’m not looking to be a tyrant but I do need to enforce the rules. The Smoking is the main issue, the smell is absolutely awful and it’s a potential fire hazard. Thanks for all the help I'll update if necessary. 

You're on the right track but I didn't see anything mentioned about no smoking, only your presumption that he doesn't smoke. You should make that a policy and include it in your lease.

Out of curiosity how does one prove she's there longer than 5 days without spending far to much effort to actually stake out the place?

Do you just hope the tennat admits it and go from there ?

I would politely tell him (subsequent of a casual convo) “Hey, just so you know, I had to evict a tennent because of smoking.”

This lets him know that you know what’s going on, without being force full or causing neighborly strife. And your probability doing this guy a favor to now confront his girlfriend. After all what non-smoking partner enjoys the other smoking?

To me it’s a casual cool conversation. It’s not like you have pit bulls in there tearing up the joint.